I woke up Sunday morning nervous and antsy.. checked the weather, clear and 15 below.
Today was the planned crossing the Knik arm. We had a solid group Roman, Thai, Gordy, Tony, Erin and Hig - with good experience, but really noone in the world is experienced in ice packed, severly tidal effected, winter channel packraft crossings. End of story.
So with every intent to just walk away I packed layers and layers of clothes, my raft, drysuit and emergency gear. Tony met me at my house at noon and we walked to snow city cafe to have breakfast. Tony mentioned that no where else can you walk around a downtown area wearing a drysuit, boots, with paddles, ice axes, in February with sub sero temps and not get stared at. Anchorage is cool like that..
Eventually we started headding down to the Ship Creek boat launch and got geared up. Our first encounter with the authorities was the Railroad police, who then relayed our "insane" plan to the fire dept and the rest of the APD. Cold windy spot, we all got geared up and into the water. It was quite a sureal experience. The Knik arm is something you look at just about every day living in Anchorage but now we were out in it, in the winter, with the ice, with the tides.. did I mention with the Ice?
Hig having a nice chat:
The put in: (photo by Entonces)
an open lead in the ice:
It quickly became apparent that we were not going to be able to get out very far, the ice was weak and our plan of half walking, half rafting was quickly put to rest. We found and pushed our way up several leads along the shore before re-grouping and pulling out to give things another look..
Erin and Hig Scouting for open leads:
Looking around we began to just kinda come to the conclustion that we were't going anywhere and that the worst case senario - being stuck in the ice in the middle of knik arm for the night at sub zero temps, wasnt an option. So we relaxed a bit and tried to look for Gordy who was out chasing the tug boats - literally!
Pushing off again we got on one of the larger ice floes and pulled out. Pretty sureal being on an ice berg, everything changes so fast around you and perception of motion is quite difficuilt. Thai got out his ice tool to test the thickness and we all freaked a bit when it went right through at about 1" thick - pheww!
On the ice:
the alpacka not-so-ice breaking packraft:
After being packed in again we eventually made it back to shore, where we were greated by Port of Anchorage Police...
Back on Solid ground, breaching national security at the port of Anchorage:
Erin and some nice evening light on the arm:
Calling it a day and walking back to Town:
Roman and Gordy finishing it off:
A Great adventure a mile from the city!