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Has anyone done any kayaking in Glacier Bay?


Bmach

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Yep. It was awesome! It was actually my first time in a sea kayak and 15 years ago, so I don't remember all the details and I'm sure it has changed. But, we flew from Juneau to Gustavus where you can rent boats and catch a tour boat into Glacier Bay. The tour boat dropped us off near the entrance to the east arm and continued into the west and larger arm (sorry, can't remember the names). You just tell them how many days you'll be gone and they stop by to pick you up in the same place 5 or 7 days later (or however long you want to stay).

We paddled in the east arm. It was very remote. I think we saw 2 other small groups of kayakers from a distance-I think we were there in late August or September. You camp on the beach. It's absolutely beautiful. Be wary of grizzlies. Be very diligent of following the rules about not attracting them ie all food prep and eating below high tide line, keep all food, toothpaste, deodorent, etc in the bear proof canisters far from your tent. One camping area was closed when we were there because of a bear encounter.

The glaciers are awesome. We brought crampons and ice axes to explore. At low tide we could cross the many tidal streams on foot and get up onto one of the glaciers (again can't remember which glacier-I think the farthest one up the arm). I remember thinking that if your lost your footing crossing in of those streams, you'd end up in a HUGE whirlpool full of small icebergs at the base of the glacier-bring a rope. Another glacier had a huge ice cave (or bridge actually) that you could go through.

I remember it being VERY windy where the wind came off one the glaciers-made minimal progress between gusts and no progress during gusts. Other than that it seemed pretty protected.

Small icebergs would wash up on the beaches-very cool to explore. I thought it was cool to slurp the melting glacier water out of the little depressions in the ice-'till I slurped one filled with salt water instead of fresh water. Keep that in mind if you decide to slurp.

On your "pick-up" day, the same boat that drops you off, comes to pick you and your boats and gear up and takes you on the rest of the boat tour into the western arm of the bay. There you'll see more glaciers and lots and lots of seals. Definately worth seeing that arm too if you don't see it by kayak first.

There was also a great B & B in Gustavus-I believe right on the water and I think a few minutes walk from where you get on the boat. They prepared the best salmon I've ever eaten and an awesome salad with greens picked fresh from their garden in the back yard. OK-just got the photo album out. It's called the Gustavus Inn. I even have a photo of the garden, so I guess I was impressed.

It's an awesome trip. Highly recommended. I would expect it to be quite different 15 years later, but I'm sure it will still be awesome.

Have a great trip if you go!

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Totally fabulous as others said. Assume you will be in pouring rain the whole time and bring appropriate clothing.

Remember you are paddling in a wilderness area: No one to hear a VHF radio, no weather broadcasts once you are out there. You will be on your own. Different mindset from around here.

If you paddle up the east arm - toward Muir - be careful at the entrance to McBride inlet. Books on paddling Glacier Bay note it as being dangerous and it is. A large inlet drains out through a narrow entrance, making for strong tidal currents, more like white water paddling than sea kayaking. Add icebergs from the McBride tidewater glacier and ....

There are times when the ice builds up and actually blocks the entrance. Talk to the outfitters and rangers about current conditions before you go.

On the plus side, on the tippy top of the steep island in the middle of the inlet is room for one tent: facing the glacier. Probably one of the most amazing tent sites on the planet but, alas, occupied when I was there.

Liz N.

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Right. The tour boats are restricted in where they can go and are limited to the west arm, and no other boats are allowed. There is exactly one Parks ranger boat to patrol the whole place, and Glacier Bay National Park is the size of Connecticut.

Bring flares too. Although you can go days without seeing another kayak, other paddlers will be out there. Flares get noticed in that environment and if anyone sees one, they will not ignore it.

Liz N.

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Camp on a point if you can and the breeze will help with the bugs. I really don't remember them being all that terrible. The farther up the east arm you travel, the more recently the glaciers have receded. So, there is a lot of bare rock and only short trees. Less wildlife. It is like going back in geological time with each mile. We saw moose droppings, but no bears anywhere close. The whales don't go up that far either. Probably because the water is so silty it does not support fish.

Liz N.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I did not see any bears but there was a head of moose left that had been taken down by a bear a couple of days before. Saw wolves, humpback whales, seals, porpises, eagles, sea otters, moose, goats high up on the cliffs and tons of birds that I could not even name. The bugs were not a problem at all. Did not even need bug spray. We did see lots of bear tracks near our camp site on the morning of the 2nd day but that was it. The wolves had fun playing with my rescue throw rope bag one night. They chewed on the handle and the buckle and pulled out most of the rope. The glaciers were so kewl also. For water we would just melt the ice from the burgs or just break off a piece and let it melt in our mouth. We stayed at McBride for 3 days and it just would not stop calving. All in all Muir was our favorite place to paddle. The last day on the way to the boat we paddled 21 miles and had a Humpback whale feeding nead us for the last 2 hours of the paddle. One time it came up for air no more than 30 yrds away from me. Of course I did not have my camera out for that one.

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