ABOVE: Scott and Carol in the River off the North Dawes Glacier.

Click for detailed map.

Our first lesson in tracking. Scott was showing us both black bear and mountain goat tracks.

The Noble Lady, a steel hulled boat, shoved nose first up into the rocky shore where we formed a "fire line" and off loaded all of the gear and kayaks. It was a warm and sunny day and the perfect start to a great adventure.

Scott Leslie was the leader. An early thirties, handsome, knowledgeable, guy with wisdom that far exceeded his young age. He knew the wilderness, cooking, and how to handle people. Maureen "Mo" D'Armand was the next in command. She was a sweet, young beauty, with a constant smile, that could melt the hearts of boys and men and probably kick most Marine's butts and make them yell uncle. We had the added bonus of another guide that joined the group. Carol was not really working as a true guide this trip but offered extra wilderness experience to the group as well as another strong paddle.

As we unpacked and setup our first camp Scott and Mo began to fill our heads with interesting facts, helpful hints, and dos and don'ts of wilderness travel. For some members of the group tonight's camp was the first time they had ever even set up a tent in their whole lives. We were taught about living in the wilderness and living together.

Look, it's Yoggie. Quick hide the picnic baskets.


We learned about living in bear country. Never take food into the tent area. Don't leave candy wrappers in your pockets. All food, booze, toiletries, and other "smellies" were put into bear canisters or bear hangs each night. They also told us about what to do or not do when we came in contact with a bear. The list of things learned from Scott and Mo started that night but grew throughout the week. It included info about paddling in ice flows and around large icebergs, to beach landing near calving glaciers, how to pack gear to keep it dry, and compact, proper paddling techniques, and even how to make a killer margarita using glacier ice.

As Scott was giving us a few tenting tips when he looked across the river and said, "Well, ya wanna see your first bear of the trip?" There on the other side a long ways up the cliff wall was a lone black bear, but that was only the start. That first day we had at least 21 black bear sightings. We guessed there were probably 12 different bears but it was hard to tell. Some of the bears came fairly close (within 70-100 feet) but they were all well behaved.

The guides did all of the cooking on a propane stove and we always ate very well. Our first night we had fresh halibut steaks, mashed potatoes with sour cream, fresh tossed salad with a choice of dressings, wine, and cookies. Later in the week it was tacos and Tecate Beer, Pasta with Pesto Sauce, Chili, Pad Thai, ... We ate very well.

Every kayak was FULL really really full and very heavily packed. At each new campsite we had to schlep all of the gear to high ground and the kayaks to above tide level. All of the kayaks had to be checked for food crumbs/wrappers, and the spray skirts wrapped around each cockpit to protect from rain. Each night we had a bear hang for all of the food and smelly stuff like toiletries and such. Since we were in a designated wilderness area we had to leave our campsite just as we found it. As much as possible we tried to leave no trace that we had been there. That meant carrying out all of our trash and even the toilet paper. The sun set around 11:00 each night and rose about 3:30 each morning. It was really only dark for about an hour and a half.

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Last revised: December 15, 2007