Monday, August 8, 2011

Sea Kayaking and Ice Climbing

This weekend I went on a three day (two night) Sea Kayaking and Ice Climbing trip. It was a free trip offered for kids by Alaska Mountain Guides, a local guiding company that offers mountaineering, kayaking, and climbing trips. I guess the purpose of the trip was to expose kids to these kinds of activities. I went on a mountaineering trip last year to Flower Mountain and a kayaking trip to Moose Meadows.

The night before the trip we had all of our gear checked. They provided the climbing, kayaking, and camping equipment (including food) and we brought our own clothes and sleeping bags, etc.

We left at 7 Friday Morning. We loaded our gear into a truck, then got into a bus to go to Chilkat State Park. From there we loaded up fiberglass triple kayaks with gear. Since we had so much stuff, we only loaded two people in each kayak and loaded the middle cockpit with gear.

From the State Park, we kayaked to Moose Meadows. It was very windy, so it took us an hour or two to get there. It was also low tide, so we had to go through a bunch of rocks without hitting them. We finally made it to Moose Meadows around 11. From there, we planned to go to Glacier Point, where we would camp. The next day we would climb Davidson Glacier.
On the left, Davidson glacier from moose meadows, wide-angle and close-up.
On the right, a random shot at moose meadows and a view of the Davidson Glacier from the air, taken while I was flying to ASRA.

Unfortunately, it was too windy for us to cross to Glacier Point, so we had to stay at Moose Meadows. We had lunch and then set up camp. I setup a few tents, including a big 4 person tent that was five feet tall. After I finished setting it up, everyone else had picked a tent, so I got this huge one all to myself, even though most of the other, smaller tents had three-four people in them.

My huge tent on the left and on the right is the cooking tent, with just two poles and a whole bunch of guy lines.

Later we went out for a short kayak. We tried to go to Kochu Island, but the wind was too strong and we had to turn around. It took us ten minutes to go down near the island, and about a hour to get back. Pretty amazing what the wind can do.

The next day it was calm, but the weather report from a weather radio said the wind was going to pick up that night. Since climbing would take a while, we might get stuck over there without being able to get back by Sunday afternoon, when we were due back. The guides decided not to take the chance. In the end, that was probably best.

So instead, we kayaked out to Twin Coves and had lunch, then turned around. The waves were getting pretty big, probably about two-three foot swells, which is pretty big for a kayak.
Twin coves, as seen from my plane on the way back from ASRA and a Panorama taken from the first cove (the cove with the little point in the middle). As an experiment, I uploaded a hi-res version of the panorama (actually about 50% smaller than the original). Click on the picture to see. Update: Hi-res panorama didn't upload properly, so it the same size as normal. My experiment failed! I will have to try some other time and figure out what happened.

After we got back, one of the other kids informed the guides about a fire they had accidentally started. While we were camped at Moose Meadows, the guides had been telling us to go to the bathroom in the intertidal zone or to dig a hole in the forest. But we were supposed to use a lighter to burn the toilet paper. It you are going in the intertidal zone, that isn’t a big problem. But if you are in the forest, it is sort of hard to burn toilet paper safely. You can’t exactly hold a piece of paper until it is completely burnt.

Anyway, one of the kids had gone to the bathroom and caught some moss on fire. He thought he had put it out, but discovered that he hadn’t after we got back from twin coves. All around a tree the moss was smoldering, making a lot of smoke. Everybody ran with their full water bottles to put it out. While I was running through the forest, I was thinking that we’d never be able to put it out with water bottles. I quickly scanned through our gear in my head and came up with dry bags. So every body filled up dry bags full of water and dumped them on the fire. I must have carried 15-20 half full dry bags to the fire, so somewhere around 40 gallons. Multiply that times 17 (the number of people on the trip), and you get a whole lot of water (about 680 gallons).

Since we were still pretty close to town, we still had cellphone reception, so one of the guides called the fire department and, who showed up an hour later. We had it mostly put out, but they double checked it and tore up the ground around the tree, checking for hot spots. They also gave us a short fire safety talk.
Later that night the sun came out and I took a few pictures.DSC_9325DSC_9384DSC_9338

The next day we kayaked back. Since we had the wind behind us, we made it in just 20 minutes. So in the end we didn’t get to go ice climbing, but we got to put out a forest fire and do some kayaking, so I had fun.

First day
Red line: to Moose Meadows from Chilkat State Park dropoff point.
Yellow line: From Moose Meadows, attempting to reach Kochu Island.

Second Day:
Green Line: From Moose Meadows to Twin Coves.

Dotted Orange Line: To Glacier Point to go Ice Climbing.

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