Black bear in Fords Terror
While we were at anchor in Fords Terror we got to watch this female black bear who had a couple of cubs. They ate grass and barnacles and crawled over rocks. While we were anchored in this spot we also got to watch two other bears on the opposite shore.
Time-Lapse into the Back of Fords Terror
Fords Terror is, hands-down, one of our favorite locations. We often anchor there in a bowl that is surrounded by 2000-3000 foot high sheer cliff walls with mature spruce and hemlock trees clinging to the seemingly soilless rock. It’s a place where the rain and waterfalls and icebergs create mystical scenes as ravens and eagles fly overhead. Our usual anchorage is amazing, but as always for us, there might be something more just around the corner. At Fords Terror that something more is just on the other side of a narrow constriction and some reversing tidal rapids.
On most trips, we take our guests through the narrows in the skiff. We plan to ride the current in before the tidal floodwater reaches it’s highest high for the day and becomes still before the current changes to an outgoing ebb. We typically spend a couple of hours skiffing around, looking at waterfalls, amazing geology, and sometimes even bears. Then, we’ve always come out on the ebbing current. Jeffrey had always wanted to take the David B into the back, and spend the night. He was curious to see and experience Fords Terror at both high tide and low tide and to see how the back of Fords Terror’s beauty changed over the course of a day. It was so magical that we did something we don’t often do, we decided to spend, not one night but two nights at anchor there. Below is a short time-lapse video of us going into Fords Terror. We hope you enjoy it.
Some waterfalls are big, roaring and attention-grabbing. Other waterfalls are shy. These we seek out in our skiff to listen to their hushed babble and to feel a sense of wonder as we watch them cascade for a thousand feet or more.
A hike at Fords Terror with My 78 year-old dad
My dad gets around pretty well, so long as the path is flat and he has his hiking poles, but he isn’t able to do much that’s really rocky or too steep. So this past summer when we were anchored at Fords Terror he politely declined to go with the rest of the family on the hike.
This was kind of a problem for me because I really wanted him to see it. I really think it is the most stunning place we go ashore in SE Alaska. First, the anchorage is surrounded by these amazing waterfalls, some coming down the sheer walls of the fjord for three to four thousand feet, and of course there’s the “Terror” itself, with the current rushing through the narrow spot, making standing waves four feet high. But when you go ashore it gets even more amazing.
What suffices for a trail goes up to a place where you can look down on the rapids and even start to get a peek up the fjord behind the rapids. Then you walk over a little moss-covered granite rise and you come to the most amazing thing — the kettle ponds. Carved out of solid granite by the action of the glacier passing over the top of the rock, these little ponds, ranging from three to twenty feet across, are just full of lilly pads. It’s an amazing sight. This summer, on an early trip to the spot, I stepped off the trail to let one of my guests pass so she could see and I actually heard her gasp when she saw them. It actually took her breath away.
“I know you told us about this beforehand, but I can’t believe how beautiful it is,” she told us later.
So when my dad was on the boat this past summer, I really wanted him to see it. But the first part of the hike is slippery and seaweed covered, then there’s the section that’s steep, muddy and in a sort of slot through the granite only to get up to the section where the narrow trail pushes through the underbrush and up a muddy ravine. It finally comes out on the slippery moss-covered granite, and that’s where you get this astonishing view.
And he had just declined to go. This is the man that has been hiking and backpacking since before he was in college.This is a guy that has hiked the Rockies, the Cascades, the Sierras, the Brooks Range, summited Mount Rainier, Grand Teton and treked in Nepal around Everest. He is the father that took me and my sister backpacking so we could experience the beauty of nature. He started us when we were just four and six, and we went every year until we were “too old” (teanagers) to go on family vacations. Now here we were on a family vacation and he had said “no.”
So I convinced him. For once, I could show him an amazing wilderness spot. The rest of the group went ahead while we hiked and scrambled. At one point, I held him steady by his belt loops. Later he even had to crawl on his hands and knees. It was a lot of work for both of us, but we made it. And he got to see this place that his adult son now takes people to experience the amazing beauty of nature.
Just like he used to take me.
He thanked me for my persistence too, when we got back to the boat, and I really think he enjoyed the hike, even though it was tough for him.
We hike at Fords Terror on almost all of our trips in Alaska, unless there are unusual circumstances. It’s really majestic. I really want people to see it, but I won’t force you to go.
I’ll steady you by your belt loops if you need it though.
Iceberg goes for a ride
Every so often we get a chance to see something a little unusual. One day while hiking at Fords Terror, we stopped to watch the reversing tidal rapids when a medium sized iceberg got sucked through.