We then hopped on a Cessna
185 (tail dragger) which took 3 to 4 people at a time plus gear
about 50 miles away to a place near the Hubbard Glacier. Shortly
after takeoff we
looked down through a clearing and saw our only moose of the trip
about 200 feet below. The tires on the plane were BIG balloon tires.
Where we landed was on a rocky tidal bar where the Orange Glacier
had receded. Very primitive!
on any photograph to see a larger image
Cessna 185 near the Hubbard Glacier.
Getting ready to paddle into the fog.
|We were only
a mile or so from the Hubbard Glacier but we couldn't see it because
it was encased in fog. But, we could hear it! Sharp cracking sounds
as the ice broke, followed by a deep rumble as 350 feet tall chunks
of ice began tumbling, and finalized by ground shaking booms as skyscraper
sized chunks of ice hit the water. "Toto, we're not in Kansas any
We loaded all of our gear into canvas covered wooden framed kayaks
and headed across the fjord closer to the glacier and the spot where
we will make camp about ¾ of a mile from the face of the glacier.
The paddle was almost surrealistic. We were in a heavy fog and had
to stay fairly close to one another so we wouldn't get lost. We were
repeatedly warned not to bump into each other or the icebergs with
the kayaks since the canvas can tear. The changing tide caused periodic
large icebergs and other quick flowing ice to come floating out of
the fog. We had to make evasive maneuvers to miss the ice while keeping
the other kayaks in sight.
Our colaspable canvas covered kayaks.
The fog made our view almost surrealistic.
it looked like the other kayaks were suspended in an empty space of
nothingness. It was eerie but fun. As we arrived at the spot where
we were to go ashore the ice flow was getting very thick and much
faster. It was odd we would pass through a lane of ice going rapidly
one direction and then a hundred yards later ice was going the opposite
direction. We had to land the
kayaks one at a time, quickly
unload, and "RUN" the gear and kayaks to higher ground. We were now so
close to the glacier that the calving ice would cause tidal waves on the
shore after each large ice chunk hit the water. The shoreline would go
from a totally calm beach to waves 5 or 6 feet high within seconds. This
would have been a very dangerous ordeal had we not had such knowledgeable
guides. And! We still haven't seen the glacier. It was kinda spooky and
we all loved it. This was an adventure!
This ia a 5 phototograph composite. This is what we
could see from our campsite (about 1/3 of the face of the glacier).
That evening we sat around a cozy
campfire sipping Crown Royal with chunks of glacier ice. The next morning
we hiked to a point of land that was closest to the glacier. At this vantage
point we were about a half a mile away. That may sound a long way away but
This ia about a 1/3 of what 'we could see' of the
glacier and we could only see 1/3 of the face.
View from camp.
Sally, turn around! During tidal change lots of
ice would flow by and then stop and come back later. At times moving
very quickly. Maybe 25 m.p.h.!
By 9:00 that night the
fog began to lift and we saw our first glimpse of the massive ice
flow on the other side of the fjord
The next morning was
drizzly but we could see the glacier and some of the surrounding
mountains that were home to at least 8 other glaciers that we could
see. We were surrounded by mountains that were between 14,500 and
over 17,000 high. But the glacier was the real show. Words can't
describe seeing a river of ice that ends as a shear wall 350 feet
tall and 6 miles long. Where we were camping we could only see about
3 miles of the glacier face.
It looks really close and
the tidal wave action is awesome. While sitting on this rocky point our
guide whipped out a tiny little cook stove and popped 2 pans of Jiffy
Pop popcorn! (Peggy Wilcox, she's the best!)
our hike to and from camp we walked through hundreds of huge chunks of
ice that ranged from the size of a car up to that of a small building.
As we walked along the beach we had to pick and choose corridors of ice
to walk through in maze like fashion. It was like walking in a fairytale
second night as we had just retired for the night an enormous chunk broke
off and literally shook the ground we were laying on. At first, Patti
truly thought it was an earthquake. WOW.
The sights and sounds of the
next two days were almost sensory overload. The last day was dry and mostly
cloudy with a few sun breaks. We got glimpses of the towering mounts that
surrounded us as we paddled to less than a half a mile from the face of
the glacier on our way back to where the plane was to pick us up. Lots
of close-up views of the calving and riding out a few tidal waves, but
nothing too severe nor dangerous.
Of the many places we have
visited around the world this is one of the most exceptional. We were
in the first plane out and as the wheels cleared the rocky runway the
pilot banked the plane sharply towards glacier. We flew close to the glacier
wall at times looking up to see the top. We then flew up and over the
glacier with our wheels less than 20 feet off the ice. We had a great
view into the deep crevasses that made up the surface of this massive
river of ice. As we flew back out over the water we saw maybe 60 to 100
harbor seals laying on the ice flows. This was a spectacular trip!
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