7ime photographing the gravel bar, and trying to visualize the dynamics of bar formation. It must be a grain-flow with sheets of gravel m oving over surfaces formed by previous high currents. Control by velocity, where gravel gets piled up by high velocity because it moves, then gets dumped as velocity slows because the gravel is piled up. The current then divides, or braids, increasing velocity only to pile up another bar of gravel, and so on. Another example of a process defeating itself, wanting to transport, but in so doing causing an obstruction.

We scarf down another great lunch, with topping of elk jerky from Steves larder. elk jerky from Steves larder, pack up our loads and watch as the fog lifts and we get a clear view of Matterhorn peak and glaciers 6 miles away down the Alsek. We push off through our little harbor, and hit the really big water, 100,000 cfs plus some at least. Reports of 1.3 million seem to be exaggerated. The current is still fast, but there seem to be less braids, and more channells. We have to be exact now though, because to be stuck on the wrong side of the river would mean totally missing camp, and losing the other boats. We play with the currents and braids, and marvel at how fast the right decision will take a boat away from the others. Several main canyons yawn on the left, filled with dirty glaciers clinging to the sides of vertical cliffs. The sun starts to poke through and we rejoice, maybe this is the end of the bad weather. We have been warned tho that the weather gets worse toward the coast, and seems to pile up at the Walker Glacier, our destination tonight.The sun starts to Tat 5

We pull in to check out the hike at Matterhorn peak, and bask in a ray of sunshine, wandering a huge gravel bar, and bemoaning the lack of time to do one of theclassic hikes of the tat, but we need the better part of a day to hike to the saddle below the peak, and the weather still looks tenuous at best. After a pleasent interlude, talking, walking,wading the channels and admiring the sheer cliffs and cascades above, we head on around a cliffy corner, hugging the left, but not too far left to clear the bars and stranded trees there. We can see the Walker Glacier now downstream, flowing out of a high notch in the range, glistening white and gray in the sun. Mike is determined to make this camp, and stays to the left, with some confusion in the braids. The main current is a mile to the right, so we have some narrow passes and a few bumps and grinds. The beach affords a great landing place, but is knee-deep in mud, so we opt for a rocky point where the current is sweeping by. A major tug of war ensues as we dock the boats sideways and unload up a steep gravel bank. Carrying the kitchen to the shelter of the trees immediately unleashes the fury of a million mosquitos. No, not a layover camp with mosquitos! There must be still water at the mouth of the glacier, or marshes back in the woods, because they are there with a vengeance, the little blood-sucking bastards. We set up the fire pit on a knoll where a steady breeze keeps the mosquits to a minimum. The cooks don headnets, and we head out to find a breezy point for our tent. This done, I take a hike, limping on my strained calf, out onto the moraine of the active glacier. It is called the walker glacier not because of some famous dude, but because it is handy to the river so you can walk on it, and was named this by river-runners. the early My reverie is interrupted by a huge crack like a cannon shot. I can see the face of the dirty iceflow, and a huge piece falls off and into the river. This kicks up a huge wave that washes over a low bar and into the main Alsek. Wow, there is some power. No wonder Wegener was so impressed by glacial calving. Its huge energy and size was a model of how continents drifted to him. Others mocked him because there was no driving mechanism, but Wegener was convinced from his gut because he knew such large-scale movements were possible as show by the glacial activity I just witnessed.

I return to lower conciousness, and Sam gets his vodka bottle out, mixing up the gatorade for a nother round of soma juice. We perch in our chairs on our breezy ridge and watch the mountain change. Soaring peaks, patch glaciers, and the monster presence of the Walker glacier looming above the disordered rocky ridges of moraine. Dinner calls, and we down an incredible feast of barbequed halibut, fresh bread and salads. We are ready for dessert, but fire girl has been at it a gain. She put the tupperware with cheezecake into the river where it was flowing under the boats, and it has dissappeared. She is also somewhat fucked up, which adds to the drama of the situation. Oh well another snafu, we are now all beginning to know the meaning of the word. Sunset plays on the peaks like searchlights, shining through holes in the clouds. We pray for a sunny day tomorrow, our major layover, so that we can explore the glacier in sunlight. The deet does a great job on the mosquitos, and we talk around the fire until time to bed. I firmly place the coffee pot on the fire before I retire, now not trusting a soul in this critical duty. dominate our conciousness

Steve is hurting now, lying low in the tent and we worry. Randy says there is nothing we can do, and as long as he doesnt get any worse, he will be ok till takeout, now only 4 days away.

