Glacier Bay Backpacking

Alaska’s Lost Coast

The land of ice and mist, Alaska’s Lost Coast is beyond comprehension in terms of scale, but must be seen to truly get a feel for its rugged beauty. There are hundreds of miles of remote coast comprised of endless beaches, coastal temperate rain forest and ice plummeting from glaciers to the sea.  Be one of the few people to visit the Lost Coast of Alaska. (we won’t let you get lost).

Dates

 May 1-September 31

Location

Glacier Bay National Park

Cost

$3600 per person

Details

Alaska’s Lost Coast is comprised of extensive sand and gravel beaches stretching for hundreds of miles and is nearly completely uninhabited.  The sand is littered with rocks and boulders left by glaciers as they retreated back into the mountains over the course of thousands of years. The skeletons of huge trees plucked from the coast by the giant storms which pummel this area throughout the winter are brought ashore by large surf and tides, creating a maze for us to navigate.

Moving inland we go from the sandy and rocky beaches to tidal flats covered in tall beach grasses and finally into the coastal temperate rainforest which lines the entire southern coast of Alaska.  The forest floor covered in lush green moss, devil’s club and a myriad of other small plants.  Huge spruce, hemlocks and cedars stand tall and the forest floor is covered with their predecessors leaning or lying on the ground in various stages of decay.  Enormous boulders left by retreating glaciers are interspersed amongst these giants at times giving the great trees anchor against the brutal winter storms.

After weaving your way through the forest using paths established by wolves, bears and moose you will finally start to ascend out of the forest and into the mountains of the Fairweather Range.  The fingers of smaller glaciers, La Perouse, Finger and Crillon, flow through valleys they have carved and around mountains originating at the great Brady Glacier and eventually flowing to their terminus and the sea in the form of water.

From the start of our trip at La Perouse Glacier to the end at Lituya Bay, there is only about 20 miles of coastline, but a lifetime of exploring can be done in this area.  We have 7 days to spend exploring the glaciers, forests and mountains and we can choose to break up our week with travel days as we move toward our pick up point or rest days leaving camp set up and venturing out on day hikes unencumbered by our packs.

While this section of Alaska’s Lost Coast is truly mesmerizing any time of the spring and summer, we prefer to see it between late April and late July in hopes of missing out on any of the large storms which blanket this coast through out the year.

Wildlife on this coast is abundant and while we never guarantee that we will see any particular species the likelihood is great.  Large populations of coastal brown bears, wolves, and moose reside here as well as many other species.  In the spring this area also sees huge numbers of migrating birds which number in the hundreds of thousands as they make their way back north to Alaska.

We will fill our days with hiking and beach combing, day hiking up into the forests and on to the ice of flowing glaciers.  If we are feeling the work we can take days to simply enjoy camp and have a fire on the beach or maybe watch for that brown bear we all want to see, at a distance of course.

No matter what we choose to do each day your guide is there to help you discover your own personal connection to this wilderness, whether through education, as a leader or just to give you peace of mind. While hiking on the coast is quite comfortable, this is Alaska, and there are no trails other than bear trails so be prepared for challenges.

Itinerary

Day 1

Meet with your guide for a pre- trip meeting in Haines.

Day 2

Meeting in the morning with gear ready to go, we head out to meet our pilot and step aboard a bush plane to start our expedition.  Flying along rugged coast, over glaciers and jagged peaks ,keep a keen eye out for mountain goats and grizzlies as we come in low to eye our landing spot near La Perouse.  From our first campsite you can listen to crashing surf and smell the sea while gazing at a jagged mountain skyline covered in ice.

Day 3

The La Perouse glacier flows to the sea across this vast expanse of beach which makes it relatively easy to gain access to it.  We spend this day exploring the glacier’s surface and venturing inland toward the mountains and it source.  At some point we can stop upon this huge river of slowly moving ice and looking north we see the towering mountains at the heart of Glacier Bay National Park and to our south the great Gulf of Alaska.

Day 4

This morning we finish our breakfast and break camp, put on our packs and start picking our way along the beach.  The hiking is very pleasant on the firm sand of the beach. Occasionally we have creeks to cross and we will surely feel how recently the water was ice as it passes over our feet and hands.  Through out the day we will wander from the sand to the upper beach through the grass eventually finding our camp for the night above the high tide line safe from the crashing surf.

Day 5

On day 4 of our expedition we can hike inland to Crillon Lake, following game trails, always keeping an eye out for bears, or wolves which are plentiful in these parts. Making our way through this old growth temperate rain forest made up of mainly large coniferous species with lush green under growth of moss and devil’s club, it is a change from the easy hiking of the beach.  Reaching the lake and the canyon that surrounds it we will be glad we put in the work and reaped the rewards of laying eyes on this beautiful glacial lake.

Day 6

Off we go again in the morning, along the sandy shoreline hopping over huge downed trees made high and dry by the huge storms that pummel this coast in the winter.  Do not forget to keep your eyes open for treasures from around the word wash up on these shores through out the seasons.

Day 7

Today our goal is to reach our pick up point near Lituya Bay which was the site of a landslide-caused tsunami estimated at 100 feet tall which caused destruction over 1700 feet up the mountain side.  We can get camp set up and go for another day hike, hopefully able to get a glimpse of that destruction still today.

Day 8

With any luck our we will hear the engine of our plane coming in to land on the beach around mid day.  Load up, sit back and enjoy another truly amazing flight through Glacier Bay National Park and back to Haines and a well deserved shower.

Included

Food while in the field

Group Camping gear

Stoves, water filter, eating utensils

professional guide service

Not Included

Lodging while not in the field

Food while not in the field

Personal camping gear

Tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads

Gratuity for guide(s)

Rental gear is available from SEAK Expeditions but is in limited supply