The Dream World of Holgate Arm

Greetings from the beginnings of finals week! Before I descend into the madness of uncountable final art projects, I have decided to take a moment to contemplate the more peaceful, beautiful times I have experienced within the past year. This summer, while living out at the Glacier Lodge, Zach and I reserved a Forest Service cabin in Holgate Arm for Zach’s birthday weekend. While these cabins are pretty rustic – basically just some wooden bunks and a table (not even an outhouse), this one came with a heater, and we were thrilled. A warm, dry place to sleep at the base of a dramatic glacier in a super remote Alaskan bay? Sign us up! The weather was sunny and kind of warm; the turquoise blue ocean sparkled with floating fragments of ice. We loaded our kayak with warm clothes, food, fuel, stove, cooking gear, sleeping bags, and of course birthday tequila. It took a few hours to paddle from the lodge, heading first into the rollers surging in from the open sea, then turned the corner into the stillness of Holgate Arm. The colors were unlike anything I’ve seen.

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On our second day, we awoke to glorious sunshine and set out to explore the arm.  We needed drinking water, so most of the day was spent searching for a freshwater stream that we could access by kayak.  After a few unsuccessful attempts in different areas, we crossed the bay and found a couple small waterfalls cascading off a cliff, where we filled our bottles and took a break from paddling.

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Water spotted!

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Some crazy hair-like moss.

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From there, we decided to try to find some gigantic waterfalls that Zach had seen on the way in. Paddling along the coastline in perfect silence, the dorsal fins of porpoises began to surface around us, slipping quickly in and out of view. We sat motionless in awe. They couldn’t have been more than ten feet away. After a second they disappeared from view, never to be seen again, but the magic of that moment stuck with us throughout the day. The next beach we landed at was comprised of large, round rocks that shone metallic green-gold in the warm sunlight.

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Love the single red rock.

Paddling further still, we finally reached our destination. Zach wanted to try to hike, so we got out of the boat and climbed the grassy hillside to the most dramatic point of the waterfall. There was also a gigantic boulder on the beach, about the size of a small house.

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Goal achieved, we headed back to the cabin for dinner. In the magic of the late-night sun, I improvised an intensely cheesy pesto pasta on the camping stove, which after a day of paddling, was delicious. The glacier thundered all night long.

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Zach at the dinner table, on his birthday.

Perhaps my favorite part, however, was the next morning. I got up near sunrise and cooked breakfast in the crisp morning air. The whole bay was filled with ice, which we would later paddle through on our way out, listening to the musical quality of the ice pieces clinking together in the gentle rolling of the ocean tide.

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Time to get to work… but a wonderful memory. Enjoy the photos!

4 thoughts on “The Dream World of Holgate Arm

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