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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

TATSHENSHINI: Saving a River Wild

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild by Robert Glenn Ketchum


In 1990, I was invited on a 10-day float down the Tatshenshini, a huge river system flowing from Western Canada to the Pacific Ocean that literally divides two of North America's largest national parks, Canada's Kluane National Park and Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park. A gold mine was being proposed mid-river. I broke the story in LIFE magazine. There were many other articles and a book. The mine was never developed and the river is now a wilderness corridor. This is a conservation SUCCESS story!



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #115
TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #115:  Looking back at where we had come from on the previous evening, you can see that there is some open water close to the shore. It is very shallow here, so the larger bergs ground before reaching this point. The ice that is here is small enough that most of it can be pushed around and thus the guides have gone back into the water to pull the rafts through and around the obstacles in these shallows, and get them over to the open water of the outflowing Alsek river below the massive ice jam. Once again our collective camp trudges the gear across the broad beach to where the boats will be reloaded. Having finished that, most of us are pondering our last views of this place and I am marveling that we made it at all. Again, scale fails me, BUT that blue berg is the size of a small house. It, and those really dirty ones on either side, have completely sealed off ANY path through where we past last night. As we would eventually learn, the next six river float groups to follow during the ensuing week had to be picked up by helicopter from the bar where we had our late lunch. There was NO passage through this to the outlet and no one could float on to the airstrip pick-up.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild  @nature_AK
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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #114
TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #114:  After the ice-crawl to the beach and the post-midnight summit spectacle, we all were toast, so it was not long before we were also unconscious. As I had promised Herb Belkin at the beginning of the trip, our 10-day passage was blessed with remarkable weather, but sometime around 4am I heard a sound all too familiar to anyone who has spent time camping in Southeast - rain on the fly of the tent. It was not hard and driven, and I found it strangely comforting, so I drifted back into slumber. By 7am when we all began to awake, the world we knew from the night before had completely changed. Clearly a Pacific front was moving in. MUCH more ice had jammed into the bay during the night and clouds sometimes came right down onto the water as little squalls passed through. Here Yousef Khanfar and Michael Holmes break down their tent for the last time as we prepare to move the gear and the boats across the beach to the open-water river shoreline below the ice-jam. Yousef is saying, "We made it!" I always wait until I am back in Juneau to say that. 
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild  @nature_AK

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #113
TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #113:  Tents are up. Food is served. Guides are into dry, warmer clothes. Boats are on the beach and we believe that in the morning we can get them into open water past the ice jam at the river outlet. Most of us sit in quiet exhaustion as the food kicks in and our sore muscles and backs finally relax. What an amusing little adventure today was. Somehow a fitting "Alaskan" end to the trip - there is always some kind of dues to pay! Then, one last moment in the evening shut us all up completely and sent us to bed. As we neared 1pm, the sun finally set, and as it reached its lowest angle approaching the horizon, it passed UNDER the high clouds coming in out of the Gulf and lit up the alpine summits of Glacier Bay. This is 15,325ft Mount Fairweather and the huge Alsek glacier, glowing in the extended twilight of an Alaskan summer. This IS wilderness. These are OUR parks. Thank God for the sensible biologists and politicians who helped create and protect these places for all of us to enjoy! (Consider this - we would all have been asleep by now if not for the events of the evening. Cosmic forces truly wanted me to make this picture.) 
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild  @nature_AK

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #112
TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #112:  As the human chain laboriously moved the gear bags along the narrow shoreline, the guides worked long, cold minutes in the water edging the now-lighter boats toward the beach. Here, Patrick is thigh-deep, pulling. The others are using their feet and paddles to keep the VERY SHARP ice edges from puncturing a raft tube. We still needed to float several miles the next day to our pick-up point, and we were very aware that previously we already had a bottom ripped out of one boat, so we did not need another accident. 4 boats had to be nursed through these narrow passages, BUT after hours of work, they ALL reached the shore undamaged and so did the endless gear transfer line. Everyone was exhausted, and several of the guides had numb toes and feet, but there was plenty of driftwood on the shore for a drying, warming fire. Now all we had to do was build one, set up nine tents, and prep dinner. It was just after midnight! photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild  @nature_AK

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #111
TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #111:  TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #111: The boats were too heavy in the water and the icebergs were grounded. Even small bergs weighed so much they were hard to push around. We were getting NOWHERE slowly and the guides were taking huge risks of thermal exposure. We had to try something else. As part of that workforce solution, I have no pictures, but I will tell you what we did: Empty, the guides could slide the boats across the flattest bergs without damage, SO we pushed ourselves back, next to the rock wall of the dome where there was a rugged, narrow, boulder shoreline. EVERYONE got out of the boats and formed a line along the shore, spacing ourselves a mutual "reach" apart. Then, one boat at a time, we began unloading gear and passing it down the line where it was then heaped into a huge pile. Once every boat was unloaded, all of us onshore waded around the gear pile and reformed the line, moving closer to the camp beach each time. It was now past 10pm and the guides were wet, cold, and still in the water, BUT we WERE ALL finally getting closer to the beach. photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild  @nature_AK

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #110
TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #110:  To be clear about what you see because the wide-angle lens makes it seem like there is a lot of open water, let me assure you, THERE IS LITTLE! To the right in the distance you can see the beach we hope to camp upon - it is even farther than it may look given the obstacles. Our raft(s) with people and gear weight hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds. There is NO picking them up, nor do the guides want any of US in the water getting wet at this hour, so we are hoping to move small bergs and "slip" by. We have selected a "small" berg in our path, and the team is trying to move it. It is grounded solidly and GOING NOWHERE, as you can see. The guides are trying to "rock" it loose from the bottom to no avail. Remember also, this water is between 35-37 degrees and these guys are wading!!! Patrick still has one of those silly smiles going, but reality is, these boats are NOT getting to the beach any time soon, and it is now about 10pm. photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, July 5, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #109
TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #109:  The river current quickly swept our boats past the late-lunch peninsula and out into Alsek Lake. The current could still be felt, but on this float we were not having to fight with it to navigate around big icebergs because the lake was SO ice-free. This was one of the longest days of the year, and even though it was past 9pm, there was still a lot of light and the summits of the ranges around us were all illuminated. It was SO peaceful, so beautiful! The final evening of a perfect trip with an amazing light show going on. AND THEN, - remember in post #107 I said that to get to our next camp we would float along the western shore, round a granite dome, and access a beach site on the other side of the dome near the outlet of the river? Well, as we swung around the dome and into the bay of water leading to the outlet and "our" beach, this came into view. Just as in the cove a few hours before, where I discovered the winds had pushed huge amounts of ice aground, the REALLY BIG ice on Alsek Lake had been pushed here. The river outlet was INACCESSIBLE it was so jammed with ice, and getting to the beach did not look any easier. To survey our course of action, we all pulled into a bit of open water along the shoreline of the rock dome. We could see the beach, it was still hundreds of yards away, with A LOT of ice between us. Then, the evening breeze brought a HUGE iceberg up against the dome behind us and closed the door! There was no going back, we HAD to get to the beach.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #107
TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #107:   It was late and the sun was getting low on the horizon. The clear air was bathed in the glow of evening. Often cold winds flow down off of glaciers, especially late in the day, but amazingly tonight as the sun was setting, the wind picked-up AND IT WAS WARM! Sitting on the sandy point pondering and taking pictures, I watched two fairly large bergs finally drift by, and it was notable that driven by the wind, they were REALLY moving along. Soon we would get back in our rafts and push off, entering the lake and floating along the western shore to pass around a rocky dome. On the other side of the dome is a large sandy beach adjacent the Alsek River outlet to the Pacific, which we would float the next day to our pick-up point. As one last stretch for my body, I walked over the berm to the small cove that looks directly east at glaciers coming out of Canada. The last time I was here, the winds off the glacier had driven massive amounts of driftwood into the cove (post #43), but tonight it looked VERY different!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #106
TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #106:   To remind you of how much big ice I saw in Alsek Lake on my first float ten years previously, I repost #51 from this blog. At that time, our passage through the lake to the river outlet was tricky navigation because of the current of the river and the movement of the icebergs. Now it seems there is almost nothing out there that will pose any real problems to our passage, and with it still so warm and clear this late in the day, we were all enjoying these remarkable moments of fortuitous weather surrounded by one of the greatest panoramas of summits and glaciers in the world. Clearly we were nearing the end of a perfect day, at the end of a near-perfect trip (minus a raft bottom and some beer - LOL),..or were we?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #105
TATSHENSHINI - Saving a River Wild, #105:  The float was AMAZING! Warm. Balmy. Everyone having a GREAT time, and as expected, late in the afternoon we arrived at the gravel beach side of the spit that separated the Alsek-Tatsheshini river corridor from Alsek Lake. As usual, everyone began to walk and stretch once we were ashore, and helped to get a "kitchen" established so we could have our late lunch. The weather was SO pleasant, everyone shed their vests and rain gear to do a little sun-bathing. After food, the wandering around began, and I went to the end of the spit to peer across the lake and into Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The view was stunning, clear, and cloudless and the huge summits of the Fairweather Range were etched against the blue sky. I knew this place and this view and I drank the moment in to see it like this. BUT, something was different than the way it looked on my last visit, and as I pondered what it was, it suddenly dawned on me that all the big ice I had encountered in Alsek Lake on my first float down the Tatshenshini 10yrs. previously, was gone.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #104
