Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Turnback Canyon.

The sun tried to rise through the thick clouds and fog that surrounded us as we awoke adjacent of the Tweedsmuir glacier. It was a dark, dreary morning and the reality of our situation began to set in. we were in the middle of nowhere. we all decided without a doubt that this is the most remote, desolate ground we had ever walked on. And we planned on plunging into a committing class five canyon in this place! We all had thoughts of home that morning, we thought of our family, freinds, loved ones and the real life we left to pursue these canyons. It can be a constant battle dealing with these thoughts, especialy when you are choosing to risk a dangerous river.
At the arrival and initial scout of turnback two members of our party decided to portage. The decision was a dificult to swallow for everyone, but the decision was made and I/we supported it, even though that meant leaving two friends to fend for themselves on an arduous portage and going two men short into turnback.

Looking into the entry of turnback gorge

Looking upstream at the alsek before the six mile constriction created by the tweedsmuir glacier, known as Turnback Canyon.

Saying goodbye to Andy and Dave was a somber moment that would haunt us for two days untill we saw them again. With the group splitting one crew will chance turnback canyon, while the other two will portage 70 pound kayaks across dangerous glacial merange 6 miles.

As we set into Turnback it turned into a completely different river. The river became tight and unnatural, it felt like paddling a river in complete flood. the boils and eddys surging sometimes five to six feet pounded into the walls of the inecscapable rapids. We did not scout as much as we should have, consequently we do not have many photos. And like always we did not take pictures of the biggest rapids.
In this photo you can see the power of the river as Max Bechdel unintentionaly performs a mystery move in a very benign looking feature as he is entering a big rapid. He is paddling a LiquidLogic Gus and he is usualy floating quite high in the water. look for his head on the middle left side of the picture

While we charged through the canyon, Dave and Andy were in an adventure of their own. since the glacier has resceeded it has left loose rock and a very dramatic landscape that was rarely flat. We named this area to Morodor from the movie "Lord of The Rings."

Andy and Dave continued to portage untill nightfall and sore muscles set in. They were so tired they literaly set camp within 50 yards of seeing a curious bear.
Nice Camp Eh.

We sat in wait at our camp below turnback hoping/waiting for them to show up. we waited for two full days, while writing messages in the sand and setting up rocks to lead them back.
here was our camp.

once reunited we had a hundred miles left to paddle out and we paddled through more of the amazing St. Elias Mountain Range.

Eventualy we literaly paddled into the ocean at Dry bay and had to portage back upstream to the airstrip. At this point we were all very tired and worn out, physicaly and mentaly.


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