Day 11 dawns foggy and misty, and we follow the routine somewhat later than usual, this being a layover. I am the first out of camp, headed to the glacier, with ski poles, boots and plenty warm and dry stuff. I marvel at the glacial geology, towering m oraines of fantastically deformed rock, and the mother glacier herself, dirty at the lower end, covered with rock fallen from the steep ridges above. I can see where the calving took place yesterday, a clean break in a 50' overhang at the front. The trail leads across a jumbled moraine landscape with many moose-prints weaving around. The mountains dissapear upwards into the mist, and the sun tries hard to poke through to no avail.

I climb down from a fragile lateral moraine on to the ice, hard and blue deep in the crevasses. Sam, Bill and the girls catch up and we marvel at the pressure ridges of sand pushed up through the ice by stress along the edge of the glacier. It starts raining lightly, and we make our way out onto the ice, bypassing major crevasses with waterfalls plunging down into the blue-dark depths. The crevasses are extension fractures, oriented perpendicular to the direction of glacial flow. I can also see faint flow lines, probably a surface manifestation of the foliation in ice following the direction of flow. We stroll up to the foot of an icefall, a vertical cliff of ice formed as the glacier plunges over a huge ledge. We climb gingerly down, testing our traction on the wet ice, me thankful for the hiking sticks giving me more stability. My heart sinks in fear each time a crevasse appears and I navigate a wide berth around the danger. We descend into an ice-bowl, right at the base of the fall, and hang out in the rain, marvelling at the immense force. There is an eye-shaped rock in the middle of the fall, where the ice has melted over the ledge. A side view of the fall and ledge presents itself at the high ridge.

It is fantastic landscape, but eventually the rain gets to us, and we start back down toward camp. This is a major dissappointment, we planned to spend the whole day climbing as high as possible on the glacier, but the rewards are slight, and we opt to return, carefully working our way down the margin this time with the lateral moraine towering 500' above, and great rocks fallen from the moraine scattered about. I can see how the rocks work their way down crevasses into the glacial ice. Along with rocks plucked from the glacial bed, these are the teeth of the glacier that allows it to cut into solid rock, forming the U-shaped valleys around.

More pictures of glacial details, swallow holes with water cascading down, and great views up the Alsek river, to where Matterhorn peak should be. My calf is still aching, so I lag behind the others and end up singing and yodeling my way through the brush to camp, letting griz know I am here. After a munch of leftovers for lunch, I repair to the tent and let the afternoon slide by snoozing and reading and listening to the rain whisper on the tent fly. I should mention the tent, a North Face VE-24 old style, absolutely waterproof even in the most extreme conditions. Others had similar domes from llbean etc and were constantly battling leaks and wet floor. Our only problem was that the zippers didnt work, so we wore repellent for mosquitos, and pursuaded the outside zipper to work enough to keep the rain out of the door.

Another conciousness lowering session, but Sam is being skimpy with the vodka. "We have to make it last to takeout" he has it calculated. I shoulda brought backup. Snafu rules. We have another great meal, the memory of which fails me, but it was great, and we sit around a smoky campfire talking of the weather, the river and the life ahead. A great event occurrs, the presence of other people on the river, 4 boats, probably bart the fart and his chilkoot guides trip. they appear like ghosts out of the mists and go into camp about a m ile downstream. Mike is worried about logistics, we go to talk to them, but cannot get across the bay at the mouth of the glacier. We might see them downstream, but there is supposed to be plenty of camp space at Gateway knob, our next layover camp.Donna has found a rat of some kind that likes shit. She went to the groover, and heard a noise and a shit-covered rat jumped out. This dude must be desparate for food. Day 12? The Gateway knob snafu I hear the familiar sound of rain on the roof, and burrow down in Kate's fuzzy warmth of bag, and try to sleep a little more. But it is another day on the river, and we have miles to make and new territory to explore, and another layover tomorrow at the high point of the trip, Alsek lake with a dozen glaciers cascading down. I poke my head out into the gloom, and am greeted by fog, clouds and a steady dripping rain. No mosquitos tho, so I am at the coffee makins fast and proceed to make quick work of a great breakfast. We are slow getting packed up, it takes a good 2 hours to break camp, stow the kitchen, food and personal gear on the boats, get dressed, empty the pee bottle and check out the scenery and talk with other people about the trip, the weather, the situation in Iraq or whatever comes to mind. I am now packed in four bags, with one for my sleeping pad and tent, and the others for sleeping bags and dry clothes, and one for damp clothes that wont dry in this weather. I also have taken over part of the toolkit ammo can, and also have my pelican box with camera gear, and various other items stashed in the cooler under my seat, which is emptying out rapidly. Sam is deliberatly tieing on his ammo can, and various bags with day stuff, as does Bill. We grin at each other, rain dripping off our hats and shove off into the torrent.

