Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 9

January 12th, 2011 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 8.”)

Part Nine: Layover at Reid Inlet, Glacier Bay National Monument


Rocky Promontory, Early Morning, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, 1971 by Philip Hyde.

Friday, July 2, 1971: We heard the patter of rain all night and it was still raining when we left the tent late, Philip at 8:00 am and David and I at 9:00 am. Philip and I built a fire in the cabin, which heated up fast. We sat at the tiny table by the window for breakfast. Then with all of our rain suits over warm undergarments we started out for Reid Glacier at the upper end of Reid Inlet, following the water’s edge.

The going was very slow and painful to rubber booted feet over loose rocks and through runoff streams. At each crossing, David wanted to step in the deepest water. We went back to our system of ferrying him across to prevent him doing this and getting his feet soaked. The rock weed showed up brilliant orange as the tide receded. Stranded icebergs made good photographic subjects. Philip had his 4X5 view camera, I carried his 35 mm. It took 2 ½ hours to from 11 am to 1:30 pm to reach the high domed point of land near the glacier where we stopped for lunch. We saw a National Geographic Society marker here with a note that Reid Glacier is under study. Diane and Dave Bohne’s names were in the register. Looking toward the mouth of Reid Inlet, we saw a small craft in Glacier Bay nearing the inlet. We guessed it to be a National Park Service patrol boat. They didn’t land or pay any attention to our waving or signals. After just entering Reid Inlet, they headed back out again.

After lunch we walked right up to the glacier face and above it on a snow slope. It rained off and on all day. The cloud ceiling was very low and we never heard a single airplane go over. We turned back for the long walk home. We had to eat dinner inside the cabin tonight, as the rain was too frequent to eat outside. After dinner David went right to bed. I walked around bird watching. I made my way out to the water where I could identify Harlequin ducks. On my way back the gulls swooped on my. It is an intimidating experience. They give a fierce war cry as they dive very close. Suddenly I was being sprayed with a thin water jet from behind. To my surprise it was a gull shooting the water stream at me and hitting a bullseye. While Philip wiped off the water, I spotted the perpetrating female gull on her nest not too far from where I had been. David had talked about this happening to him the first day we were here, but we thought he was making it up. The rain increased again and we retreated to bed. It rained off and on during the night.

Saturday, July 3, 1971: There was no rain in the morning. So we got up earlier. We had breakfast in the cabin and finished by 9 am. It was time for me to write in the travel log. David played nearby and Philip took off with his 4X5 view camera up the side hill of the inlet after the views. Before Philip set off, we all watched the Mariposa steam past Reid Inlet toward Johns Hopkins Inlet. The Mariposa looked unusually large out on the water from water level. Two hours and 40 minutes later we watched it return. By then we had climbed above the side wall above and the ship looked much smaller from there. Philip went on about an hour ahead of David and I, to photograph with his 4X5 view camera up on the first step I described in an earlier log entry. David and I followed after eating some lunch and brought Philip his. We found him up the slope from the first step, surrounded by budding willows. As we climbed a little fledging chick came tumbling down across our path, while the mother Fox Sparrow fluttered nearby. David and I napped and waited for Philip. As we all descended David flushed another Fox Sparrow on her nest of eggs. The weather and visibility were improving. There was no question that Guildersleeve, our pilot, would be able to come for us as planned. We had an early dinner, our last in the cabin, struck the tent and were all ready to leave.

Our pilot showed up right on time. We decided with the cloud ceiling as high as it was that we would take some extra flying time to see more of Glacier Bay. Anticipating to see where this might be, we were delayed by the need to make two trips to bring all our duffel to the plane. Philip made a photograph of David there before we left. We flew over Johns Hopkins Glacier, Lamplugh Glacier and a number of others.

As we arrived back at the lodge dock, the sun began to shine in this area as it had in some others on our flight. At first the sun was faint, but it came on stronger until we had a real sunset with colors and a show that continued for several hours. We made the long haul from the dock to the campground down the beach about ¾ mile. The space for a tent was in the bordering spruce forest on moss. The National Park Service provided a bear proof box hoisted by pulley into the trees. It was not only provided, but apparently needed as we saw fresh bear tracks on the road. There was a kitchen and fireplace in an open space just outside the forest and above the beach.

