There are a few important things we’ve learned when playing around outside in Valdez. First, always lather your skin with bug spray. The mosquitoes are horrendous and annoying. They fly in schools, patches, or units of 30 or more and attack any revealing skin in seconds. Hands, face, legs, feet, everything, will be itchy for weeks. Second, always bring reliable rain gear. This includes a raincoat, rain pants, and sturdy rain boots. In Valdez, the weather can change instantly and if you are not prepared, prepare to be soaked and cold. Third, always bring an extra pair of socks and set of clothes when going on outdoor adventures (i.e. hikes, climbing, kayaking, etc.). If it does rain and/or you have to cross a glacier creek that is knee-deep high, extra clothing and socks will keep you happy and warm. At least, this is what we’ve learned in Valdez and even experienced on our 20-mile hike (round trip) to Shoup Bay Glacier this weekend.We decided on Thursday night that we would hike out and camp around Shoup Bay Glacier. Ethan, our new friend, Shane, and I packed our camping gear, raincoats, food, starter wood, and bug spray for the 20-mile hike. We began the 10-mile hike in on Saturday around 4PM. The hike started off easy with wooden planks to walk across and nice meadow-like terrain to meander through. For the most part, the Shoup Bay trail skirts the hillside along the Valdez arm of the Prince William Sound, before climbing up and over Shoup Pass. From the pass, views of Shoup Glacier and Shoup Bay awaited far below.
After a long day, we were all looking forward to settling in, building a big fire, and making some dinner. Before we were allowed to get cozy, however, we were greeted by a steep descent. Our rain boots were necessary for the shin deep mud we slogged though, but also did a number on our feet after 10 miles in steep terrain. Almost there, and in the alder thickets along a stream, we were greeted by a washed-out trail. Not in the mood to search for a better crossing or hack our way through tangled brush, we charged through an icy, thigh-deep (Robyn’s) stream and continued on. Unfortunately, for our wet clothes and cold bodies, there was hardly any firewood to be found.
We spent the night on a gravel bar, overlooking a tidal stream that drained the terminal lagoon of the glacier into the bay. It was an incredible scene. In the morning, we walked up stream for some views of the glacier and found some driftwood for a fire to dry our things. As we sat, ice chunks from the glacier drifted by and ground away at the streambed, while Seagulls and Arctic Terns flew to and from. It began to drizzle on the way out and didn’t stop even after we made it back to Trixie. We climbed into the clouds on Shoup Pass before eventually descending out of them. We broke in old growth spruce stands for shelter, ate salmon berries along the way, and finally returned home at 7PM. Nothing sounded better than a big meal, ice cream smeared with Nutella and Peanut Butter (Shane’s idea), and a fire in the old woodstove.