We can see several miles down and across the river, it is even wider here, and really difficult to navigate. We wave at the commercial party camped below, they look like they are hanging in camp today, with a fire going and a major tarp setup like ours, drinking coffee and staring off into space as we pass a mile away. The plan here is to pull to the right bank and follow it down to a stream where there is clear water for our pump. We beach at a roaring cascade that descends through a gash in the ridge high above. The water is sweet and we fill canteens, and a great pumping scene ensues, probably not necessary but nonetheless an activity that keeps everyone warm. I stroll up stream to a sand bar, and look at the sand. The composition is mainly rock fragments, a little quartz, and clay. This is the source of graywacke sandstone and shale, deposited in turbidity currents in ocean trenches, with this stuff headed for the Aleutian trench about 20 miles off shore. I can create little turbidity currents by pushing the edge of the bar with my foot and watching the dense current flow underwater. They create graded beds right before my very eyes, the very stuff of mountain ranges. The bedrock is plutonic diorite laced with white quartz dikes.

Back on the rio, the fog gets thicker. We are supposed to be in a huge corridor with mountains and glaciers on both sides, but all we can see is a mile or two of river, and a feeling that there is something else out there. We get separated with about a mile among us, and as the fog thickens, we lose sight of a boat now and then. A low roar from downstream greets our ears, signalling rocks and rapids ahead. The rain is still dripping, and we are cold, taking turns at the oars to stay warm. The rapid proves to be a few rocks at the side of the river, but with swifter current, no problem. We pull over to regroup, and let everyone catch up, but no one wants to get lunch out. I munch on a cold hard powerbar as we shove off, looking for landmarks that are supposed to be there, but are shrouded in cloud. I am straining for landmarks. There is supposed to be a long sandbar on the left with some breaks in it out to the lake. The word is that we should go right of Gateway knob if possible, the easier route, the left leads to the lake, which is often packed with icebergs (or "bergs" in the vernacular). We are gliding along, looking intently for any sign of the bar or gateway knob, but the fog is ever thicker, and we cant see more than 100 feet or so. The near topography on the left is a low ridge, with no breaks. We suddenly see another group camped on the left. They are standing out in the rain, with only a tiny tarp to protect their food table, we wave and pass on into the gloom. An engine comes into earshot and a plane passes close overhead, flashing by with only a glimpse of the fuselage and wings. They must either be very crazy, or have done this many times before. maybe they have radar to visualize the canyon. They dissa ppear like a ghost into the gloom. ar like a ghost into the fogbank. Now a break appears in the left bank, and most of the river seems to be draining out that way. We try for the right bank, but are too far left, Mike gets swept left far ahead, and I decide to go with him, we shouldnt get split up out here, with no visibility. The others follow, and if we have missed the right channel to gateway knob, we are all in the same boat. We are screaming along in the main current close to the left side of the long island, it must be the sand bar that divides the river upstream from Gateway knob. We want to camp on the downstream side of the knob, and need to be to the right of the knob. We land briefly, all getting cold and creaky, and check the map. I think gateway knob is just downstream, and we should be in a channel that heads to the right of it. But we wont know until we can see it. We talk a bit and agree to go until we can see the knob, off we go again, now with Sam rowing. Finally, a vertical cliff appears downstream, the right side of gateway knob, but the current is leading to the left of it, out into the lake, and several channels are cutting across to the left, making any move to the right impossible. We land and powow, and the decision is made to take our chances with the lake, and find a way through the bergs. We can see them in the fog, and hear them grinding against each other with low groans, like some one in major pain. side of the knob, and need to passWe row out, the current still moving, and cross the lake towards the bergs. One opinion seems to be that there will be space between the island of gateway knob and the bergs, and it will be an easy row along the shore. Mike voices this opinion, and I reply "what happens if there is no gap to go through ? " he shrugs and we are off. The closer we get, the more impentrable the berg wall seems. No room next to the island, so we head out across the current to find an opening further out into the lake. The problem is that the current is carrying us toward the berg wall, and Sam isnt rowing strongly enough or in the right direction to get us out of harms way. I envision us piling up against the bergs, being held against the ice wall and then sucked under to a very cold watery death.

