Posts Tagged ‘Alaska Airlines’

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 8

December 8th, 2010

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 7.”)

Part Eight: Juneau to Glacier Bay National Monument (now National Park) and Reid Inlet

Looking Back At Johns Hopkins Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, 1971 by Philip Hyde. This boat ride to Johns Hopkins Inlet will be featured in a future blog post. It comes up a little later on the same Alaska trip.

Thursday, July 1, 1971: Our alarm went off at 5:45 am. We had to get up in time to catch the 7:00 am Alaska Air Lines Twin Otter prop jet at the Juneau Municipal Airport where we had spent the night. We took our duffel and chute bag full of camping gear over at 6:30 am, ate a hurried breakfast and walked on the plane about 2 minutes before 7:00 am. Our prop jet flew nice and low, only about 2,000-3,000 feet up. In just 20 minutes we came in on an old military runway at Gustavus Airport on Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

The Glacier Bay Lodge van took us into Bartlett Cove where National Park Superintendent Howe greeted us. Philip and the Superintendent talked while David and I walked around. We were waiting for Mr. Guildersleeve, our pilot, to fly us to Reid Inlet out on Glacier Bay. David and I explored the interior of Glacier Bay Lodge, bought a wild edible plant book and took the nature trail through the forest of spruce carpeted with moss to Black Pond and out to the Beach near the dock. The spruce tree and moss carpet is distinctive following a glacier in the area, compared to dwarf muskeg forest in older non-glaciated areas. As we drove across the berm on the road into the lodge we crossed the dividing line between older and new forest. Succulent wild flowers flourished around Glacier Bay Lodge: Black lily, budding paintbrush, others, while at the airport there was a carpet of lupin, paintbrush and shooting star. Both the paintbrush and the shooting star were the same shade of magenta. Wintergreen bloomed on the moss carpet along the nature walk. At the beach Nagoonberry was also in magenta bloom and the wild strawberries were blooming too. David and I waited on the dock where two Park Service inboard motor boats were tied up, then we moved over to the beach.

We finally got away about 10:20 am from Bartlett Cove in a small single engine five passenger Cessna float plane. David was very impressed with having two plane rides in one day. We stayed about 1,000 feet above the water, which gave us a good view as the ceiling was not high enough to reveal all the peaks. We were told that this was good weather for Glacier Bay, especially with little or no wind and fair visibility. We could see miles of beautiful wild Glacier Bay shoreline, untouched forests, pond-dotted muskeg, raw glaciated terrain and a few glaciers. Reid Inlet looked the most desolate of all as we came into it. Very few icebergs in the inlet made it easy for Mr. Guildersleeve, our pilot, to set down on the inlet side. Mr. Guildersleeve paddled the pontoons close to shore and jumped across to dry land ferrying our duffel. We stepped ashore, over 40 miles from civilization in one direction and hundreds of miles in the other directions. We were three tiny dots on the glacial moraine, alone in the wilderness for what would be six days. After the float plane took off and its motor sound receded, an immense solitude settled in, except that we were surrounded by birds and their outcry at our invasion of their home. We landed a long way from the cabin and thus had a hauling job over large cobbled gravel “beach,” or more accurately glacial moraine. Large groups of birds whirled and roosted on the scrub covered headlands and water. A group of baby chicks, perhaps they were Tern young, down covered, waddled, careened, bumbled and baubled their way up the shore from us. We hauled our gear into the tumbled down miner’s cabin and set up our tent for sleeping quarters near a shrubby hummock. As it started to sprinkle, we all crawled into our cozy tent for a nap.

When we woke up we explored our glaciated environment. Reid Inlet is short as Glacier Bay inlets go, with Reid Glacier meeting the water at the upper end. The face of the glacier is perhaps two miles from the cabin at the mouth end where Reid Inlet meets Glacier Bay proper. The amount, size and color of the icebergs in our surroundings varied day to day. Sometimes the icebergs were black when they originated from the top and side margins of the glacier. The bluer and whiter icebergs came from deeper in the glacier. We heard the “groaning” of the glacier ice regularly. The tide left many of the icebergs stranded on the beaches. Everywhere there were marks of old beach lines as the land and water rose and fell in relation to the glaciers of the area. Philip Photographed the landing area in the late afternoon.

Most local flair and animation came from the birds which we saw in great variety, on land and sea, and at quite close range. It was nesting season. Terns and seagulls swooped in alarm over us and Semipalmated plovers put on a diversion act. The flora was in its early spring stage, some leafing beginning as well as some flower buds and a variety of willow catkins.

Debris from the previous mining operation included a big barge which David immediately dubbed his “jet.” He had a great time re-enacting his recent flights. We found a stack of peeled and rotting logs and cut up a few lengths for our fire. We ate a Weiner roast dinner outside between rain showers. After dinner we climbed up the steep bank of the inlet wall to the first shelf depression above. We found fascinating flora up there: ground cover of Yellow Dryad in the rose family, which matted over all the plucked rocks of the glaciated surface and made the going much easier. Philip took many 35 mm photographs of the various willow catkins and twisted, dwarfed trunks and branches near bursting with soon to bud new foliage. In the process, he flushed out a ptarmigan. Earlier I had surprised and flushed one or two grouse from a nest on the scrubby headland, revealing a feather lined nest with at least eight eggs in it that were buff color with no speckles. Beautiful small reflection ponds dotted the natural shelf. Philip said he wanted to return up there with his view camera. We descended about 9:30 pm and put David to bed. We did the same ourselves soon as the rain began again. We were snug and warm in our down bags in our little orange tent. We were glad we brought all of the gear we did. After the first day we knew we would need all our warm clothes and rain gear in this windswept wilderness on Glacier Bay.

Continued in the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 9.”