Kayaking Glacier Bay Nat’l Park, AK – Part 2

Day 2

Ptarmigan to Vista Point – 11 miles, 4 hours with break

For our full itinerary and a map of our route see Part 1.

We have another longer day, conditions permitting, up the Tarr Inlet to where we plan to camp at Vista Point across from Margerie Glacier.

Campsite at Ptarmigan

It’s a pretty morning, only a few drops of rain. We have breakfast on the shore where humpback whales make a few appearances as well as patches of blue sky. High tide this morning was only slightly above the previous day as predicted therefore no problems with the placement of the tent and kayak. Low tide is again after lunch so we’ll hang out here enjoying the warmth of the tent before heading for Tarr Inlet.

Just before lunch it looks like rain down Tarr Inlet. We finish up quickly and pack up before the rain moves in our direction. Out on the water at noon it never does rain, not even a drip, just overcast with threatening clouds but calm waters.

The paddling is easy except for the crossing over to the Tarr Inlet and even that was relatively gentle. During the crossing a humpback whale amused us with repeated spouting and surfacing.

Tarr Inlet

Up the Tarr Inlet the waters were calm and barely moving. On one side is a steep rock face with small stands of deciduous trees (alder’s) and myriad waterfalls from the snow melt. The distant other side has more snow.

It’s not until halfway up the inlet that there is a suitable place to stop. We make it here in about 2 and quarter hours. Continuing on there’s more beach on our side and not as many harbor seals as the day before, but a few. We see only 2 boats, a small sail boat in the distance and a private cruiser.

Nearing the back side of Vista Point we encounter a mine field of small icebergs intricately melting, each unique like snowflakes. The water is so calm they reflect their mirror image in the water.

Margerie Glacier

In the distance we see blue sky above the mountains. I paddle faster not wanting to miss a chance to see the inlet bathed in sunlight. It seems to take forever to reach Vista Point and round the corner but when we do it’s pure magic. The day before in the rain on the day boat we saw none of the mountains above the glaciers, only the impressive Margerie Glacier with low clouds hanging above her. However, what makes this spot stunning is the setting. The panoramic view starts with the peaks above the Margerie Glacier and around to the Grand Pacific Glacier looking into Canada. Continuing down the shore towards us is a row of steep snow-capped peaks.

We paddle towards Margerie but not too close as she can calve at any moment creating a kayak rocking tsunami.

Campsite at Vista Point

As the afternoon passed the sky continued to clear. After yesterday we didn’t believe sunshine was possible. Better yet there was not another boat or person in sight, just Don and me in this incredible landscape. We decided to make camp at Vista Point with sweeping views across the inlet. The beach is rocky and somewhat difficult to manage, but it was glorious to have an afternoon of sunshine and to dry everything out. The far left side (northeast) of the beach stayed sun lit until 8 p.m. We had gin and dinner in this spot, away from the tent, taking in the magical views.

For links to all the posts in this series see the Alaska page.

June 1, 2021

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