Fly in from Yakutat, AK, to a landing zone on the beach near Fountain Stream. Set up camp, and then we might hike up Grand Wash a ways and check out some of the terrain in that area.
The coastal hiking is mostly pretty mild, walking on either soft sand or small rocks of the gravel shore. We can venture inland at times and walk through magnificent old growth Sitka Spruce forest, shadowing the footsteps of the great Grizzly bear on these incredible maze of bear trails; individual foot prints embedded deep in the moss illustrate centuries of journeys by Old Man Grizzly along the coast here.
We’ll use packrafts (provided for you) to cross the few rivers and streams on the trip. Easy paddling, fine for novices. Packrafts are also a good way to explore further inland, bushwhacking north away from the coast and then paddling any of various streams back toward the coastline.
Further west we’ll explore Sitka lagoon, and paddle over to the edge of Malaspina Glacier, and have a look at the forest growing on top of the ice there. Amazing, unique ecology and geology.
Campfires along the beach are awesome. Sit by the fire after supper and watch the waves roll in, listening to the sounds of the surf. The myriad calls of migratory birds in the forest accompany the coastal tune.
Sitka bluffs (now mostly Sitka boulders after centuries of erosive pounding from the Pacific Ocean) are really the only challenging hiking en route. They’re also the best place to get a good view of the Stellar’s Sea lions here, as the sea lions haul out on rocky outcrops near here. Their barking and banter is always fun to hear.
Keep heading west and we’ll get to our pickup location near Fountain Stream. If we arrive here early, it’s a good place to make a day hike up toward the glacier, and packraft back down the stream to the coast. The air taxi will pick us up on the beach and we fly back to Yakutat.
How long will this trek take?
Point to Point, hiking solidly the whole way, 4-5 days or so. Optimally? I’d suggest 5-8 days.
What might we encounter?
Rivers. Glaciers, ice, grizzly bears, Stellar’s Sea Lions. Mt. St. Elias. Malaspina Glacier. Beaches and shoreline.
How many people visit this area?
In 2014, excluding guided hunters and fishing trips, the entire district for this area (150 miles long) had a sum total of 2 people backpack and/or raft it; yes, only two (2) people! Chuck and myself in early June!
Do we need any special gear?
We’ll bring packrafts (provided for you) for the river crossings. Also some small dry bags for your gear. Mostly we’ll just paddle across the rivers and streams, so we won’t be running anything too rigorous. Perfect for novice paddlers. Good rain gear. Bugspray and headnets. Other than that, standard backpacking gear (maybe trail shoes rather than boots).
How tough is this trek?
Not. Some people might struggle on the boulder field. But there’s really no elevation gain to speak of, some bushwhacking though. We may do a little bushwhacking, but nothing terribly challenging. The packrafting is mild, pretty easy, great for beginners.
This is a good trek for someone with less experience, but an adventurous spirit and a willingness for a really wild and unique trip.
What about packrafting gear?
Expeditions Alaska will outfit your packrafting trip. That includes packraft, spray skirt and boat deck, dry suit or splash wear (trip dependent), neoprene paddling gloves and booties. Whitewater trips include helmets. All paddlers are provided with an approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device).
Dry bags are included for you as well.
Your guide will also carry a tow strap, throw bag and line, plus the usual backcountry safety equipment of sat phones, first aid kits, etc.
If you have your own equipment, you’re welcome to use that instead. Let’s talk about it first and make sure your rig is appropriate for this trip.
I Have More Questions
I know you do. I do as well.
I recommend starting with the General Trip FAQ page
Upon your reservation I’ll also send out a comprehensive trip information packet that covers just about everything and more you might imagine about your trip.
Rocked My World!!! Expeditions Alaska Aurora Tour
Northern lights have been in my bucket list for a while. I wanted to go, kept waiting for my friends to go with me….finally I found Expeditions Alaska, I called and Carl answered the phone, answered all my questions and I did not wait any more, and booked the trip. A small group, lots of […]From: Anaheim, CaliforniaNumber of Trips: 1
Written on April 17th, 2019
That was incredible.
Greatest adventure of my life. Our guide Jules was very professional, informative and helpful. Recommended using their services to explore the wild side of Alaska.From: Boise, IDNumber of Trips: 1
Written on November 3rd, 2017
I highly recommend Expeditions Alaska …
My wife and I did the Seven Pass Route Trek from Bremner mines to Iceberg Lake with Carl’s Expeditions Alaska in August 2017. From day 1, I felt that things were done very professionally. A trip like this needs a lot of inputs and teamwork from the guides and the participants for it to be […]From: OhioNumber of Trips: 1
Written on November 3rd, 2017
Exceeded expectations. So much fun.
