Club Expedition to Alaska “Day 7”

Club Expedition to Alaska “Day 7”
22nd August (Wednesday) – Island Halfway up Unakwik Inlet to Meares Glacier

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Waking up in a wet tent after a night if more heavy rain and waves that came close to our camp spots it was relief to realise it had actually stopped raining. The plan was to be on the water by 9 as usual. The thought of a brighter day and sunshine later made packing away wet gear slightly more bearable.

Being leader for the day was made easier by the fact that we were repeating the previous days paddle from unnamed island partway up Unakwik Inlet to an unnamed spot for elevenses before heading onto Meares Glacier.

Setting off with less cloud meant that this time views of glaciers on mountain tops appeared briefly between the clouds. Views of mountain tops were rare indeed on this trip. As we paddled towards elevenses beach Chris commented it’s like Coniston on steroids, as the water was glassy and still and lake like in appearance for a while. After an elevenses stop that was noticeably warmer than the previous day; though the change in air temperature was still noticeable we set off ‘around the corner’ to Meares Glacier.

Some Glacier Facts (source https://alaska.guide/Glacier/Meares-Glacier)

Location: 61 ° 14′ 23″ N, 147 ° 25′ 3″ W

Region: Valdez-Cordova (CA)

Nearest City: Valdez

Length: 15 mi (24.14 km)

Elevation: 4528 ft (1380.13 m)

Tributary to: Unakwik Inlet

Aerial of Meares glacier, Prince William Sound, Alaska

Meares Glacier is the only advancing glacier in Prince William Sound. Located in the Chugach Mountains between Aspero Peak and Mount Michelson. It was named in 1909 by U.S Grant and D.F Higgins, US Geological survey for Captain John Meares 1756 -1809, British Naval officer, explorer and trader.

As we paddled around the corner, the amount of ice in the water increased, ‘icebergs’ but not really. Here is a definition of icebergs https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/iceberg.html what we were seeing were mostly bergy bits and growlers

Following Keith’s clear instructions not to paddle too close to the glacier due to the risks associated with calving, which increases at high water, there appeared to be a crazy race straight to the glacier. The size simply misleads the eye, and what looks to be close is still a safe distance away. The seals however hadn’t heard Keith’s warnings as they reclined on the ice flow at the base of the glacier. The signs of the advance of the glacier could be seen where trees had been pushed over along the shoreline. The thunderous booms as ice fell away from the face of the glacier were a reminder of the power of nature.

After taking many photos including the must have paddlers in front of the glacier shot, we made our way to the opposite side of the inlet and our campsite, right by the Glacier but protected by a rock outcrop from wave surges caused by larger chunks of ice falling off the glacier. Not long after landing the shout watch the boats was heard after a louder boom gave warning of a wave heading our way.

After unpacking in the sunshine (yes sunshine – a miracle it seemed) the beach was soon covered in kit drying and the tents up on higher ground were drying off nicely; the tarp went unused for a change. Apparently swimming with ‘icebergs’ is a must do thing – so Nikki and Mark got changed and divided right in. Mark even got on some ice to do what was described as a ‘mermaid’ pose. I didn’t know mermaids reclined on ice – I thought was seals. The water was reported to be refreshing and not as cold as expected -I took their word for it!

As the paddling part of the day had finished mid-afternoon there was time for some exploring and after a short scramble up from the beach a spot was found for glacier watching. Literally sitting watching and waiting for ice to fall of the glacier face.

Warm and relaxed it was time for evening meal and time to cook meant dahl and rice for Chris, Mark, Roger and me. After a rubbish fire started controversially by Keith not Ian ‘one match’ Bell, we drifted off to our tents for a dry nights’ sleep listening to the thunderous booms from the glacier and the sound of waves hitting the beach. A wonderful dry day.

Frankie Annan     More Photos……….       Audio Report……..