March 27, 2006

Ocean Spitting and a Canyon to Explore

With summer right around the corner, I recently moved out of my winter office in the park headquarters building and back into the Information Center near the harbor. Now, if I wanted to, I could lean out of my office window and spit into the Pacific Ocean. Cool, huh?

As I sit with my window open the breeze carries the sharp tang of the ocean into the room. Unfortunately, once salmon season starts to ramp up that nice tang will suddenly become the rancid odor of rotting fish guts. But I guess that's the price I have to pay for being able to spit into the ocean from my office.

Yesterday Sonja and I went for a snowshoe hike into a small canyon across the bay. It was a beautiful, warm afternoon, with just enough weather threatening to the north to make things exciting. We decided to leave the dogs at home, partly because Harvey somehow managed to slice up his leg on Saturday's beach hike, and some friends had mentioned they thought there was a lot of trapping that went on back there. So the dogs got to sit in their room all afternoon.

After skirting the edge of Alaska's only maximum security prison, we ended up passing a recent avalanche chute. It was pretty cool to see how the snow had oozed out into the creek, then how the water had sliced the end off.

A little farther upstream we encountered the only wildlife we saw on the trail. Well, we did see some Pine Siskins flying around in the spruce trees. One was even displaying a bit for us, doing figure-eights directly overhead.

As we entered the forest things got much more interesting. The trees got bigger and the canyon walls began to close in around us. As we got farther in we realized that there would be no way we could ever get into this canyon in the summer, as the meltwater from Godwin Glacier will be roaring through the narrow gorge. I think we picked the perfect weekend to see it.

The ice that was left on the creek was still several feet thick, but the running water and warm weather had opened up some rather large holes that needed to be navigated. Luckily, we were able to squeeze by on ice that clung to the edge of the cliffs and get even farther into the canyon.

But eventually, the creek won. The water had opened up enough holes in the ice to completely block our progress upstream. Sonja didn’t like that, and she got this plotting look in her eye. I spent the next ten minutes trying to convince her not to try jumping across to the next ice island.

Instead we spent a few minutes enjoying the feeling of being surrounded by ice, rock and sky.

It was a really cool hike. One that I’m really glad we got a chance to do before all this warm weather melts enough ice to make even getting to the canyon impossible.


janine renslow said...

Hey guys!!
you sure get to do some pretty amazing things up there!! Do ALL you can b4 you may leave Alaska! Thanks for all the incredible photos so we can enjoy it too! Have a :o) day and we will talk to ya again soon. MISS YOU BOTH & the BUBS too!
Love & Hugs, Janine (Your favorite sister ;o) !!)

amy said...

looks like a beautiful hike, and so much more melting than we have up here right now! beautiful, beautiful

Chris said...


Jolly good show. Absolutely why I want to come to Alaska one day. One day, though, when the wife and I have money. So much to see!

U Talkin/Red States

Chris in Florida