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Glacier Bay National Park Snoeshow

01-17-2020

By Lilly Stewart, Expedition Guide on the Wilderness Adventurer

Let me tell you about what may have been the first ever UnCruise Glacier Bay National Park, glacier-to-glacier, skiff, and shoe. This is one of those all day adventures that our guides have fantasized about but never actually attempted. The stars aligned. My group was only been told that we were going on an all exploratory all-day kayak adventure. They showed up ready for the day but with little idea of what to expect. As we gathered to discuss the plan I excitedly pulled out our unused snowshoes and told my adventurous group that we were going to attempt to snowshoe if conditions allowed. We packed our gear, lunches, and snowshoes into tandem kayaks and headed out onto the water.

It was one of those rare dazzlingly sunny days when Glacier Bay sparkles. We started our kayak from our anchorage at Reid Inlet. We couldn’t turn our backs on Reid Glacier just yet, so we made a quick trip into the inlet. This took us by the site of the Ibach Cabin where a couple lived for 30 years. We tipped our hats to the Ibachs and Reid Glacier and enjoyed a relaxed morning paddling along the base of towering cliffs. As noon approached we paddled into Ptarmigan creek cove where we did a surf landing on a rocky beach and settled in for a packed lunch. We sat on the beach looking out across the water at snow covered mountains with a tempting three-foot-tall snowbank at our backs. We watched as a giant cruise ship glided by us. We waved but I don’t imagine that anyone even saw us. One of the things that I love about Glacier Bay is that it can make even a 2,000 passenger ship look small and our kayaks look miniscule. Before we finished lunch the ship was gone and we were all alone in this vast place again.

At last we strapped on our snowshoes for the first time. I’m not going to lie, climbing onto the snow and getting the snow shoes on was a cumbersome process, but once we succeeded in getting everyone strapped in and standing up, it was pretty magical. It took us a couple of false starts before we found a good route but once we started climbing, we gained altitude quickly and were rewarded with stunning views of the bay below. After pausing to soak in the scenery and take a few celebratory photos, we made our way back down and loaded back into the kayaks.

A short paddle brought us around the point and gave the group their first view of the imposing, blue, calving face of Lamplugh Glacier. We pulled our kayaks ashore once again and scrambled up a short distance to find a stunning perch above the glacier. I was thrilled. This was a trip that I had dreamed up and not even known if it would be possible to pull off. The weather was exceptionally beautiful, the guests had been ready to embrace the adventure, and we even got to take the park ranger on an adventure that she had never experienced. To celebrate, I pulled out a bottle of wine so our guests all could raise a glass to this exceptional place and this kind day when we got to kayak, snowshoe, and hike in Glacier Bay.

How will you adventure in Galcier Bay National Park?

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