Category Archives: Kayaking

Whitewater kayaking and sea kayaking: photos and notes on whitewater kayaking, kayakers, whitewater rivers and locations for kayaking, gear, etc.

Another from Mount St. Elias

Mount St. Elias and Nootka lupine, (Lupinus nootkatensis) Icy Bay

Mount St. Elias and Nootka lupine (Lupinus nootkatensis) from Icy Bay, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

As I just sold a print of this photo yesterday, I thought it would fit with the recent postings from Mount St. Elias and a little chatter about the movie of the same name. This photo was taken from Icy Bay, from a small island I paddled out to in my now defunct and sitting in the Yakuat landfill sea kayak. The Nootka lupine (Lupinus nootkatensis) were pretty thick on this small island for some reason, much more so than anywhere else in the bay.

I’d have liked to stay on the island longer so I could take some photos in softer light, but Continue reading

Hubbard Glacier photo and Disenchantment Bay, Alaska.

Disenchantment Bay and the Hubbard Glacier, near Yakutat, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

So ya can’t go to Yakutat without a trip up to get some Hubbard Glacier photos. I wanted to do a flight-seeing trip to shoot this glacier, but the light wasn’t that great. And when the light was great, I was out at the beach. I need to get back down there and shoot some stuff of this glacier from the air to complement the images I got from lower down. The Hubbard is one of the most visited glaciers in Wrangell – St. Elias – you can’t really do a book on Wrangell – St. Elias National Park without at least some photos from the Hubbard Glacier.
Continue reading

Mt. St. Elias photo, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Mt. St. Elias and a field of lupine, Icy Bay, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Here’s another image, pre-bear, from Icy Bay. This afternoon I paddled my still inflated kayak over to this little island and hung out. Beautiful spot for a rest. The lupine just COVERED the island, it was really cool how much more intense the lupine ere on the island than everywhere else. They were awesome. As the afternoon grew, a big storm seemed to be kicking up to the southwest, and I grew concerned about being stuck and not making it back to camp – the boat is not really made for a paddle in rough water. So I packed up and headed back .. sure enough, the storm abated, and the evening grew calmer than ever, and I really wished I’d stayed out to catch some warmer light. But sometimes one takes what one gets.

This is another view of Mt. St. Elias from the Taan Fjord, Icy Bay, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park.



Checking out a torn up boat, Yakutat, Alaska.

Damage done to an Advanced Elements kayak by a grizzly bear in Icy Bay, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Would you say “Toast”?

One thing I’ve learned over the years is it ain’t over til it’s over. Too often we rule things out without a thorough examination of the situation at hand. And thinking laterally instead of vertically, one can often find solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems. Problem is, there’s a 10 foot long tear in the side of my boat, and it won’t hold air while it’s all torn up like that. And if it doesn’t hold air, it’s not a boat as much as a lot of rubber and plastic that I have to carry around. hhhmmm, wait a minute .. what’s that, under the deck, on the back of the torn up seat? Is it, could it be??? It is? Joy, look what I found:
Continue reading

Grizzly bear, Icy Bay Wrangell – St. Elias National Park

Grizzly bear in a field of lupine, Icy Bay, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Part 3 of the disaster at Icy bay. So I get back to camp, and the bear’s still trashing my gear over in the woods nearby. I don’t know the full extent of the damage to my gear yet, and I don’t know what he’s planning on doing next. I don’t know what he did with one of my (hopefully) bear resistant cannisters of food, my stove and cookware. Fortunately, I carry a satellite phone with me on trips in to the backcountry now, and I decide it’s a good move to call the pilot who flew me to Icy Bay and ask him to come get me. It’s a tough decision to make, because it’s such a pricey trip to make and have to cut short, but I didn’t have a backpack with me, so I couldn’t really feasibly move my camp gear too far, and the bear has made it clear he’s not leaving, and that he’s unafraid of me. I figured he was moving along the beach when he found my boat and trashed it, and is most likely to continue with that once he’s done with the gear. Which likely means he’ll be heading my way before too much longer.

I called the pilot, explained the situation to him, and he said he’d come get me if I wanted. I wanted. He asked how soon, and I said ‘well, now’s a good time if you’re available’. He was, so said he’d see me in an hour or so. I packed up all the gear in my tent, and was just putting my camera gear together in a pelicase when movement once again caught my eye. The bear was coming along the beach, on the edge of the woods as I thought he might be) and was about 40 yards from me, 20 yards from my tent.

I’ve written on my guiding website how much I like my Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2, and I really wasn’t in the mood to lose more gear, especially my beloved tent. At the same time, I wasn’t sure what I could do about it. I called to the bear, once more “Hey Bear” and he agreed to detour around the tent. By about 5 yards. He walked by it, thru a little stand of alder, and into a little field of lupine, where he took a few bites of the grass growing there. How could a photographer skip a chance shot like this? So I snapped off a frame, and asked him to leave – that’s the photo above. Instead, he started to approach:

grizzly bear, approaching, wrangell st. elias np, Alaska.

Which was kind of a bummer. I didn’t want him too close. And I decided he was too close. I backed up a little, and he kept coming closer. For the photographers out there, these images were taken at 200mm focal length (the first one at 100mm). That’s pretty close. He stopped and looked at me. I was already stopped and looking at him. We talked a minute, but couldn’t come to an agreement. I thought he should go away, and he thought he should not go away: an impasse with 500 plus pounds of grizzly bear. I told him I was going away, shortly, if he didn’t mind waiting. He said he didn’t want to wait. I stepped back, and he stepped forward. I stopped, and he stopped, his nose just a twitching. I was twitching too, but it wasn’t my nose. At this point I was a little uncertain what might be a good option for me. I knew the plane was still at least 30 minutes away, and wondered if the bear and I could sit and stare at each other for 30 minutes ….. hhhmmmmm?

