I didn’t take any pictures today and the pack rafting guide was supposed to dropbox me some pictures, which I never got. Oh well! Joys of being on the water in Alaska!
In the build up the McCarthy, the guide told us about this activity called “pack rafting” where everyone gets their own blow up boat and we raft through small rapids in a glacier lake. I love rafting, so I always knew if that was available, I was SO GAME! On Friday at dinner when everyone was discussing what they wanted to do for the weekend, the guide excitedly came over to me and said pack rafting was a go on Sunday, as he excited for it also.
I got to sleep in a bit on Sunday, as the rafting wasn’t until the afternoon, but I was a bit unsure about what to wear and what to pack. I didn’t bring any thermals with me and was dreadfully unprepared in the shoe department, but I made it work. After we packed up the campsite and drove down half a mile down the road to Brad’s Place, where we would be spending the night, I gathered up all my stuff for the day. Since I didn’t have proper shoes, I decided to wear my expensive, wool socks today. I was a bit worried that I didn’t have thermals, but I wore my fleece sweatshirt and hiking pants and my hands ended up being the coldest part. Me, two other tour mates, the guide and two pack rafting leaders hiked out about a mile from camp to the lake where we then proceeded to blow up our boats and put our dry suites, booties and weak gloves on. Blowing up the boats was really cool as they used these like huge bags to push air into the boats and then we had to top them up ourselves, which took a bit out of me. We climbed into our boats and had a little lesson on water and paddling and what we were going to do.
I am such a control freak, I love being in my own boat, so this was awesome! It took a bit to figure out how and when to paddle hard and in what direction, but after paddling in circles for a bit, I finally got the hang of it. My hands were just really really cold because the gloves leaked and I was paddling so much and water splashed everywhere. We took a break after a while and dragged the boats back to shore, ate some snacks and tipped the water that came in out and I took my gloves off to warm my hands up. We then got back into the water and hit some bigger (but still really small) rapids and went around a few times.
I got my confidence up and I guess I leaned the wrong direction (as you tend to do when you think you are hot shit) and flipped my boat over, into the glacier rapids! I screamed bloody murder, if only so the guides could hear me and they came over quickly. I gripped onto my boat and lifted my legs up, as we had been told to do. They tried to get me to climb on top of my boat, but my upper arm strength is pretty bad and all I wanted to do, was get near the shore and climb out of the water. My hands were absolutely freezing and it took a moment, thanks to the socks!! but water finally started filling up my boots and all I wanted to do was get out. They finally pulled me out and I ripped off my gloves and the girl guide had me jump up and down and do jumping jacks to warm up my arms and legs. I was so shocked still, I did whatever they told me to do. I jumped around for a little bit, until they dragged everyone else over and out of their boats, so we could set up for the last ride back to camp. Thankfully, we were pretty much done with that part of the tour when I flipped, as I didn’t want to keep the rest of the group from doing anything.
I warmed up as much as I could at that point and I was confident enough to get back in the boat, for a slow and quiet ride, down TINY rapids and paddle back to camp. My confidence was gone and even going down the little rapids, I felt uneasy, but finished the trip. The guides said I did really well and listened to all directions and did what they said, so I felt good about that. I am sure my knowledge of swimming helped too in having me not freak out too bad and gave me the confidence to continue on instead of flat out refusing and walking home. No way, I’d much rather raft home, thanks! We finished the trip and dragged our stuff back to camp (I didn’t have the easiest time carrying my boat at this point because all I wanted to do was take a shower!) but I managed.
Oh, I forgot to mention the weather today! It was overcast the entire day and when we first got on the water, it started to spit rain and we hardly noticed at first because we were paddleing and hitting each other with water, so it was a good day to boat. Most of our tour went glacier hiking today and while the colors on the glacier are supposed to be AMAZING when it’s overcast, hiking in the rain can’t be much fun. I am so glad I ended up doing each activity on the day I did in Wrangell.
Once we were back to camp, I dragged my bag to the first cabin, no knowing who was sleeping where and grabbed all my shower stuff and spent a ton of time in the shower. Do you remember the last time I showered? Yeah, me neither and this was a perfect day for it! Also, when I took off my dry suit, my top felt dry but my bottoms did not and I was fully expecting a wet butt. But when I pulled the suite off, everything was pretty much dry! Big round of applause for the dry suite in doing its job! YAY!!!!!!!!
After the shower, I found out that all my pals where in the other cabin (and the snorer had moved her stuff into the one I was originally in) so I hightailed it to the other cabin. One of my tour mates gave me the loft as well and I was so happy to be up there! It was lovely. I hung my wet socks on the porch, seeing if they would dry (they didn’t, and that was the story on how a $17 pair of socks, worn once, sort of saved my life! A purchase well worth the price) and then went to the main house and just hung out there all night. The guide made burritos and most of the group was meh on it, he had to make a spicy and non-spicy meat (guess which one went first in this group?) but I loved them, so good! We hung out in the main house most of the evening, charging up our phones and cameras and taking advantage of power and lights for the first time in 3 days too! I charged my DVD player for the first time, just in case, but gave myself low priority because seriously, a DVD player? Who cares! Luckily, it charged before most of the group returned from glacier hiking. I walked back to the cabin alone, singing and clapping to scare the bears away because I didn’t have my torch and was alone. I made it back and snuggled into bed, watching tv. It was funny, we filled our cabin in like 4 seconds, thanks to the snorer and there were no more beds, but TM arrived last and she REFUSED to sleep in the other cabin, so dragged one of our blow up mattresses on the floor of our room. Of course, no one cared, but that just goes to show you, how bad it was! Give us tents ANY DAY.
Place was cute and had a sauna too, if you are into that!