TATSHENSHINI:   As it was our last day in the river corridor and it was so clear and warm, no one was in a hurry to go anywhere, so we got a late start after a leisurely breakfast. Here Fearless Leader Herb Belkin (and Bobbie) float in the lead boat as we approach the "front" range that separates us from the Pacific coast. We are headed to the base of those summits and then the river will bear left as the it carries us past those peaks and valleys toward Alsek Lake and the northern border of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. We are hoping to have lunch on the beach spit that separates the Tatshenshini/Alsek river from the lake. It will be late in the day before that happens but the weather remains clear and we are enjoying some of the longest days of the year, so we have plenty of time to savor these last moments in this amazing place that somehow, ten years before, I helped to protect and place into designated wilderness status.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #103
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #103: Now yours truly has caught that silly-smile thing from @YousefKhanfar - it must be the day! Hot, balmy warm winds, guides in shorts and bathing suits, and the spectacle of Alsek Lake that will appear later - a PERFECT trip except for the hole-in-the-bottom-of-the-boat moment on the first day. Now we are about to launch for our drift of the last section of the Tatshenshini and sometime late this afternoon we hope to have lunch on a sandy spit just before entering the lake. If you have been following this blog from the beginning, you will know I have been on that beach before. My last visit found vast amounts of driftwood on the lakeshore side of the spit, lots of evidence of bear, and a panoramic view of Alsek Lake and the north side of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve with 15,000ft + Mt. Fairweather dominating the skyline. I can hardly wait to return.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #102
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #102: A great breakfast, unusually warm weather, strange sandstorms and dust tornadoes, and then, it seemed to calm down and without the wind, it just got hot. The boats are loaded. Patrick’s hands have apparently healed sufficiently, and as far as he is concerned, this is desert river weather, not some cold corridor out of #Canada, so he has dressed for the occasion. He has also acquired the “silly-smile-on-my-face” syndrome that others are catching, so it must be something in the air.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #101
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #101: Sweet dreams turned to sweet reality when we awoke - it was crystal clear and a warm wind was blowing. In fact, it even got a bit weirder because by the time we finished breakfast and began to break camp it was really HOT! I was carrying gear to the shore to load the boats when this hit. Alaskans call a sudden wind of great velocity a #ChinookWind and most often they come off the cold surface of a glacier. This morning, however, one came raging down the river corridor and you are witnessing a dust storm that was accompanied by many "dust-devil" mini-tornadoes. It passed through like a freight train, and then things calmed back down. Nonetheless, it was an omen that our day would be one that experienced the affects of the wind.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #100
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #100: By the time we finished "getting rid" of food and drink items that we did not intend to take back to civilization, we were thoroughly skorked! Someone went down to the river and nearly fell in. Some one else was found sleeping in the soft sand of a creek wash with no sleeping bag. Nonetheless, everyone seemed to be having a great time at the end of a wonderful trip. We were all hoping for one more day of good weather for our final push and it looked as though it would remain clear that night. My feelings about everyone's pleasure were reconfirmed when I crawled into my tent to find my tentmate, Jimmy Ienner (@jiennerjr), sound asleep with another of those enigmatic smiles on his face (he must have caught this from #Yousef). It would seem he has been having a good time that now apparently extend into his dreams, and with only one more day left to the trip and the possibility of it being sunny and warm, what could go wrong?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #99
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #99:  The strange get stranger. As the evening wears on, we all realize there is a need to consume ALMOST all of whatever we have left because we do not want to fly anything edible or drinkable back and there is only one more night beside this. To no ones surprise, it turns out we still have a considerable amount of alcohol, so the party is ON - and #MichaelHolmes (left) does not even drink! However, I suspect both of these characters are wasted because they are tired and SO sunburned. OUCH! In case your wondering if Patrick (right) is kinky -as I am sure you noticed his surgical gloves in the last post and this - no he is NOT offering free proctology exams. After days on the river, in the water, and pushing the oars of the heavy cargo boat, his hands are trashed so badly his fingers are bleeding and he has covered them with vaseline and put on the gloves to revive them during our party and his sleep. He still has to paddle the cargo boat for one more day,..and a VERY interesting day it will be!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #98
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #98:  If we were not tired enough from the day's activities, or indeed, the last 9-days, we laughed ourselves to exhaustion watching the bathers. Regardless of the warmth of the day, the water temp was below forty, so the jumpers surfaced like howling flying fish, flailing their arms wildly and trying to get to whatever exit point seemed the closest. This was our last night in the river corridor as tomorrow we would enter #GlacierBayNationalPark and camp on the shoreline of Alsek lake before heading to the plane pick-up point the next morning. At the moment however, the evening has cooled down and it is time for dinner. As 3 of the guides start meal prep, the results of having TOO much fun on this float trip are apparent - we ALL looked this wasted! Glazed eyes; raging sunburns; goofy expressions; Patrick (guide on left) got so excited he lit his shirt on fire but is stylishly still wearing it; and the kitchen table sports a can of pepper spray (just behind the foreground water bottle). This must be Alaska! I hope they don't mistakenly use it to season the salad.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #97