I make several urgent suggestions as to how he might improve things, when suddenly he slams down the oars and yells "God damn it terry, why dont you take the oars?" "Gladly" I reply and jump into his seat and scoot out into a relatively calm spote'heave on the oars so we , with the others following suit&p&r9 am very cold and fried. We pound down some power bars, and try to get our near hypothermed bodies to move again. It begins to rain, and I am convinced we should stay here. I voice that opinion to several, but there seems to be a wait and see attitude. We try to light a fire, but everything is soaked. Mike is upstream, trying to see if we can make it to the right of the knob. After a long while, he returns, and says it is doable, with two channels to traverse and several hundred feet of upstream dragging of boats. That to me seems rediculous, and I am cranky, low on protien, and energy and patience. We would be in camp now if we had hugged the right bank above the island. I am outvoted, and trudge away, resigned, but headed for the rowing seat so I will at least be somewhat in control of our boat. Donna comes by with a box of cookies, and lifts our spirits. We row as far upstream as possible, then scoot across the first channel safely. Mike and Randy stand guard to catch any boats that didnt make it. Al proves his strength, and does a great job powering the last boat across. Now it is boat-dragging time, I stay at the oars, to keep the boat out from shore, and Sam and Bill pull on the bowline to keep us moving upstream. We surmount some minor obstacles, a bay and a major stump, by alternately paying out the line, so I can row out into the current, then pulling it in after passing the obstacle. One thought I have had is that this is all the water going left of the knob, and there is no water going to the right. At the top of the bar we can see current going right, and rejoice. We scoot across one more channel, and then expend more major energy dragging the boats to the top of another bar, the last one separating us from the right channel. Everyone hoots and hollers, glad to be back on the track again, and we glide under the cliffs of Gateway knob. We work to the left, and tuck in behind the island. A great beach lies before us, and we work our way in calm water to what seems to be the best camp. It starts to rain again as we hit the beach and everyone gets the kitchen stuff up to a sheltered spot near some bushes, high above the shore. Waves have been known to sweep into this shore and inundate everthing up to the bottom of the knob, so we are conservative. Not I, close to hypothermia, I find a spot close tothe rafts and set up the tent, strip my clothes off and snuggle down into the warmth of Kates bag, feeling the instant heat of the fleece. I fall asleep, and wake an hour later, feeling somewhat recovered, but still nauseous, and shivery. I curl up in a ball to conserve heat, and snooze some more, finally feeling recovered enough to dress warmly and go get something hot to eat. The kitchen is in full swing, and a large fire is roaring, no fire pan now, "This is an emergency fire" Randy says, weve got some close hypothermia people. Steve emerges, and Randy sits him close to the fire. He is not moving very fast, and has slow speech. He sits and absorbs the heat, and is soon chattering away. We are all wiped out, the accoutrements come out and Sam sits in his tiny walrus chair, still in his wet suit. He seems comfortable, and agrees that he is warm and sees no reason to change. He gets the vodka, and has almost 1/2 bottle left, we gotta do some damage to that. OJ is on the table, so several screwdrivers later, we have a pleasent glow.

