Prince William Sound May 2018

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by JohnAbercrombie, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    With my paddling companion I spent two weeks in Prince William Sound, Alaska in mid-May.
    After we returned to Victoria, I posted a few details in Denis Dwyer's thread:
    http://www.westcoastpaddler.com/community/threads/prince-william-sound-alaska.7297/#post-83355

    Before the trip I asked about charts for the area here:
    http://www.westcoastpaddler.com/community/threads/chart-options-for-alaska.8103/#post-88427

    It's a spectacular area and I highly recommend it as an addition to your "Possible Trips" list. The paddling opportunities are very extensive - you could spend a lot of time there and just be starting to see what the area offers.

    Visiting 'early in the season' , in May, meant that some campsites were still snow-covered.
    Balanced against that, we found no other paddlers, little boat traffic, no bugs and constant vistas of snow covered mountains.

    Even as a road trip without paddling, it would be worthwhile.
    mini-DSCN0112Glacier Point Tok cutoff Highway.JPG

    mini-DSCN0117Enroute Anbchorage.JPG

    mini-DSCN1174 Top of the world.JPG
     
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  2. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Trip planning and logistics are quite easy.

    There is good information - both printed (Paul Twardock and Denis Dwyer have both published paddling guides) and online (Jim Scherr's blog and trip reports here). The Douglass (Cave Art Press) charts or the National Geographic 'Trails Illustrated' charts are adequate for navigation. The kayak companies in Whittier and Valdez were helpful when we contacted them by phone.

    Anchorage is a couple of hours drive from our launch in Whittier, and has lots of possibilities for last-minute shopping and gear purchases. REI would be on most travellers' lists. Donalsons Marine Supplies was a good-priced (much better than B&J) source for Grundens raingear. I should have shopped there before my paddling trip, not after! :) The wet conditions gave me my final lesson in the difference between GoreTex and raingear!

    The drive to Whittier from Anchorage is extremely scenic and the 2.5 mile Whittier tunnel is the finale to that trip leg.

    mini-DSCN0131Whittier Tunnel..JPG

    Parking and launch arrangements in Whittier were straightforward. Lazy Otter Charters leases property near the ferry dock and provides paid parking and an excellent kayak launch just a few yards from the vehicle.

    mini-DSCN0302Whittier launch.JPG

    We left spare car keys with Lazy Otter and didn't worry about the vehicle at all. Lazy Otter also runs a very nice little coffee shop and souvenir store a couple of hundred yards from the kayak ramp.

    We left float plans with Lazy Otter and the harbourmaster office. Both were open 7 days a week- we returned on a Sunday.
     
  3. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    We didn't put a lot of miles behind us on this trip - that wasn't our plan from the start. The idea was to just soak up the scenery and camp out in a spectacular area for a while.

    First stop was Entry Cove, near the entrance to Passage Canal. Entry Cove is one of the 'standard stops' out of Whittier.
    mini-DSCN0996Passage Canal Day 1.JPG

    mini-DSCN0315Entry Cove.JPG
     
  4. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Next stop was Harrison Lagoon where we stayed in the USFS cabin. The tenting possibilities there looked to be very minimal even without snow cover.
    mini-DSCN0322Enroute Harrison Day 2.JPG

    mini-DSCN0324Harrison.JPG

    mini-DSCN1014Harrison.JPG

    The large tide range means that some areas may be OK for tent sites at lower tides. Big tides also put a premium on steep beaches that allow launching at lower tides without a muddy slog. Balanced against that, the very long daylight hours meant that we could time our departures without a lot of worries about reaching the next camp before dark.
     
  5. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    From Harrison we paddled up into Harriman Fiord, the 'highlight area' for the trip. We spent several days there, partly to get good conditions for glacier viewing, and partly just to soak in the spectacular conditions - snowy mountains and thundering glaciers rumbling in the distance.
    mini-DSCN0331Barry Arm entering Harriman.JPG
    mini-DSCN1033Enroute to Harriman.JPG

    mini-DSCN0380Harriman Fiord last morning.JPG
    mini-DSCN0381Harriman Fiord last morning.JPG
    mini-DSCN1075Surprise Glacier.JPG

    mini-DSCN0388Harriman Fiord last morning.JPG
     
  6. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    From Harriman we went on to another camp from Denis Dwyer's waypoint list: Pakenham Point. Leaving Harriman we passed Cascade, Barry and Coxe glaciers again....
    mini-DSCN0395Leaving Harriman Barry and Coxe Glaciers.JPG

    mini-DSCN0396Barry Arm.JPG
    mini-DSCN1096Pakenham Point.JPG

    From Pakenham there are excellent views of Port Wells and College Fiord.

    mini-DSCN1108Pakenham Point.JPG
     
  7. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    From Pakenham we crossed Port Wells and paddled down Esther Passage to East Flank Island - another excellent camp site, recommended by Jim Scherr.
    mini-DSCN1114Esther Passage.JPG

    mini-DSCN1116Esther Passage.JPG
    mini-DSCN1118East Flank Campsite.JPG

    mini-DSCN1120East Flank Campsite.JPG
     
  8. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    From East Flank we went to Eaglek Is. - another spot with great views in different directions.
    mini-DSCN1134Eaglek View.JPG
     
  9. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    From Eaglek we headed back toward Whittier, passing some boggy possible camps on Culross Is and Cochrane Bay.

    We camped at a site SE of Blackstone Point, on the 'outside' from Surprise Cove (Thanks to Jim Scherr for that waypoint which was welcome at the end of a 24 NM day!) . From there we had a good view of what the weather was doing, which was useful as we returned to Whittier in a 'window' between two windy weather patterns.

    mini-DSCN1169Surprise Cove Last night.JPG

    All in all it was a great trip which met all our objectives:
    We had the place to ourselves.
    No bugs
    Spectacular scenery
    No epics or 'adventures' !

    PS: Leave all your down gear at home - we did and were glad.
    PPS: Take good rain gear and make sure you can pitch and strike your tent in the rain without getting the inner tent wet. We had 'systems' worked out for both tents, but both of us had to go to 'backup rain gear'.
    PPS: The pyramid tarp tent for cooking and eating was excellent. We managed to keep the fresh water supply completely topped up with runoff from the tarp tent. :)
     
  10. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Here's our route:
    Track PWS trip.JPG
     
  11. Tangler

    Tangler Paddler

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    Hey John. Thanks for the great report.
    Sounds like a wonderful and challenging trip.
    One day maybe...
    (Nice looking boat). :)
     
  12. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Thanks! The Mariner Max is the perfect 'tool for the job' for a trip. I was surprised how quick it was, even when loaded. My paddling partner remarked on the difference in 'glide' between the two boats. Sometimes a wider boat (Max is 23.5" x 17') works better. :)