Kayaking Glacier Bay Nat’l Park, AK – Part 3

Day 3

Vista Point to Orange Point – 12.3 miles – 5.5 hours with break

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

Vista Point Campsite

With Marjerie Glacier moaning and calving throughout the night I forget to think about the bears and sleep better than the night before.

By morning the low hanging clouds and drizzle return. Who thought clear weather could last more than one afternoon? I was hopeful but not surprised that Glacier Bay returned to its rainy self.

The morning was quiet with just one early small cruise ship making the rounds.

Tarr Inlet

We packed up and left camp around 9, just after high tide. The waters were calm with a few small icebergs but nothing difficult to avoid. During the night at low tide small bergs littered our beach but were gone by morning.

Paddling down the west side of the inlet the way is strikingly beautiful even in the drizzle. Glacier carved cliffs of smooth stone green with new spring growth, yellow orange seaweed, black mussels anchoring the bottom with numerous waterfalls of melting snow cascade down the rock. The section near the entrance of the inlet is the most impressive. Here we see a bald eagle on a low rock.

We see the Park Service tour boat and one small sailboat but otherwise no other traffic. It’s quiet and calm with little wind. The rain so light no droplets are seen in the still water, more like being inside a cloud than drizzle.

Main Channel

Entering the main channel the waters become choppier and the visibility drops, the mountains across the channel barely visible. Rounding the corner across from Lamplugh Glacier visibility improves. We stop at a beach, only accessible near low tide, for lunch with views of Lamplugh across the channel.

Just as we are tying up the kayak a humpback whale surfaces just offshore in front of the kayak. An incredible if not scary sight as I notice him a bit later cruising off the rock face we had just kayaked past. This is also the area where we saw whales the day before, highlighting the importance of tapping on your kayak to let them know you are in the area. They don’t mean to harm you but can inadvertently topple your kayak if they don’t know you’re there.

We continue down this side of the channel into the first part of John Hopkins Inlet. Although it is off limits from May 1 to June 30 you can see down the inlet to the glacier from several campsites at the bend on Orange Point. From the last spot in the bend, however, the view is blocked by a rocky knob.

Orange Point Campsite

We find a campsite with views of Lamplugh in one direction and John Hopkins in the distance in the other. Although the day remains overcast, the drizzle has stopped and John Hopkins remains visible at the end of the inlet. At dinner sea otters play just off shore.

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

June 2, 2021

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