The rain stops off and on, and the view comes and goes. Just offshore there is a line of bergs, shuffling and groaning constantly. It streaches off down stream into the fog. Out there somewhere is Mt. Fairweather (aptly named) and about 10 major glaciers that flow into Alsek Lake.to the left of it, out into Alsek

One of the most spectacular campsites in the world, and we cant see the view. Well maybe it will clear up tomorrow. We have another major meal, and sit around the fire, under a stump with clotheslines all around draped with various wet items. Al has left his bottle open and invites me to have another screwdriver, which I do and dodge the raindrops back to the tent to fall into an exhausted sleep. nthe glacial geology, towering mwith boulders rainy

spectacular Glipses of glaciers streaming into Alsek lake appear and disappear in the mists. Another gray day dawns, we roll over and try to sleep, but it is the last day in camp and there is work to be done. The fire is still going, having burned part of the stump. My polypro silkweight shirt has a big torched spot on it, fortunatley low and on the left, so I take a pair of scissors toit and sculpt it a new look, still functional. Coffee happens, and I rummage around, finding my stuff hither and yon where it got parked in the confusion, cold and partying last night. Mike and Donna are organizing cleanup, and I get assigned the major coolers. They are still on the boats, so I go out and start throwing them around, washing them out with bleach and all kinds of nasty stuff, and laying them out to dry as best I can. I wear the walkman, with the mozart piano sonatas ringing in my ears, until the wire to the headphones gets snagged on a cooler I am throwing off the boat (never throw anything on a boat, my dad always said) which neatly clips the wire right at the plug, and the plug connection is sealed, not repairable. Shit, it happens all the time. The fog dissapates, but a low cloud cover remains, cutting off all but the lower 1000 feet of the mountains across the lake. Man it is spectacular even now, with 10 major glaciers coming down and emptying into the lake. We can hear the groaning of bergs rubbing against each other, and every now and then one capsizes with a splash, or rocks back and forth slowly as they do their thing. I note the water at the shore has a regular surge, about 3 m inutes up and 3 minutes out, this may be a steady state seiche ebb and flow from glacial calving across the lakes. I look at the bergs, and they are a packed train that extends way out into the lake, downstream from Gateway knob. If we had found a way through the berg wall upstream, we would have been trapped on the far side of this train of bergs and would have been screwed for a camp. As it is, we have a great wide beach to hang out on, with logs strewn around. We are aware that a major calving event could send a 20 foot wave toward our shore. Everyone else camped back in the bushes far from shore, but I was too wiped to carry my stuff up there, and our tent is about 40 feet from the shore. Every time I hear the cannon shot of another calving event, i wonder if the wave will come. I saw the power of the calving wave at the walker glacier and shudder to think what might happen here.k The mists seem to be parting a bit, and we pray for clearing again, but to no avail. Chores done, people drift off to a spectacular point, with bergs in the foreground and a backdrop of lake, glaciers and ridges reaching up into the clouds. The cover does lift another 1000 feet or so and we can see sun shining on the glaciers in far away saddles, and we gather to mellow out and take in the scene. on the beachMike and Al head off up the shore, where a clear area penetrates the brush up a steep rockslide. Sam has already disappeared up there and I follow, tiptoeing along the rocky shore watching the ebb and flow of the bergs, and listening to their rumblings like a stomach gone bad.

The slope has loose rocks and sand, this side a moraine steeper than the angle of repose. I pick my way up, jamming my hiking poles in to keep balance and upward momentum. The higher I get, the more I can see, until at the top the full panorama of alsek lake, the trail of bergs to the west, and the berg dam we ran up against yesterday, with a clear shot of the great valley we floated down to the lake. Sam and I climb to the highest point we can find, alternately bashing through the alder brush and kicking steps in the steep loose slope, where one misstep would place one suddenly 1000' below on the beach where we planned our upriver foray yesterday. We take record shots of each other with the glaciers in the background, and head back down the way we came. We hang at the plateau for a while, relaxing and taking in the view. It gets more spectacular, then closes in again, and rain threatens. I find a trail through the brush and avoid the open slope on my return trip. Stuff is laid out for lunch, and I eat a good one, and then take a nap in the tent, with the pitter of raindrops on the roof and the groan of the bergs making love out on the lake, punctuated by the cannon shots of calving incidents.I prepare to hike to the top of Gateway knob as