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #97:  Lunch overlooking the #WalkerGlacier and the walk back down to camp were actually blazing hot. It was a VERY hot day and the surrounding ice reflected it ALL right at us. Most of us had pulled our shirts off by the time we reached the beach and we were all looking for the shade of the trees. In ten days on the river, there is a lot of clothes changing to keep clean, but minimal bathing because the weather is usually cold and the water MUCH colder - like in the 30's! Delusionally, on this day of heat, two of our crew (who will remain nameless) decided they would finally get a bath. We all gathered to watch what promised to be quite a spectacle because the plan was to jump off the rock into the deep pool. THEIR concern was not hitting something when they jumped. Having previously bathed in this river, however, I can tell you that their concern SHOULD have also been, "where the f*#@ can I get out!" Once they hit that water it will be the only thought on their mind. Thar' she blows, mateys.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #96
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #96:  By midday we reached the base of the spires. At this point, as cool as the ice was, we were being fried. With such a perfectly clear sky, the sun rays reflecting off of the ice surface SURROUNDING us, was just as strong as the direct sun overhead. We were all standing in a frying pan! Also, go back two posts (#94) and check these spires if you want to see how scale changes as you move through the Alaskan landscape. We could only take so much of this UV exposure, so eventually we left the ice, climbed the hillside nearby for a view, and settled in for some lunch and laziness. At some point during our munch-time, a HUGE avalanche occurred out-of-sight, up-canyon, and echoed around the walls like a sonic boom. The planet was breathing and flexing.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #95
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #95:  After a decent ramble across the rocky debris field we stepped onto the ice and started gradually climbing. Streams and pools of aquamarine blue water were everywhere and there was a concert of many water noises. There was another sound we heard regularly as well - the warming day set off avalanches further up the valley and in the ranges around us. Check the muddy streaking in the chute near the center of this image. EVERYTHING was moving around a little bit.The bright sun made the ice surface dazzling and between the sparkling refractions and the odd color of the surface water, #MichaelHolmes (immediate foreground) kept saying it was like we were "walking through a crystal palace."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #94
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #94:  The next day dawned brilliantly clear, so we gulped down breakfast, created lunches, packed packs, slathered on the sunscreen, and headed for the #WalkerGlacier. Here Fearless Leader is marking the place where the ice was 10-years before. What is harder to grasp in this shot is the scale. To better understand how much ice has been lost and how big this glacier is, compare this and the next two posts as we change our POV. Ultimately our hike will take us onto the ice surface just past the rock debris field, and we will navigate our way to the base of the spires that can be seen in the distance. They may not look formidable from here, but just wait. . .
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #93
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #93:  Everyone was excited by the promise of good weather and the fact that tomorrow we would walk on a glacier, BUT we were also tired and sunburned. We were down to the last two days of a 10-day trip. We had survived a boat/cargo/whitewater "incident." We had ventured on some good hikes and enjoyed slightly inebriated dinners around the campfire. MOST IMPORTANTLY, the weather gods remained friendly and we had yet to be stormed upon. You have no idea how amazingly lucky that is! Nonetheless, all that fun comes with a price so now we are fried and exhausted. All agree the hike tomorrow will be leisurely. As the evening wains, once again #Yousef appears with his enigmatic smile from behind glazed eyes and a VERY pink nose. What will tomorrow bring?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #92
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #92:  Wandering in search of "the perfect" tent site, I began to realize how much larger the sandbar and moraine complex were then when I was last here. Glacial retreat opened up a lot more landscape of boulder and sand which now had established forests of scrub brush. LARGE trees and big bushes dotted that part of the bar I formerly knew and camped upon, and it was right at the edge between these two zones I found a great spot. It was mostly sandy, sheltered by older, bigger vegetation, AND it offered a killer view of the glacial valley and range - as you can see, we have turned the view door of the tent towards it, ostensible so we could lay in our bags and watch the late light show on the peaks. Although the clouds had not gone completely away, we all felt it was clearing. Then, after getting the kitchen and tents set-up, it got notably colder - a sure sign the weather WAS clearing! It also foretold of a cold clear night, so here my tent mate, Jimmy Ienner, Jr. (@jiennerj) adds some fleece layers as we get ready for dinner and a star show.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #91
