Paddling to the Davidson Glacier Haines AK

Author: [ xtremepeaks ]   Contact Author: xtremepeaksSat Nov 14 21:24:19 UTC 2009

Park hosts at Haines showed me the view to the Davidson Glacier at Chilkat Inlet and told me about the lake below it where guides take tourists by canoe to view icebergs and the glacier.
Davidson Glacier
I decided to visit this place using my packraft to get across the inlet, only 5 km away. I chose an early morning start from Chilkat State Park, but the trip to the other side turned out to be far more complicated and treacherous than expected.

Soon after I started the north winds picked up and took my boat out to the inlet, where I kept drifting farther and farther away from Glacier Point, my intended destination.

Winds increased to 15 knots, the tide was coming in and I was battered by 2 - 3 foot waves, several km from shore. I struggled to paddle across to a beach, but wasn't getting any closer. A fisherman setting out his nets nearby finally noticed my struggle. He steered his boat to my side and asked: "Are you going to make it?". "I don't think so, I may need some help", I replied.

He grabbed my line and pulled me to his boat so he could take me closer to shore. As I tried to grip his buoy and turn around, I flipped my boat and fell into the ocean. While struggling in the waves I watched my boat and drybags float away.

The fisherman was quick to steer closer and start pulling me out, not an easy task. I made it to the deck, still warm and cozy wearing my excellent dry top and pants from Bomber Gear. We looked around for my gear floating away on the waves. His skillful handling of the boat got us close to my gear, which he retrieved using a long fish hook. I managed to get all my stuff back, including shoes, losing only a water bottle.

He got me near shore and I landed at last, several miles from Glacier Point. I packed up my gear and walked some hours along the shore back into the wind. I met a man living in a yurt on the beach, surrounded by an electric fence to keep out bears. He helped me with water and directed me to the guides' cabins.

I arrived at the Chilkat Guides cabins where they meet guests and bus them to Davidson Lake for a tour. One guide, Robin, was at the cabins and gave me a place to stay for the night. She also took me and my boat to the lake where we spent the afternoon exploring the river and lake for icebergs, spectacular views of the Coast Range and ventured on to the ice, checking out the caves and crevasses of Davidson Glacier. I paddled my ducky on the lake in strong catabatic winds after a long and exhausting day; truly a trip from hell to heaven.

Next day there was an even bigger storm on the ocean and I got a ride with the guides in a Zodiac to return to Haines, paddling was impossible. I am grateful for all the help from the people of Alaska, I would have perished otherwise.

Check out my photo at the glacier and others in my paddling set on

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