Dinner sounds emanate from the cook tent and I drag myself out into a pause in the drizzle and cruise over to the gathering. The last night on the river, after 12 nights together, we are a group set in our ways. Stan is still taking it easy but looks a lot better than he did last night. Sam brings out the vodka, and there is a lot left, so we drink a lot. Dinner is another masterpiece, with more beer bread in the d.o. We have a roaring fire and stay warm. A marmot whistles to us and dances around on the beach, with cameras following his performance. I set up some fire experiments, and wait for it to get dark, but finally relent at about 9 pm, it wont be really dark until midnight and we need an extra early start tomorrow morning to get to the takeout by noon and pack for a 3 pm airplane takeout. The wheel of fire gets great reactions from all so I do several with flaming steel wool far from tents. I fire up a grease bomb, and it does ok, kinda fizzles, but everyone is impressed. I am really tired, even with the nap, so I head off, with Sam and Al haranging each other around the fire. I am sound asleep, and hear Sam: "Hey Terry, theres a lot of this vodka left, we should finish it!" I am very groggy, and say "Finish it yourself, we coulda had more upstream, Im asleep". "Oh comon, this is the last night of the trip!" I finally relent and take a small hit from the bottle, and he disappears his foot steps crunching back toward the fire.with Mike is hunting for equipment, and takes the bag I had the tent in, we can find some other place to put it, in the cooler for the short ride to the takeout tomorrow. I collect my knives and other stuff that had been in the kitchen, and pack everything for a quick getaway tomorrow. The other private group that was sitting in the rain yesterday up at the spit come cruising by, heading for takeout today.words Copyright, 1998, Terry Wright5547 day 12: the final push and takeout at Dry Bay The familiar soft drumming of rain on the roof lulls me awake, and I realize the there is a lot of activity at camp, a quick breakfast, most stumbling around trying to brush the cobwebs of major partying the night before out of our brains. I make the coffee and collect the last of my things from the kitchen larder. When we arrive at takeout, everything has to be packed as compactly as possible to fit into the airplanes to get out of dodge. We are worried about the weather, it is coming down in alternate sheets and drizzle, and if the cieling is too low, the planes wont fly and we will spend another night at dry bay (which will be anything but dry) before we can leave. The arduous packing job is done in jig time, and we are off in a light drizzle, with low visibility, following the train of bergs to the west, and feeling the increasing tug of the current as the Alsek flows out of the lake. We catch glimpses of the glaciers under a low cloud cover, and wave good bye to the glacial wonderland. Sam rows as we enter the flood, and we keep a wary eye out downstream for obstacles, this time they are stranded bergs, with huge waves and holes downstream. A few smaller bergs float along with us, accompanying us on our way to the ocean. The landscape is featureless, we have no real idea where we are, low forest coming right down to the riverbank. Suddenly a speck of color appears downstream, an American flag! and a set of buildings, a boat on the shore. Civilization at last! This is a fishing camp, and nets are strewn about the bank, getting ready for gill-netting season which begins today. No one around, but several other small camps appear, and 2 guys in a boat motor up stream in search for salmon. We are intent on finding a small passage to the left, a channel that leads to the fish packing plant at dry bay and the landing strip, our connection to the real world. After much anxious poking about, with Mike leading the way hugging the left bank so as not to miss another important connection, we find the entrance, and soon the hum of agenerator then the roar of airplane engines starting up and taking off from the airstrip. We check out several possible egresses, and finally find a beach and narrow sandy path that leads to the airstrip. After a semi-arduous takout with as little bitching as possible, we and our equipment are strewn about a grassy area, ready to pack. This is an interminable process, but Stan has instructed us well and the frames pack up into neat little bundles, the oars come apart and straps and oar blades go into the coolers, and the rental equipment is soon in a great pile ready to board the plane for Haines. The sun breaks through, and we breath a sigh of relief, we will get to fly out today, if all goes well at the other end, that is the office of Haines airways, which is the company flying us out. The ends of the food appear on a table and we chow down, not wanting to leave anything to pack out. I grab the leftover elk jerky and my smoked salmon from Haines for later snacks, and we all pose for a group picture holding oranges, the last of the lot. I write on the snafu flag "Tat '97-Gateway Knob" and have a picture taken of Mike, Sam and myself as a record shot of another notable SNAFU episode. We work in a frenzy to get the final prep done for the fly out. The