We raised the tent and put David to bed. We walked to the Inn and visited until 11 pm. I had to shade my eyes from the sunset glare pouring in the windows. Our conversation was with Robert Howe, Park Superintendent and Howard Freiss, the Hotel Manager. We met Jack Calvin with his party of 10 Sierra Club group on two boat trips in the area and to the South to Chichagoff Island, a proposed wilderness area. We went to bed around midnight. We realized we did not bring a flashlight on this part of the trip, but we never missed it.

Birds Seen At Reid Inlet:

Oyster Catcher
Canada Geese
Harlequin duck
White winged Scoter
Semipalmated Plover
Herring Gull – nesting
Herring Tern – young and adults
Golden Crowned Sparrow
Fox Sparrow – with fledgling and another on a nest of four eggs
Snow Bunting
Barn Swallows on nests
Black Guillemot
Yellow Warbler

Book: Wild Flowers of Alaska by Christine Heller

Flowers at Reid Inlet:

Dryas Drummondi
Russet shrub leafing out

Continued in the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 10.”



  1. pj says:

    That must have been something else, getting dive-bombed by those birds. I’ve never heard of that before. I’ve heard people say they’ve had gulls drop things on them, but never the squirting water thing.

    Love that photo of Glacier Bay.

  2. I appreciate your comment, PJ. Yeah, it was strange. I was dive bombed from above, that is, pooped on, and squirted with water from the ground. I think the birds that were shooting the water somehow were doing it to defend their nests on the ground.

  3. I have never had this experience with the gulls here. They tend to move up the beach away from me. Now you have me wondering where they nest here – I hadn’t thought about it before.

    This was a nice read, David. I enjoyed it.


  4. Hi Sharon, I always enjoy your comments. Possibly it is numbers related. At beaches on both the West Coast and East Coast, I have seen gulls sometimes flocking even in large numbers, but they seem to be shy of people. Generally for the most part they hang out in numbers of maybe a dozen or several dozen at a time though rather than hundreds or even thousands like they were at Reid Inlet in 1971. At Reid Inlet there were thousands of birds all tightly concentrated in that one small stretch of beach and glacial moraine. Also, we were invading their nesting area. They were not accustomed to having people around, except very rarely. Do you have large hoards and dense flocks of gulls or are they more sparse usually?

  5. We get hundreds of gulls in certain locations and when the fishing is good. You can see quite a few at spots where they dump scallop shells and they are fairly aggressive there. I have been on the beach when there were hundreds of gulls and pipers and ducks and large pods of seals all enjoying a feast.


  6. Hi Sharon, Wow, sounds like quite a ruckus. You are around the ocean more than I ever was even when I lived two blocks from the beach in Pacific Beach, San Diego. You probably get to see it with lots of birds and not as many sometimes too. I didn’t realize that there could be that many at once, but it makes sense if there is some kind of food source they are after. Let me know if you find out more about where the gulls nest. I am curious about it now too. I wonder if all gulls spit water at you if you invade their nest area, or if that is exclusive to gulls in Southeast Alaska. I love the ocean and all the wild bird activity that flourishes where the sand meets the waves.

  7. Dirck said there he knows of gulls nesting at Great Point which is the northernmost point on the east side of Nantucket. I’ll ask a friend from the Audobon Society here to find out more about their nesting habits. Great Point is often closed here because of nesting birds. One of my favorite beaches here is closed to vehicle traffic because it would disturb the pipers’ nests. I like that because it means no tire tracks down the beach!!

    Once, I was out shooting on the beach in almost white-out conditions with dozens of pipers feeding. It seems like they are out whenever the ocean is a bit churned up. Other times, you may see only one or two gulls.


  8. Earl says:

    David, a wonderful read and interesting encounter with the gulls. I’m enjoying exploring many of your previous posts and am certainly looking forward to those yet to come.

  9. Hi Earl, thank you for digging in and reading here. I appreciate you checking it out. Let me know if you have any questions or reactions.

  10. fabrizio says:

    wonderful and fascinating in b/w really a splendid result, compliments

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