Ford's Terror is named after the naval crew member who, in 1889, rowed a dinghy into the narrow entrance of the fjord at slack tide. The tide began to rise, forcing its way through the bottleneck entrance into the fjord, and Ford was trapped in the turbulent currents for the next "terrifying" six hours. We will camp above that entrance, where we can fully appreciate Ford's terror, but for us, equipped with tide tables and forewarned of the danger, the experience is more one of wonder. We begin our expedition with a dramatic sea plane flight or boat ride from Juneau, which leaves us at our campsite within the sheer walls of Ford's Terror.
After assembling our kayaks and learning and practicing safety and basic skills, we spend two days exploring the fjord and the valleys at its head by foot and kayak, observing brown bear tracks and the sheer cliffs and cascading waterfalls. This night we camp at a wonderful site at the narrow entrance of the fjord. Here we watch the turbulent iceberg-laden current change direction every six hours while we imagine the "terror" that Ford experienced a century ago. We anticipate the possibility of a black or brown bear sighting on the opposite side of the channel while we eat a wonderful dinner. We also take a short hike through our first glimpses of old growth temperate rain forest and we view lily-covered mirror ponds.
As we enter Endicott Arm we begin our paddle within the realm of ice and marine life. Here we experience first hand the majesty of paddling by these incredible blue and white natural ice sculptures. If we have chosen an active 7-day trip, we have the option of paddling up the arm to view the source of all the icebergs, the Dawes glacier, where we can drift among the ice as more bergs calve noisily from its looming terminus. As we paddle out Endicott Arm we may encounter a pod of orcas or a humpback whale. We can also anticipate seeing harbor porpoises and seals as we paddle along the forested fjord and explore the rocky shoreline and marine environment until we arrive at a beautiful unnamed salmon river.
Depending upon the time of summer we can witness first hand the stunning and mysterious "running of the salmon." We walk out into the river and watch as hundreds of chum salmon swim furiously in all directions, including between our submerged feet. Here we see the evidence of bear habitat with claw marks on trees and half eaten salmon carcasses spread about for the bald eagles and ravens to feast upon. We also may hike up the river or explore the intricacies of a Sitka spruce-western hemlock old growth rain forest. Depending upon the length of the trip we will be picked up at this spot or continue on to a further site.
If we continue on we may cross Endicott Arm, exploring the Bushy Islands along the way, to an old mining claim where we can see pilings and rusted mining equipment. We will walk up a fascinating creek to a superb swimming hole. From here we will paddle back through the Bushy Islands to our pick-up at the outwash stream of Sumdum Glacier. Here we're afforded wonderful looks into the rain forest and, for the first time, muskeg peat bog. This trip is special and different from others in the relationships we witness between glacial activity and influence and the rich diversity of an old growth forest.
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