Exceeded expectations. So much fun. Rhane was amazing. The most well read and well educated young man we have ever had as a guide. He knew everything from Alaska history, to glacier science,to astronomy, to South American adventures, to rock climbing, geology, grizzly bears and black bears, sea otters, sea lions, mountain goats, kayaking techniques, […]From: Wrangell - St. Elias National ParkNumber of Trips: 2 trips
Written on November 3rd, 2017
Incredible wilderness experience: scenery, solitude, wildlife …
Carl was a lot of fun to adventure with! I had an extraordinary experience in ANWR with Expeditions Alaska. The guides were experienced, flexible, and tried to ensure that each guest enjoyed the trip. The group size was small and intimate. Wishing I could go back now!!From: Plover, WINumber of Trips: 1
Written on July 30th, 2017
Friendly, knowledgeable, hard working …
The Canning River trip was everything we expected. We are 60 years old and had a great time. Good equipment, good organization by Carl and Jule. Enjoyed spending 11 days in a very special environment with friendly, hard working, knowledgeable guides.From: Indianapolis, INNumber of Trips: 1
Written on July 30th, 2017
Awesome trip …
My wife and I just completed a two week trip with Carl In June 2017. One week of kayaking at Icy Bay, “ice-breaking” in our kayaks, moose, wolverine, seal and sea lion watching, glacier calving, good conversation around the camp stove, all at the foot of Mt St Elias. A second week, exploring the tundra […]From: Rochester MNNumber of Trips: 2
Written on July 14th, 2017
Carl knows his stuff
I did the Aurora trip with Carl in March 2017, and I had an excellent experience and came away with some shots that I was really happy with. We were lucky and were able to see the Aurora every night of the 6-night trip. And while luck played a part, I know that Carl’s careful […]From: Houston, TXNumber of Trips: 1
Written on June 3rd, 2017
A wonderful guide and teacher
I’m just back from the bald eagles November photo trip with Carl and it was amazing. Thousands of eagles right here, posing for the camera, in the charming and quiet town of Haines. Carl was a wonderful guide and photography teacher. I learnt a lot about eagles, Alaska, and photography, notably improving my skills and […]From: NYCNumber of Trips: 1
Written on December 7th, 2016
The Lost Coast
The coastline here is a long stretch of shore that parallels the terminus of the Malaspina Glacier. One could possibly suggest it IS the terminus of the glacier.
The terrain is mixture of temperate forest and more open brush lands. At times we’ll hike on sandy beaches and at times we’ll hike on boulder fields. Boulders are synonymous with glacial terminus. Moraines become boulder fields. Some of the hiking is on ancient bear trails through the forest.
Mt. St. Elias
Sovereign of the park. Mt. St. Elias towers over 18 000′ right from sea level. It’s definitely a sight to behold and one of the grand mountains of the world.
Best views of the mountain are found out on the glacier or the lagoon. We’ll get some vantages points along the shoreline but trees and brush often obscure us.
This area is a great intro to packrafting location. The waterways are not turbulent. Even the larger streams here are Class I water. Packrafts allow us to cross the rivers safer and easily.
They also allow us to more easily explore inland a little further. We’ll hike up toward the lagoon and poke around there a while. When we’re done there we choose one of a number of streams to float us back to the beach to continue our hike.
Where Are We?
Trip Options & Extensions
One option is to hike to Malaspina Glacier and then use the packrafts to paddle west, covering the first leg of the trip. Then we’ll come back to the coast 10 miles west of here.
Looking for a longer trip? One option is to add this hike to the Malaspina Glacier Traverse. We can easily make this a 2 week trek, and even add in a food drop/cache so we don’t have to carry all the food from Day One.
We can also spend a couple of days up at Malaspina Lagoon, paddling and exploring before making our way back down to the coastline.
Who's It For?
Those folks looking for a real getaway, without the challenge of rigorous mountain trek. Off trail hiking in Alaska can be tough, and this trip offers a great way to find some real wilderness, solitude and adventure without all the adversity of mountain terrains.
Are you looking for something different? This trip is a gem, yet very, very few people ever visit the area. You’ll be VERY unlikely to run across anyone here.
Few folks from outside Alaska have experience with packrafts, and the Lost Coast trip offers a great introduction to this type of adventure.
We’ll depart out of Yakutat, AK (you can fly there via Alaska Airlines). We take a short air taxi ride across Disenchantment Bay to The Lost Coast, unload and begin the walk.
At the end of the hike, we’ll meet up with our pilot, load up and fly back to Yakutat. Either overnight there or catch an evening flight out to Anchorage or Juneau.