Our first paddle was 6 miles to the Dawes Glacier. Since we were paddling towards the glacier we were paddling into the katabatic winds that flow off the glacier and down the fjord. Therefore it was a long 6 miles but it was nice to get out on the open water and truly begin the kayaking adventure.

Click for detailed map.

We were traveling up the glacier cut granite cliff fjord of the Endicott Arm. All around us were snow peaked mountains that rose quickly to several thousand feet. As we paddled from valley to valley we could look up and see un-named glaciers off in the distance. Some were just shrinking remnants that were nearly spent while others will still be there long after my great grandchildren have come and gone. On average I would guess the Endicott Arm to be a mile and a half to two miles wide in most spots with steep nearly shoreless banks.

We arrived mid-day to a nice sandy beach that looked straight out towards the Dawes Glacier. Unfortunately the sandy portion of the beach was only exposed during low tide therefore all of the gear and boats had to be carried a long ways up shore. This is where my first taste of humility took place. It became very apparent to Scott that my old previously shattered ankles (another story and another adventure) didn't work very well on these slick round rocks and that I was at risk of hurting myself, the kayak, and perhaps others if I continued to help walk the boats up. I was given a permanent excuse from schlepping boats at this shore. I had mixed emotions but I knew Scott was right.

We spent two nights with an unobstructed view of the Dawes Glacier less than a mile away. A mile may sound like a long ways away but it's not. It would have been unsafe to camp any closer (even if a spot had existed). The face of the glacier is as high as a 33-story building. As calving took place (large pieces of ice breaking off) huge pieces of ice would splash into the water with a thundering boom followed by a tidal wave that would hit our beach and wash several feet up on shore.

No room service, no cable TV, no shower, but the restaurant and the view was magnificent. ... Oh, but it did have a big ice dispenser!

Because of this action we only landed one kayak at a time. Each would touch shore and quickly unload and run gear up shore to a safe area and then carry the kayak to higher ground before the next tidal surge.

As we sat around camp late on our first day we watched as a piece broke off that was the full height of the glacier. It was about 33 stories high and two and one half times wider than the average skyscraper. Wow, what a splash. The visual and the sound was AWESOME!

Our third day we paddled to closer than 1/2 mile of the glacier always being mindful that each time a calving took place we had to free ourselves, as much as possible, from the ice-flow so the kayaks didn't get damaged being squeezed between large ice chunks. We had to be particularly careful of the large icebergs.


List of other John & Patti adventures

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Last revised: December 15, 2007