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #91:  In the time it took to round the corner, paddle out of the current and into the eddy, and find a beach, it had grown outright HOT! Now a warm wind was blowing and the sun beamed in a rapidly clearing sky. The first thing most of us did when we hit the shoreline and began unloading gear was to get out of our steamy rain jackets. As each tent pair awaits a handoff, I am once again amazed by the orderly chaos of this process and how often we repeat it. At the moment, however, it grows even warmer and as I search for a tent site, I am actually trying to find one that offers some shade. If it stays like this tomorrow, it will be blazing on the glacier - dark lenses, lots of sunscreen and lip coat, and meltwater should be flowing EVERYWHERE!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #90
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #90:  Our long float day began under a cloudy sky with a cold wind blowing upriver into our faces. It did not rain but the wind chill was unrelenting and we grew stiff in the boats so we stopped more often to stretch, eat, and drink something warm. At lunch we each took turns trying to injure ourselves by glissading a small icefield nearby, but having survived that without mishap, we were back on the water. Late in the day, the cold breeze died and it actually seemed to warm up. Then the clouds lifted and the sky began to clear, just as a VERY familiar terminal moraine came into view (lower left). A few more moments of floating then brought a glorious "reveal" as one ridge opened to another, and then the pyramid peak that towers above the #WalkerGlacier appeared in radiant sunlight. I certainly hope this portends of a sunny camp tonight and a fine day tomorrow.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #89
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #89:  Inside the warmth of our gear and well fed after dinner, people sat around camp imbibing in after-dinner stories and libations. We have had good fortune with the weather so far, although for the moment coastal clouds have moved in once again. It seems we are all having quite a good time and I know tomorrow, it only gets better if the weather holds. Pondering "where-the-river-will-take-us," I walk out of the social circle and rock-dance in the twilight to the end of our bar. Downriver, around another dozen big sweeping bends, past hundreds of waterfalls and glacial views, the #WalkerGlacier awaits our presence tomorrow night. It was surreal to walk upon it the first time, but now 10-years later I could fully appreciate what an amazing point of access it afforded AND I was curious to see if climate change had affected it. Many other glaciers on this float were certainly showing signs of retreat, some of it epic!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #88
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #88:  I actually found a place on the bar that was so brushy and dense it marked an establishing forest trying to colonize the flood plain terrain. It also was blooming wildly, and in the middle of it all I came upon this - a luminous, aged driftwood log, the remnant of some of the forest upstream now swept away, currently sitting amidst a completely new and emergent forest that is growing up around it and feeding off of it. Debris from the rotting stump builds the soil needed for the trees to come, add bear poop and fish meal,..OK! Getting a little TOO cosmic here. Probably better to head back toward camp and get some food. The wind is blowing, and the wind chill calls for some further layers. As it is relatively dark under these clouds, it is AMAZING anything was still long enough for a picture, but that is totally over at this point. Brrr!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #87
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #87:  With camp set, I grabbed my camera and headed “inland,” away from the sandy shoreline and toward the older most established part of the bar that was covered with some soil and a good deal of vegetation. Upon approaching the first patch of grasses, I realized our trip had been blessed with some remarkable timing. EVERYTHING was blooming – grasses, flowers, small shrubs - yeow! The window for this spectacle was less than two weeks and we had arrived, pretty much, AT THE PEAK. Look at those concentrations of bloom (and 26 glaciers),..and for the moment it has become dead still.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #86
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #86:  A leisurely morning of floating remained sunny, but after our stop for lunch, a cool breeze picked up and clouds began to roll in off of the #Pacific, over the #BrabazonMountains (the coastal range). When we got back in the boats, a chill wind was blowing on us. I was eager to reach our destination, not because I was cold, but because it was one of the most spectacular. Our next beach is known as Confluence Camp. It is a vast sandbar created at the junction of the #AlsekRiver emerging from #Wrangell-St.EliasNationalParkandPreserve, and merging with the #Tatshenshini. At this point the combined river(s) is nearly 2-miles wide, and 26 glaciers are visible from the camp/gravel-covered bar. Here the Cilios work to finalize their camp set-up as everyone is eager to explore our “island” AND have some hot chocolate.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #85
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #85:  Departing? Well, maybe not so fast. There IS all that gear. I am sorry if I am boring my readers with these “gear” shots, but they just amaze me. First, because we pack and load, and offload and unpack, ALL of this stuff virtually EVERY day. Then, the little details: the female guide in the blue vest is sporting a rescue whistle on her shoulder and an attractive can of bear spray on her hip; Michael (just above her) has an astounding number of bottles and straps hanging off of him - clearly he is prepared for anything!; most of the cast members have assumed “advisory” positions and are letting the guides “finalize” before launching; and one of our guides apparently thinks this is the #ColoradoRiver, not the #Tatshenshini, and is enjoying the “warm” day.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #84
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #84:  The morning began with somewhat cranky campers as there was a cold, damp fog down on the river and many mistakenly thought that it was bad weather moving in. Breakfast was cool enough that everyone wore most of their gear. Knowing what I said about the weather the evening before, the air at breakfast was “pregnant” with anticipation about what I would now say given the drippy cold. We finished the meal and were preparing the boats, when Herb finally spoke: “Well..?” Just then, the gods proved kind! Literally as he spoke, this happened behind him. The fog lifted off as the sun burned through. I simply turned him around and assured him we were going to have another fine day. To the boats!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #83
