Alaska & Canada
Only the ghosts of glaciers remain in most of the American countryside. Their mythology is told by the contours of the land—a rounded mountain here, a U-shaped valley there, terrestrial shapes haunted by the specters of ancient ice. But where the Alsek River flows through the Yukon, British Columbia, and southeast Alaska, glaciers are still very much alive. They are enormous, slow-growing and shrinking creatures; you can hear them bowing and creaking, shuddering, violently ratcheting, every sound magnified in the huge emptiness of the far north. Both the Alsek and Tatshenshini rivers belong to this northern landscape, so formidable and unfamiliar it is almost dreamlike—a strange, cartoonish dream that occurs right as you enter sleep, where everything is large enough to alter your very perception of distance. It is a landscape of an altogether different scale and character. It is a landscape of water and ice in myriad forms, where the cold, clear air and luminous northern light grant extraordinary clarity to the edges of everything.
As a geologic force, the rivers here cannot be disentangled from the glaciers themselves. They are just another manifestation of ice, coursing through the earthly debris left behind by other, older ice. A trip down the upper Alsek or its tributary the Tatshenshini will take you through the various stages of a glacier’s life, from immense, frozen monolith to milky, silt-filled meltwater. The Alsek’s braided channels are fed by the glaciers of the Icefield Range, which reach down from the mountains into the expansive valley like fingers, a tributary of meltwater extending from each fingertip. They are relics from another version of the earth rendered in ice and silence, situating travelers in this landscape in a liminal timespace somewhere between the last Ice Age and the familiar, temperate present. Because the glaciers of the Icefield Range constitute the largest non-polar ice cap on the planet, the landscape is also something of a spatial hybrid, containing elements of both the boreal and arctic worlds. Riverbanks swathed in Alaskan wildflowers border some stretches of water, but around the bend, the fuchsia blooms of river beauty and spatter of Indian paintbrush are swapped for discordant gravel and ice; new springtime life pressing up against something older, something less sentient. We usually move forward through the days, months, and years in a linear fashion, but boaters borne along by the currents of water on this land will instead find themselves suspended, time circulating around them, from the Pleistocene to the present and back again.
(Excerpt from Silver and Stone: Glaciers of Alsek Country, Dove Henry)
Immerse yourself into...
The experience of Alaskan glacial landscapes is truly mind-blowing, with billions of years of geologic and geographic history unfolding before your eyes. The striking blue-gray water,the massive glacial peaks, the delicate wildflowers and greenery, impressive wildlife, rich history, and a glance into one of the most powerful acts of US conservation efforts- this place has it all. By accessing the heart of this National Park by raft, (or a portion by helicopter on the Alsek) you will see perspectives and regions that are completely inaccessible otherwise. No place in the lower 48 can compare to this glacial mecca.
A true wilderness expedition
With 11-12 days in some of the most remote wilderness regions on this side of the hemisphere, you will get a taste of what true wilderness immersion feels like. Wilderness River Outfitters is founded upon a philosophy of minimalism, leave no trace, and full participation to truly get a sense of what the spirit of adventure and wilderness means for our guests, and our Alaska expeditions are the quintessential example of what our company strives to achieve. Our Alaska trips are about as wild as you can get, and are a can’t miss opportunity for those with an adventurous spirit looking to get away from the stresses and realities of everyday life.