Glacial Lake, Alaska --7/10/1999

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©1999 R.Gandia

Photo retouched with GIMP (for linux)

Glacial Lake is about 6 miles long; runs north to south and is nested into the Kugluaik Mountain Range of the Seward Peninsula, Alaska. This mountain range is popularly known as the "Sawtooth mountains".

The lake is figure-8 shaped, with a sandspit in the middle which can be seen in the picture above. The clean, creamy, sandy beach makes an excellent picnic and campground. Willows and alders vegetate the spit and offer shelter from any unruly winds that may arise.

The mountainsides are heavily vegetated with the same willow and alder brush and appear as shadows to the left and right of the lake.

Fishing is reported to be superb at this location!


Inspecting the Outlet of Glacial Lake, Alaska

©1999 R.Gandia

Mike Hahn has been my friend for 33 years. Here he is astride his Polaris Sportman 500 4x4 ATV. We are all eyeballing the outlet of Glacial Lake to see how we are going to get across. This is about 300 yards downstream of the outlet, and it was too deep. Upstream, right at the outlet itself, we found shallower water and got across.

The Polaris 4x4 ATV is a very capable machine. It has an automatic transmission, and a hand operated shifter (rev-N-hi-lo), which can be operated without getting water into your boots. It is a heavy machine, and you can go thru 2" willow stands and just bowl over the brush. With its independent suspension, the ride is very smooth and easy on the butt. Lastly, this machine has a very high intake snorkel and can go thru water that will submerge the seat without drowning out the engine. Impressive!

We are green with envy about his machine.... the rest of us drive "other brands."


Effie Waves at the Camera

©1999 R.Gandia

Here is a picture of Evelyn "Effie" Bonnar, sister to my wife. In the background is a bend in the Sinuk River, Alaska. This river drains the Sawtooth Mountains and empties into the Bering Sea about 30 miles downriver from this location. It is a big river then! But here, up in the foothills of the mountains, it was possible to cross it with our 4-wheelers. Not without mishap, as you will soon see!


Alaska Tundra Flowers

©1999 R.Gandia

Beautiful Tundra Flowers

Most people think of Tundra as a drab, uniform tangled mat of vegetation. Not so! It is a riot of plants, shrubs, and beautiful, delicate flowers with bees buzzing around them and drinking of the sweet nectar.


Don"t Do This!

©1999 R.Gandia
Upside down in the River

Glub, Glub...

This picture shows the misadventures of Ramon, right smack in the middle of the Sinuk River, Alaska. About 25 miles northwest of Nome, and nowhere near any roads or trails. The machine is a 200 cc Honda 2-wheel drive ATV 1984 model. The river was too deep; the machine floated off the bottom and turned turtle, then drifted downstream until it touched bottom.

Way this started.... well, the rest of the gang was camping and having lunch, or at least something to eat. Myself and the dog skipper went looking for a place to cross the Sinuk river. Mike Hahn said that it was impossible. Well, like the saying goes, 'the difficult takes a while and the impossible a little longer.' So off I go. Getting to the riverbank, it looked pretty grim, what with the swift river raising rapids and swirls. So I cruised the riverbank a bit and found this spot that looked promising. What was needed was to go to mid stream, then upstream against the current following an underwater gravel bar, then turn north again to finish the crossing.

So, I left Skipper on the bank, and here I go charging into the river. All went fairly well until I faced the current. The machine just died because something in the engine got wet. I figured maybe I could jump off and drag it to the other side. I took my shoes, socks and pants off and jumped in the water. It was like a jolt of electricity! It was so cold, and the gravel was so sharp on my feet! So, I got on the machine. Wet. And now the mosquitoes were feasting on me. Man, i sure needed those clothes! But, alas, I wanted to wait until my body dried up so I would not have damp clothes.

Meantime, Skipper is barking his life away, and I am perched semi naked on top of the machine swatting mosquitoes. I yell at Skipper to go get help. He finally got the idea and off he goes in search of Margaret and the rest of the crew. Which he brought down to the river where they all had fun watching me wearing nothing but my BVD's while swatting mosquitoes.

Well, at this point I got dressed. Mike, who has a big machine simply drove up to me and around me the way I had envisioned. But he had no rope. Next was Carl and Effie, who made it across with little trouble. Only Ramon was stuck! So I am jumping up and down and shouting to throw me the rope. Carl walks opposite me on the far riverbank and passes me a rope and after I fasten it to my machine starts pulling and towing.

Alas, I had not gone upstream enough, so the machine goes into the deep water and turns turtle, pinning me under the machine. There I am, in four feet of water with a machine on top of me. Lucky, it drifted off and I came up for air! But now I was truly soaked. Carl....he is impervious to hardship...just walked and waded over and helped get the machine righted and towed ashore.

In the picture, Carl Rock, my wife's nephew, is assisting me in turning it back upright prior to towing it out of the river. Once we did that, we had to drain the water from the engine, the carburator and make sure the engine ran properly. It was a wet experience, but on that particular day the temperature was in the 70's, so it was not that bad. Later on, we all laughed about it. In fact, although it does not show well on this internet picture, Carl is grinning like a Cheshire Cat. Wait 'til I get even with him!


Skipper Hitches a Ride

©1999 R.Gandia
Transportable Dog

Skipper normally loves the water, but when it gets too deep, to swift or too scary, he is not above hitching a ride across the worse of it. His tail shows that he is not particularly happy at this moment. But a few minutes later, when we arrived at the far bank, he was all joy, jumps and bounce!


Margaret & Kandie

©1999 R.Gandia

Margaret and Kandie

  Hard working Pair

These two make a pair! On the right is Kandie, wife to my son Tony. On the left is Margaret, my wife since 1988....and a great 4-wheeler rider in her own right. There is nothing those two will not attempt or get into. If one is scared, the other one will try it and say "see...I did it, now its your turn!" Yeah...sure....but once in a while I have to pull them out of the mud!

And yes, summer in Alaska is often warm enough for shirtsleeves, as Kandie demonstrates!


Skipper's Day! - 7/10/1999

©1999 R.Gandia
Skipper Romps along the Trail

This is Skipper, my 16-year old dog. Picture taken in 1999 when he was 12 years old. He is having the time of his life and having fun on the way to Glacial Lake!

Go for it, Skipper. You've logged over 8,000 miles along and behind the 4-wheelers since you turned 9 years old!

Note 10/29/2020: Skipper passed away Sept 24, 2004, aged 17 years.


Copyright 1999 Ramon Gandia. All rights reserved.