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #83:  More clouds moved in and Herb immediately reminded me of my promise to keep the trip in good weather. I assured him that I was and he should just be patient (and have some more wine.) Dinner, socializing, and spectacle watching all proceeded with gusto, but the clouds looked like they had put an end to the light show. At the last minute, however, the setting sun dipped beneath the high ceiling and fired some faint, low-angled rays onto the summits behind us, upriver. “Red skies at night, sailor’s delight,” so I guess tomorrow will be another lovely day in the neighborhood.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #82
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #82:  The day remained warm and mostly sunny as our boats drifted merrily along. Late that afternoon, we found ourselves setting up camp on one of THOSE beaches – a guide-selected, wowser-view kitchen and bedroom. This particular gravel bar was wide, flat and spectacularly surrounded by summits that were now starting to illuminate dramatically in the waning light of the evening. It had been a long day, and everyone was eager to settle into warmer clothes and relax for the “cocktail hour” as it seemed there might be an evening "show."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #81
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #81:  In the morning we were greeted by more good weather, and after breakfast we eagerly broke camp to begin another day of leisurely drifting downstream. Having previously floated the #Tatshenshini, this time around I saw the river corridor in a very different way. Many of the surrounding summits beckoned you to attempt a climb, and surely getting on top of them would offer amazing views, BUT getting FROM the river TO the mountain base to begin climbing is an unimaginable thrash. I now realize the gift of the guides is that they know the beaches that offer views, protection, and good points of access. Without that knowledge you would spend a lot of effort trying to explore this terrain and not really get anywhere.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #80
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #80:  After a tough day of watching glaciers and mountains go by, we finally arrived at our next camp site and got set up. Here Jimmy Ienner, Jr. (@jiennerj) and Michael Holmes try to recover from the exhausting day of viewing. Michael is blond-haired, blue-eyed and of very fair skin. When we hung out at the beach together and he would get sunburned, we called him "Big Pink." Look again at this picture. Michael's face has NOT been colorized in @Adobe, he just got a "little too much" sun today because we had such nice weather while floating. Note too, he is rockin' river tripping fashion with his blue longjohns beneath his shorts. Several hours later, these two would be found in virtually these same positions, just unconscious!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #79
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #79:  As on the first float down the #Tatshenshini 10yrs earlier, the passing landscape of increasingly larger mountains and descending glaciers was a spectacle. There was more snow than I remember from our first trip, but it was also earlier in the season so that was not surprising, and the snow melt gave the river a substantial current. Weather rolled through, but it did not rain or blow hard, so the day was spent in the reverie of comfortable drifting. No boats grounded in shallows. No boats damaged on the rocks. Just a lazy, leisurely float through one of the largest, legally designated wildernesses IN THE WORLD (and I actually had something to do with that, YEOW!). Thank you Herb and Bobbie for ALWAYS supporting me!!!!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #78
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #78:  I love this picture of the Belkins. As we prepare to launch, Bobbie has on her “I am hoping it will be a nice day” look and a GREAT pair of glasses. Herb has just turned to me and asked what else I have in-store for them on the 2nd day. I tried to remind Herb that I have little to do with anything that happens other than to be along for the ride just as we all were, but he assured me that this was MY trip and he hoped we could avoid the “excitement” of the previous day, and just float along happily. Taking him at his word (and as one of my most important collectors), I arranged for the whole rest of the trip to be sunny,..well, almost!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #77
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #77:  Once re-packed and properly secured the boats were ready to go. We all watched with some apprehension AND amusement as the cargo boat pushed off, settled deeply into the river, and began it’s sluggish float into the current. The deck design seemed to work well, as the boat looked flat and stable – it was just hard to see the guide (LOL). One thing for sure, there were going to be no quick decisions made navigating this cargo boat. Laden down so heavily, it was very slow to respond to the paddles and I am sure maneuvering it in the fast current was a lot of work. Nonetheless, we were off once again!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #76
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #76:  The damaged boat lost it’s capacity for storage on the now-missing floor, but the inflated donut exterior was fine and the aluminum framed rowing chair gave the donut strength to keep it from buckling. The frame also offered a support platform for the tables that were used as the kitchen for prepping meals. It was decided that the damaged boat would take on all the tables, basically “decking” the donut of the raft. MOST of the gear was then piled and lashed onto the tables, and by moving the gear to an exclusively “cargo” boat, there was more room for the extra people in the remaining rafts. Only a guide would paddle the cargo boat by himself,..if it floats (LOL).
