I keep thinking about the second straight day of rain in Lituya Bay, my e-reader smashed, my phone low on charge, solar panel not helpful in the gray. Nothing to do and nowhere to go.

At home, downtime is laced with guilt. I can read in the sunshine, but I could also put in more hours for work. I could be making dinner, cleaning, researching house renovations. I could go for a walk, listen (usually 2–3x speed) to one of my audiobooks. I could put in more time with one of the activist orgs, finish a blog idea. …


I’m sitting in a plastic chair in Pelican’s public laundry. The place has charts tacked to the walls, a space heater in the corner, and coin-op showers, mostly for fisherfolk coming in off of boats. It’s a warm place with a roof and power outlets, a bookshelf in the corner that’s about half and half Nora Roberts and Clive Cussler, none of them new.

Our seaplane to Juneau was supposed to depart here four hours ago, but the pilot turned around on the way to pick us up. It’s drizzling, not stormy, but the clouds are low and that’s enough.


We wake early, as we do every day. Usually we crawl into our sleeping bags by nine to get out of the wind that comes up after dinner. This leaves us awake in our tents at first light, dozing and reading for some hours as we hope for the morning sun to burn off the mist.

Like most of the other mornings, it’s misty but not really raining. The inside of my rainfly is beaded with moisture from the night. …


The water is mirror-smooth. An eagle circles, spirals, drops talon-first to glance the surface, rises away. I walk out over rain-slick rocks toward the point with the belching seals. They’re sunning in their improbable rock-top crescent balances, nose and tail pointed skyward.

Yesterday, we skimmed out to the head of the bay to explore the three glaciers. Our rubber dinghy bottomed out in bubbling gray silt while seals rolled and watched. …


I wake in the night and hear a sound. It’s like water in a kettle that’s about to boil, or a busy highway from down a canyon. Maybe it’s a jet flying overhead? Even here, we’ve seen a couple — but this doesn’t seem to change direction.

Or maybe it’s getting louder? What does a tidal wave sound like?

But, I reason, if it’s that, we have no chance anyway. For some reason I think this thought should help me go back to sleep.

I’ve been using that reasoning with a number of unidentified nighttime sounds: was that a heavy…


We’ve been feasting, here on our beach. The forage is good — fiddleheads, goosetongue, beach cabbage, wild parsley, mussels, morels — but the shrimping is even better.

A shrimp pot is a metal cage covered in a net that cinches at the bottom. We hang bait in the middle from a string, and then shrimp enter through side tunnels that are inward-turned cones. We tie a clove hitch on a rock and clip it with a ganion to the bottom, which keeps it oriented the right way when we throw the whole contraption overboard and let out the weighted line…


When I woke up this morning, it was Not Raining! I refrained from further exclamation points to spare you, but reader, everything that's not wet is damp. We need a rain break.

Rick and Ryan were similarly bolstered by the just-okay weather, and so we decided to execute on our most ambitious hike of this trip: Solomon Railroad, a long spur you can see from the water that ramps all the way down from mid-mountain to a series of trailing bumps that curl around Fish Lake. …


Today is the second day in a row that's so rainy we try not to leave our tents. The water has started to splash through the rainfly a little, tiny drops dotting my carefully dry warm things. All my raingear is still soaked through from yesterday, so it's a debate whether or not to wear it when I have to dash outside. Naturally, I've also just gotten my period. And I must have dropped my Ziploc of toilet paper on my last run out of the tent, because it's not in my pocket anymore.

When it's sunny out, it's easy…


I bathed today! We hiked all morning in overcast, but in the afternoon, the sun came out. Rick and Ryan went to nap in their tents, so I siezed the fortunate convergence of events to get clean.

Each morning, I unbraid my hair, two long french pigtails, finger comb them one side at a time, and immediately rebraid. It's my time-tested method for reasonably neat hair in the long term, and I don't have to deal with tangles. Each night, I towel dry my feet and body as part of an elaborate no-moisture bedtime procedure. I wash my face in…


"Things go shrimpingly. Pls charter: Lituya-Pel noon 26th. 800lbs incl us. Bon has # of Chuck, another airline option. Use these coords. Thx." It's 50 cents per 160-character custom message sent or received via Garmin InReach over the Iridium satellite network, well worth it to have a contact option. This is Rick's message to Eileen to plan our way out of here.

The InReach takes anywhere from tenseconds to two hours to send a message, so Rick and Eileen have prepped for the need to charter a seaplane in advance of the trip. Plan A (much cheaper) was to hang…

Kelsey Breseman

An adventurer, woodland creature, and engineer. Currently working on data ownership models, environmental accountability, and intentional community.

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