Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go.

Robert Service — The Call of the Wild
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Day 13 - Hike to Glacier

Tuesday, July 24, 2012.

Woke at 7:30am to low clouds and overcast skies. We fixed a quick breakfast, cleaned up, geared up and headed out to the glacier. The first trial, of course, is crossing the glacial stream east of camp. We made multiple crossings in our wading shoes in order to carry over our packs, staffs and the shotgun. From there we climbed up a talus slide and into a small but thick sand of alpine fir that had grizzly habitat written all over it. Much sign, but again, nothing fresh.
The trees gradually opened out into a huge boulder field. About that time it began to rain, so we stopped and everyone got out their raingear. Walking across wet boulders with half-full packs is slippery, tiring work. Ascending, we had to cross the creek several times. Eventually we reached the vertical cascade and climbed up the right side of it and into the basin and lake at the foot of the glacier. We had been hiking about two hours at this point.
Exhausted from the steep and slippery climb, we ate lunch in the rain. After lunch we decided that Phil and Bill would stay with the gear while Steve & Sandy would push on up to the glacier proper. It appears to Steve that this glacier has receded about 200 meters up the slope from 2007. Sandy thought it was less than a football field (100 meters) though. The massive scale of the country makes estimates of size, elevation and distance difficult. As Steve and Sandy began their hike around the lake and up the slope to the glacier they turned into tiny yellow and green dots.
And it soon became apparent to Phil and I that it was "a lot further than it looks" up to the glacier. And a lot steeper. We watched them traverse across steep, wet slopes and cross raging side streams all the way up. From our point of view it looked pretty dangerous. In reality, they later told us, they didn't ever feel especially exposed or threatened by the topography. They made it up and back in about two hours with some fantastic tales and souvenirs. On the way down, they spotted and photographed what they thought was a lone white-tail ptarmigan. Only after we had returned to Yellowknife and were viewing our photographs on a computer screen did they realize they had actually photographed two birds.
It had stopped raining by the time they made it back down to our lunch spot at the basin lake. After another snack we packed up and headed back down the valley. It began raining again on the way down, so out came the raingear once again. Naturally, going down-hill over wet, slippery rocks was even more dicey than going up, since now you have gravity working against you. It was a fairly quick but tiring descent and we were back in camp by 4:30pm. Today's Snacky-treat are more giant dates; a very fitting reward for a hard day's work.
For dinner we had all been saving the giant Bare Burrito meal. This is a fine and high-calorie meal that was very fitting for our last dinner at Emerald Lake. That evening we had a last campfire and toasted Phil's climb to the glacier and our last night at Keele Peak and Emerald Lake. Last night we believed we had extra scotch. However, tonight it appears we have run out. Not sure how that could happen. Fortunately, we still have a little Bacardi 151. In bed by 11:45pm and it's still light enough to read, inside, without a headlamp.
20120724_GlacierStreamCrossing.jpg
Crossing the glacial stream was a leg-numbing experience.
photographer: Bill Moore
20120724_LunchAtGlacierLake.jpg
Steve and Sandy carb-loading in preparation for the climb to the glacier. Keele peak rises in the background.
photographer: Bill Moore
20120724_SandyUnderGlacier.jpg
Sandy under the glacier
photographer: Steve Moore
20120724_SteveInsideGlacier.jpg
Steve inside the glacier
photographer: Sandra Moore
20120724_ViewFromGlacier.jpg
View from the foot of the glacier, back down towards the basin lakes, Emerald Lake and the Hess river valley
photographer: Sandra Moore
20120724_2WhiteTailPtarmiga.jpg
Two white tailed ptarmigan. When Sandy took the photo, both she and Steve only saw one of the birds.
photographer: Sandra Moore
20120724_SunsetMcKenzieMtns.jpg
Evening sunset across Emerald Lake and the Hess river valley
photographer: Phil Taylor

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