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #75
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #75:  Ah, that first night around the old camp fire! Hungry,..dazed and confused! Buzzed on cigars and whatever else. OK! Let’s see. I am on a 10-day wilderness river float with a lot of people and gear; we are on a very large river; and we sorta just lost one of the boats. Yousef still has that funny smile on his face, as well! Notice the clothing layers? It is going to be really cold tonight because it is clear. At least it IS clear. Perhaps we will have some good weather to compensate us for our "losses." In the morning we can put our finest collective design minds together and figure out what to do with what we have and how to proceed downriver from here.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #74
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #74:  An experienced camper checks for their most important items first to make sure that they were NOT claimed by the river. Once Jimmy decided his precious stores were safe, he felt so good about it he had to smoke one. And remember, the river only got two cases of beer and none of the wine. All seemed good in camp. We had survived a challenge without TOO much lost or damaged, so now the guides were just faced with the challenge of reconfiguring one raft. No one was going to straddle the float tube and dangle their feet in the water, so four of us would move to other boats, BUT it was still necessary to make the boat usuable because there was SO much gear and food to carry,..and this WAS only the first day!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #73
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #73:  At the moment the boat was damaged there was little to do but float on and secure any gear that was in danger of falling through the torn floor into the river. Fortunately our intended campsite was not far and once there we began to assess our losses. The guests were asked to set up their camps and check for ALL their gear as we knew two cases of beer were gone, but we were not sure what else might have been lost. No one seemed to be missing anything personal - tents, bags, or the like - but the guides discovered one of the coolers of fresh food was sucked into the river as well,..not that we would probably notice considering the opulence of our supplies.The guides also pondered a boat repair, but decided it was not really possible and nothing could be done to re-attach the floor that had been ripped away. We would have to rethink what was left of the raft in a new design so that it would continue to be useful to the float trip.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #72
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #72:  For those who have been following this blog from the start, this probably looks familiar. It was the 1st #Tatshenshini campsite at which we stopped (posts #5-7) and it was slated to be a holding pond for the proposed #WindyCraggyMine. Well now it is ten years later, this wetland is still beautiful and vibrantly alive; the mine permit has been cancelled; there will “be no stinking” holding pond; and the entire river corridor is in protected #wilderness and has #WorldBiosphere status. THE ENVIRONMENT CAN BE DEFENDED BY A DETERMINED, WELL-INFORMED CITIZENRY AND ENLIGHTENED POLITICAL LEADERS! That fact is so significant, we are once again on this beach to toast it and the success of the campaign! Cheers!!!! (Even the river must be in on this considering it scooped two cases of our beer in the whitewater challenge-LOL).
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #71
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #71:  Big rubber paddle rafts are an inflated oval "donut" attached to a thin, very flexible but tough rubber/vinyl floor, all reinforced with an aluminum pole frame that anchors the oar chair. The guides do most of the paddling from the oar chair but in specific circumstances they call on the guests to assist. There are 2 guests in front, and two behind the chair, and they are surrounded with various bags of gear stacked, strapped, or clipped on. Personal gear, tents, sleeping bags, food, etc. were all in waterproof drybags clipped onto the raft ropelines. Items like coolers and cases of wine and beer just sat on the floor. It is hard enough to steer a loaded boat with 5 people aboard, but a REALLY loaded boat in fast water was truly difficult to manage, even with everyone helping. Of our four “craft,” 3 navigated the rock-rapid gauntlet unscathed. The 4th, however was NOT so lucky. It “pushed up” onto a sharp rock that ripped away the raft bottom right from under the feet of the quests. It also dropped 2 precious cases of beer into the Tat. GONE! One day that will wash up for some other party. Talk about cold beer! (That black rubber to the right is the former floor, now wrapped around the float tube donut which was NOT punctured. Apparently our flotilla has just added a “glass-bottom boat” Alaskan style (LOL).
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #70
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #70: The freezing Class 3 whitewater section of the #Tatshenshini happens quite soon after the float began on the first day of the trip. The river is still relatively small and narrow at this point but the current is quite “brisk” and will only get more so as the river flows on and picks up both speed and more water. The increase in size and flow will also bring wider meanders and more glacial silt, so most of what will challenge us ahead is sand bars, river debris, and channel braid confusion. Today, however, the river is still so “young” its rocks are showing and we must first navigate that. The weather broke a bit, and the sunspots are warm, but we will all soon be warmer yet because traversing the upcoming whitewater will require everyone aboard to paddle. Right now, Mr. Khanfar is pretty smiley face. Hang on, my friend!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #69
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #69:  Herb was pretty funny as well. Herb was a big guy and he had the largest vest available, BUT with all his clothing layers, he could barely buckle his life jacket. It took several attempts, after which he announced it was unlikely he was having any lunch as he might explode. With the rain increasing, we ate quickly, finished the last packing and adjustments to the boats, and then we were off. Believe me, we were OFF!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #68
