Sunday, August 19, 2007

Paddling In Prince William Sound
Another Dream Come True

Paddling in Prince William Sound is a Kayaker's dream. To do it with your son is something special.

We arrived in Valdez on a cloudy rainy day. We thought it would be great if the weather cleared and the clouds disappeared revealing the glaciers just like they advertise in the travel brochures we all read. We were in luck!!! We caught a weather report at the visitor center and an unbelievable event was to occur for the next 48 hours.... CLEAR WARM WEATHER!!! We quickly arranged a water Taxi to take us out to the Shoup glacier where we planned to spend the night paddling and hiking in among the glaciers.

It was fantastic. It is a bird sancturary. We paddled amongst ice in a bird rookery complete with researchers and scientists studying the habits of these birds.

Afterwards, we paddled towards the glacier where it dumps into the bay. Yep, that is Moose Lee doing some more "Outdoor Research" during a lunch break.

The paddling was great as we were in a protected bay of mostly cold, fresh water. There was a cave carved into the rock where a pretty fast river came pouring out of the glacier. It made for great paddling as long as one avoided the ice bergs :-)

Later in the day we took a hike up the side of the glacial moraine hoping to get up to the pass and get a glimpse of the massive Columbia glacial snowfield. The view back towards the bay was impressive.

Unfortunately we came across a massive glacial moraine that had melted out in the past 5 years. This was all supposed to be glacial ice covered with dirt according to our map. Global climate change bit us in the butt on this one. We were unable to cross in a timely manner for our trip. We were luckyto see remanents of the remaining glacial mass "calve" into the moraine. It was quite a sight and we were correct and safe in not proceeding across it and up the otherside.

We did get great views of the Shoup Glacier and the upper part where it joined the Columbia ice sheet farther back.

We spent the night there and paddled back to Valdez on a cloudless day with hundreds of salmon spawning and lots and lots of marine life feeding on them. As we got closer to Valdez, we saw about 100 boats out fishing for the annual Salmon fishing derby.

The evening came to a close for us as the last sailing of the Whittier to Valdez ferry came into port. The past 2 days had been like some dream that couldn't have been imagined to be any better. Moose Lee recalled his childhood days of fishing out of Port San Luis in southern California. After spending the night below the Valdez glacier we prepared to leave. However, we decided to drive out to the terminus of the Alaska Pipeline. We weren't prepared for what we saw. We saw thousands and thousands of Salmon returning up the river to spawn. In one particular spot, hatchery fish were trying to return up river but were blocked by a weir. It was an unbelievable sight. We picked fish up bare handed as they were everywhere... so thick, it looked as if on could walk across the bay on them.Apparently the bears know that the Salmon are running as well. There were warning signs all over the place and the local police and fire departments were out patrolling the roads to remind tourists not to get out of their cars. In one case, a grizzly sow and 3 cubs were given a wide corridor and had the road closed for a spell as they had to "herd" the bears out of the way of greedy fishermen.

That night we camped at Thompson Pass and enjoyed an evening of mountain biking in among the glaciated peaks.

The day wasn't done as mother nature bid a final adieu to the day and we enjoyed another spectacular sunset.
Magic? Lucky? We think so. Times like these only happen once in a great while.

Until next time, Moose Lee & Yukon Johann