All the while I kept talking with him. Finally, I decided I’d try something I never thought I’d do. Throw a rock at a grizzly bear. He clearly wasn’t leaving otherwise. So I slowly bent, picked up a hefty rock, and told him if he didn’t leave, I’d throw a rock at him. He didn’t leave. Bummer. I plucked up some gumption from somewhere, and tossed the rock into the brush in front of him. The bear turned and raced away immediately. I told him not to come back again, or I’d do it again.

Actually, one thing that was interesting to me was that he didn’t actually run ‘away’. He ran straight back over to his new kayak and dry top. I could hear him in the woods as I packed the rest of my duffel, and moved all my campsite gear down the beach to where the floatplane would arrive. Hopefully real, real soon.

It seemed like about 6 weeks later when I heard the drone of the engine, but I checked my watched and it was only 15 minutes or so. The pilot was hauling a**. He flew low over the area a few times, buzzing it loudly, and this seemed to run the bear off – I couldn’t hear him any more. The plane landed, and we loaded my gear into it, and then the 2 of us walked into the alder where the boat was. No bear. Cool.

I threw all the trash into a duffel, and hauled it to the plane, and the 2 of us hauled the boat out as well. I searched high and low for my second canister and couldn’t find it in the woods – I began to wonder if he’d eaten it. 🙂 Seriously, I knew he couldn’t eat it, and a gnawing thought in the back of my head told me exactly where it was. Sure enough, a walk to the edge of the brush and a look out over the bay told the story – there’s this little black thing bobbing in the ocean a 100 yards off the shore. We packed the rest of the gear, and then floated the plane around to that area, and by now the canister was on shore. It may be ‘bear resistant’ but it’s not ‘bear proof’. The lid has a hole in it where a really big sharp pointy canine tooth punctured it, and the canister had half-filled with water – salty dinner for me! I was glad to find the canister, but kinda bummed that the bear threw it in the ocean. Who knew bears were so vindictive?

Next up, fly back to Yakutat and check out the damage.



Where’s that boat gone?

Alder and grasses, Icy Bay, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park.

hey Folks,

So, after a little rest and reading and drifting in and out of sleep in my tent, I heard some noises in the woods outside .. branches breaking, cracking, etc. Half asleep, I ignored it. I heard it again. Still half asleep, I ignored it again. It continued. Coming to, I sat up and said to myself (actually I said it out loud, but didn’t want to acknowledge that I talk to myself here – people will think I’m crazy), “I know exactly that noise is – I need to go take a look”.

So I got up, threw on my sandals and walked around the beach. Rounding the corner, I saw my paddle lying on the beach. The kayak, which I’d left lying beside it, was nowhere to be seen. Instinctively, I looked out across the bay. I saw instinctively, because I KNEW the boat hadn’t floated away. I’d been very careful to drag it up well above high tide line, and had the add security of leashing it to an alder branch, so if the tide did rise abnormally, it would be secure. So I knew the boat wasn’t in the ocean. And a quick look over the water verified that. No boat.

I arrived at the paddle and I saw Continue reading

Sea kayak, Taan Fjord, Icy Bay, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Sea kayak on the shore of Taan Fjord, Icy Bay, at sunset, with Mt. St. Elias, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

So here’s the beginning of where this trip gets fun.

This is one of the last photos I took this particular evening. The day had turned into a gorgeous afternoon, and I had a blast. A nice supper round the corner from this point, with this view of Mt. St. Elias over the Taan Fjord of Icy Bay is pretty hard to beat. As the light got nicer and nicer, I was puttering around trying to make some photos. It makes for a long day here in the Alaska summer – this one here was close to midnight. My last 3 shots of the day were this one, a vertical composition of the same scene, and then a landscape image of this area without the boat. Then I went to bed. Continue reading

Sea Kayaking in Icy Bay, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park Alaska.

Sea Kayaking in Icy Bay, Mt. St. Elias in the background, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Alaska.

Hey Folks,

After a couple of days I was fortunate to have the weather clear up a bit. The place is pretty amazing. There were tons of birds in the area, gulls, oystercatchers, sea ducks, murres, murrelets, and more. Flowers were in full swing, and impressive stands of lupine were everywhere.

Most impressive however, is Mt St. Elias. I’ve been lucky enough to see a few great mountains around North America, and I doubt any of them are as impressive a sight at Mt. St. Elias. It literally soars skyward from the coast, towering over 18 000′ high. Continue reading

Icy Bay, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Swimming in Icy Bay, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

I think I’m going to title my first book, ‘From One Disaster to Another’.

I got back, safe and sound, from my most recent trip to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, but somewhat earlier than planned. I’ll tell it to you over a few posts, starting here.

I flew from Anchorage to Yakutat, a small town down on the coast, in northern South East Alaska. I was aiming to go from there to Icy Bay, an inlet on the Gulf of Alaska, and one of the few areas where the park touches the coast. I’d heard bits and pieces about the bay over the years, but knew very little about it. Everyone who’d been simply said ‘Oh, you GOTTA go to Icy Bay’. I’ve always been one to do as I was told, so, in time, I headed for Icy Bay. Continue reading