NPS ranger comes by and we talk, touching bases. We are scheduled for flyout at 2pm, and all is set as the time comes, and we keep a wary ear for the sound of an airplane. One arrives, but it is not ours. The Ranger said that the planes that left this morning flew out the 2 groups ahead of us. They had to spend the night because of the weather. Most groups fly north along the coast to Yakutat, some 40 miles, because that route is always open with no fog along the coast. There is a big airport at Yakutat, and Alaskan air flys out of there. We are headed to Juneau south along the coast and inland, and have motel reservations there, and the rental equipment is headed to Haines. The time wears on, the planes are an hour late now, and we are all getting worried. Al is freaking out, he wants to get out of Alaska, and to fly back to California tonight. He pesters the Ranger with questions, trying to be perfectly clear about all the pros and cons. We hear a musical ring from the radio telephone at the Ranger's waist, and he answers, it is Stan, and he hands the phone to Mike. We gather from the conversation on our end that Haines air has cancelled out, wont be able to come in until tomorrow, they are not real bush pilots it seems, and wont take chances on an in and out day. The real story we find out from Stan later is that they make mucho bucks flying tourists from the cruise ships around for a nhour, and a trip like our is a pain. They also lost several people on one of these flights off shore in a crash several days after we left on our trip and are being extra cautious anticipating litigation. Stan has good news, there is another bush pilot group from Yakutat who can fly us out with 2 planes, and they are poised and ready to come pick us up. A little more expensive, but we all want to get to Juneau. Mike gives the ok, and we wait another hour before the buzz of 2 planes greets our ears and we are in the presence of 2 real men, bush pilots of the first water. One older, smaller dark pony tailed dude who calls the shots, and a younger big brush cut muscle man, both with the quiet competent air of brain surgeons of the alaskan airways. We have to split up, with mike, donna, steve with his internal bleeding adn fire girl, and of course AL on the first plane out with minimum gear. Sam and theothers and i help load Stan's gear into the other plane, cramming 2 rafts, frames coolers, shitter, kitchen kit, tarp etc into the little 6-seater (after removing the seats). The muscle dude then takes the longest taxi I ve ever seen about 1/2 mile and lumbers up into the gathering clouds, headed for Haines. The rest of us are left to wait, the drizzle starts again and we end up in the airport shed sitting on various chairs and seats with a tangle of alaskan junk lying around. We watch as the quad motorcycles zoom baack and forth to the packing plant with boxes filled with gorgeous salmon, 20-30 lbs from the gill-netting operations happening. There are about 20 people working and they are hauling in mega fish. We pass off our extra food to one family working the fish net operation, less to pack out. At long last, the lone airplane returns from Haines, the other pilot had to do a fish flight, flying the salmon out in DC 3s so they can be presented fresh to the populace of the lower 48. We take a minimum of stuff, and sam and bill and the kids decide to stay and wait for the next plane. We have to hurry, says the pilot, he cant fly passengers after dark, and we have just enough time to reach Juneau. I sit in the copilot seat and follow on the air navigation map as we fly down the coast, with Glacier National Park on the left, with huge glaciers comeing down the valleys and moraines fresh as a daisy. We watch as 2 griz frolic on the beach, our first sighting. We drone through a fantastic landscape, each ridge a different view of mountains, glaciers and fjiords. Finally turning inland, we start spotting lights and cruise ships plying the passages. Juneau shows up in the distance with strobe lights on the landing strip. We land easily and soon enter a world of high activity, walking through the terminal with our river bags, to the motel shuttle, and finally to a great dinner of halibut fish and chips and Alaskan ale, and a real bed, real sheets, and real rest. The rest is a blur, more hard rain the next morning, and the flight out to Seattle, finding Nendels and reuniting with Kate there. Then a day in Seattle, out to port Townsend for a mega meal bot at the Seattle Pike street market, then driving south to Mt ST helens for a volcanic interlude, then the run home and familiar sights all over. We were all glad to have done the trip, some more glad than others. I dont think al will ever go on a nother river trip, I hope he doesnt for thte sake of the others involved. Sam summed it up succintly by saying "The best thing about doing the TAT is that we have done it, and dont have to do it again!" It was a great experience. Mike and Donna knocked us all out with the food and organization. this was a great gift to me, as I am the one who usually does that, and for one time, I was along for the ride, and could really enjoy myself.71900

Day 11 Layover at Gateway Knob

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