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #68:  See, I told you he was a little crazy! As we complete our final task of putting on our life jackets, the anticipation of the trip sets off a little comedic routine from Michael Holmes, who is telling the guides that the life jacket was overkill as he had on so many layers, all the trapped (hot) air would make him float anyway. He was probably right as most of us had on every layer we owned. Note Michael has on neoprene gloves. I put my life jacket on just to add another layer of warmth. Time to down a quick lunch, get paddling (the Class 3 rapids are waiting), and warm up!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #67
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #67:  And then there is this critter! Meet Michael Holmes, a decorated Marine that fought in Vietnam, and a friend of mine since high school. Also, a considerable crazy of the best kind! At the moment, however, it is wet and cold; bugs are everywhere. In Michael’s words, “there is more F*#*^% gear than we could EVER possibly need.” We all patiently await the guides as they do final prep, trying to get it all on the boats. As yet, Michael does not know that “all that gear” includes a box of premium cigars, massive quantities of beer, and quite a nice selection of fine wines, thank you! By noon, it / we will all be floating toward the #Pacific in some VERY laden rafts.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #66
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #66:  There is that look again! This is my friend, Yousef Khanfar. I believe he has just said, Wait! What? Seriously!!?? Yousef is a good friend and great photographer I have known for many years. He is a Palestinian, who was living in Oklahoma City at the time of this trip, and now he finds himself in a van on a rough road somewhere in Canada. He is a LONG way from “home”! He does do extraordinary photography of the landscape, however he had not yet ventured out into one quite this wild. The mention of the freezing Class 3 whitewater caught his attention. Of course, the guides are laughing at all of this.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #65
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #65:  Here are two more characters in this proposed Tat anniversary float - Lisa Cilio, friend of the Belkins, and my friend and fellow photographer, Jimmy Ienner, Jr. Jimmy headed the Sony studio in NY and did album covers for people like #MariahCarey, but he also spent time in the north woods. Many of these guests had “camped” and “hiked” but none of them had done anything like this before except the guides and myself. Since the day started off cold and raining in #Haines, there was quite a lot of conversation in the van en route to the river put-in about what we “might expect.” HA! HA! When I took this shot I had either just told them about the insect populations along the river, or the Class 3 whitewater on the first day that is rated Class 4 because the water is SO cold. You can see how excited they are!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #64
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #64:  My “tale-of-the-TAT” is NOT over, however, just because we stopped the mine. You are looking at Herb and @Bobbie Belkin, two of my best friends, dedicated supporters, and avid collectors. They not only purchased a lot of my printwork, but they contributed to many of my projects, especially ones in Alaska. As they had not yet visited the state, 10yrs. after the “victory” of protecting the Tat, they proposed traveling up to see Alaska and specifically wanted to float the river as part of an unofficial “anniversary” celebration. Herb suggested I arrange “the best” guide group and prepare for a “serious” celebratory float. He would cover the cost of the trip and bring Bobbie, their two sons and wives, and some family friends, the Cilios. There would also be enough room for me to invite 3 “entertaining” friends of my choice. Really?? Uh, oh! This is going to get interesting!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #63
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #63:  Essays or brief statements for the book were contributed by Senator #Gore, #EdgarWayburn, and #PierreTrudeau to name but a few, and there was a diverse view of the river presented by the many photographers THEN, the book was going to press when something astonishing happened. Premier #Harcourt announced to the world that he had cancelled the permit for #Geddes’ proposed #WindyCraggyMine and made the nearly 1-million-hectare #Tatshenshihi and #Alsek river corridors a new Class A provincial Park. He further stated he was seeking World Heritage Site status for the area as the new park joined the American #Wrangell-St.EliasNationalPark and Preserve to the north, #GlacierBayNationalPark and Preserve in the south, and #KluaneNationalPark and Reserve of Canada to the east, CREATING THE LARGEST INTERNATIONALLY PROTECTED WILDERNESS AREA IN THE WORLD!!! In response, we adjusted the book design and put Harcourt’s announcement letter as the frontispiece. Yes, you have seen this image before in this blog - post #21. This image was selected by the group #AmericanRivers and given as signed prints to Harcourt and Gore to acknowledge their efforts in helping to recognize and protect this huge area of wild land. Now, SAY NO TO THE PEBBLE MINE so we can similarly protect Southwest (AK) and keep Bristol Bay salmon 'doin the "wild thing.".
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015


TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #62
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #62:  I had select pictures published in dozens of magazines - more as news stories, than multi-picture spreads - BUT it did not matter because it was helping to create an audience. From both sides of the border, other photographers and significant writers became involved. Senator Al Gore took note of the growing debate and brought it to Congress. He saw the proposed mine as a threat to both American fisheries and to two major American national parks. Gore was also friends’ with Premier of British Columbia Michael Harcourt under whose domain the mine permit had been allowed, and so Gore spoke with Harcourt about it. Meanwhile, 49 photographers, artists, writers, river guides, and biologists had coalesced around creating an advocacy book, “TATSHENSHINI: River Wild.” The publishing house, #Westcliffe, knew getting it out was timely, so they projected a release date of spring-summmer of 1993 . Further conversations arose about distributing/lobbying with the book, and the possibility of an exhibit. These were tried and true platforms of advocacy publishing and campaigning that had worked very well for me in years previous during Tongass rainforest campaign.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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