The days following our trip over Turnback Canyon moved along at a new pace. Relaxing. Once we made our date with the helicopter our schedule was much looser with the guides no longer feeling the pressure that the expensive ride in the big bird brought to the table. The first day we wound our way for three hours through unbroken mountains and glaciers on all sides. I’ve never seen so many glaciers in such a short stretch. While we were marveling at the topography, Rustin remarked quite simply, “It gets better. Just around the corner it gets better.” Ron and I just started laughing. Rustin has been telling us all trip that it will get better all the way down river. But how do you top this? We have been winding around gravel bars and sand spits as this big river separates into many different channels and passageways. They all merged as we rounded what Rustin termed Kodak Point. What a beautiful sight swept into view. Rugged jagged peaks intermixed with hanging glaciers and windswept snow fields then suddenly a view of the snout of Walker Glacier followed soon by icebergs and Walker Lake itself. It was absolutely stunning. OK Rustin, you are a prophet. We pulled the boats up to a sandy embankment next to a blue spring fed stream and clambered up to our camping area located just under the glacial ice. After setting up our tents we took a hike over to the lake for photos. Bear tracks in the soft ground added to our experience. We had traveled in sun all day and now hung out in cotton t-shirts. It was our best weather day yet. It was definitely scenery on steroids here.
Jimmy had found an extra sleeping pad for Ron and also patched my rain bibs with a waterproof sealing tape so no more wet butt for me. I had brought a bug jacket – Ron purchased one specially for this trip. We didn’t need either one as the breezes and cool weather kept those mosquitos at bay. Chili and cornbread with a little of our favorite drinks around the campfire highlighted our evening. Ron and Dan had glacier ice in their Jameson’s and Eric also found room for some in his glass of Chevas Regal.
Our days in the boat now are very short – just three to four hours. After the big drop at Turnback our weather has been warmer and the vegetation more lush. We are all very content in this routine but becoming more aware that we are short-timers on the Alsek now. Alsek Lake is just ahead and not far beyond it is Dry Bay and our take-out. It will feel a little surreal leaving our life here on the Alsek.