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Old 05-31-2017, 11:29 AM   #1
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InReach Explorer - Alaska Glaciers

Though we didn't take our AdventureMobile on this trip, I took along my new Garmin InReach Explorer and got a good chance to play around with the features. We were on a cruise out of Seattle up the Inside Passage to Glacier Bay. My main objective was getting some good glacier shots, which I'm still processing, having just returned Saturday. But I wanted to post up some pics and comments about the Explorer.

The Explorer performed amazingly well, despite not having "a clear view of the sky" at every moment. I left it in the window on the ship and then stuck it in the chest pocket of my jacket when we were out on the glacier. Other times, it was hanging on a biner off my pack.

I set up the Explorer to track us every ten minutes and send those points to my Map Share page, see the pictures below. I posted a link on my Facebook page for family and friends who were following our trip. The battery lasted for almost seven days and probably could have gone all the way, but I plugged it in about the fifth day just to be safe. The battery life is impressive when you're using it for tracking only. In Juneau, we took a helicopter ride to Herbert Glacier and hiked around a bit. If you're a Map and data nerd like me, you'll enjoy the screen shots of the data available for each point, showing our speed and exact location. The original info on the Map Share page is much clearer. The screen shots blurred it a bit.

This was a fantastic trip I'd recommend to anyone, though your tolerance for risk taking should be high. An hour after we left the glacier, another helicopter crashed in the same place, causing "minor injuries" only, thank goodness. I later read that you're 27 times more likely to crash in a helicopter than a car. Though I'm not sure that really covers the overlanding crowd

I really like that I can go back and relive our trip via the Garmin Mapshare page. It was cool knowing just where the ship was at any given point and even gave me a good understanding of why we were all seasick on a particular day. Turns out the Captain chose an open ocean route at that point, instead of the more sheltered route behind Haida Gwai that is normally taken. No one told us about that, but the Garmin did! I've since been following our tracks around Glacier Bay and learning more about the specific areas I was shooting. I'm loving the interactive nature of this thing.

Some pics: I have a cool video of our glacier landing too, but can't get it to post here.

The Explorer:




The route:




Topo showing where we cut off for the helicopter ride:




Aerials of our route over the glacier:




Touchdown on the glacier. I love how the aerial shows the movement of the glacier like a river. They told us it's moving about a foot a day.




Here's where we got out of the helicopter and started hiking around.




The data points are fun. Here it's showing we were walking pretty slowly and were at 1683 ft elevation. That surprised me because our glaciers here in Oregon (on Mt. Hood, for instance) tend to be at thousands of feet elevation.




This point has us moving 112mph at 2099ft elevation. I smartly deduced that we were in the copter at that point . Since I was in the back, there was no clear view of the sky for the 15 or so minutes we were in the air. The Explorer tracked nonetheless.




Of course, some goofing off on the glacier:




The glacier was great, but I have to admit my favorite part of it all was cruising through Glacier Bay. What a stunning, surreal landscape! We were fortunate to get a sunny day and I spent the entire time out on the deck making photographs. It was like heaven.




.
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Old 05-31-2017, 01:21 PM   #2
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Looks beautiful, thanks for sharing. I'd like to do something like that some day.
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Old 05-31-2017, 02:02 PM   #3
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Thanks for the review. I love being able to look at tracks like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otter View Post
...a good understanding of why we were all seasick on a particular day. Turns out the Captain chose an open ocean route at that point, instead of the more sheltered route behind Haida Gwai that is normally taken.
Don't be fooled - Hecate Strait, because it is relatively shallow, is frequently treacherous. The BC Ferries route from Prince Rupert to Skidegate is often delayed or cancelled due to storms. Your captain may very well have picked the best route at the time.

Cheers,
Brent
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Old 05-31-2017, 02:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb View Post
Looks beautiful, thanks for sharing. I'd like to do something like that some day.
My pleasure, Dave. I hope you can do it too, someday in the not-too-distant-future. I started dreaming about that trip thirty years ago and finally, for my 65th birthday, it happened. It was worth every moment of waiting and I'm still grinning like a kid.
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Old 05-31-2017, 03:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vwteleman View Post
Thanks for the review. I love being able to look at tracks like that.



Don't be fooled - Hecate Strait, because it is relatively shallow, is frequently treacherous. The BC Ferries route from Prince Rupert to Skidegate is often delayed or cancelled due to storms. Your captain may very well have picked the best route at the time.

Cheers,
Brent
Glad to share my tracks with a fellow track-ophile.

You know, after returning to Portland, I read some more about the route and figured that's why the Captain was willing to make the entire ship ill (literally... they ran out of seasick meds in the little store). The Captain got on and apologized for the inconvenience, saying the wind was blowing at 50 knots! Man, we rocked and rolled all day like you wouldn't believe. At one point, we were heeled over really far for 30 minutes. Now, I'm a sailor and I'm used to that in small boats, but it's really something to be on a gigantic cruise ship and realize you're staring straight down into the ocean through that gorgeous floor to ceiling window. All the dishes fell out of the cupboards in the dining area. We nervously started joking about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Then the Captain announced they were going to start moving water ballast to the other side. I think I was expecting something a little more... high tech. Like gyroscopic tricorders or something.

I put my iphone down on the table and the inclinometer showed this:




I figured Hecate Strait must have been pretty bad to have chosen the route we were on. Thankfully, we eventually returned to calmer seas and all was well.


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Old 06-02-2017, 12:12 AM   #6
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I picked up the latest version of the Inreach a while back and have been happy with it. I went with the $25 a month plan. Likely overkill but it's always ready when I need it.


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Old 07-04-2019, 12:05 PM   #7
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Great trip.....
I did the ferry (car/truck) from Bellingham WA to Skagway.......I have made the trip (to AK)a dozen times and wanted to avoid CA I-5 thru BC Canada.
I did not think much of the Captains 1st announcement as we pulled away from the dock.
"Ladies and gentleman this is not a cruise ship". "This is a working ferry". O'my truer words were never spoken.
I soon realized I was going to get a double dose of this non-cruise ship, I had a round trip ticket.
It (ferry) was almost 600 ft long and loaded to the gills with cars and tractor trailers. Each stop was a site to see, watching shifting cars and trucks to unload and reload trailers.
When we reached open seas between islands the Captain made another announcement " hold on to your children as we will experience severe rolling" ( not 15* as your ship) but she did rock and roll ferries are flat bottom to allow access to shallow water passage.. Beautiful scenery, animals, several points along the route we could reach out and touch the trees.
My next trip will be via I-5 and BC Canada enjoying every mile with a smile on my face.
"good luck and bon voyage"
If you have questions about the ferry feel free to ask.....highcountrymike
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Old 07-04-2019, 10:43 PM   #8
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Mike: I always wanted to take that “working ferry” up through the passage. Back in the day, it was my dream to take a backpack and a sleeping bag and do it on the cheap. Now, it’s a bit late for that. But I wouldn’t mind hopping on there for a stop or two. I’m in love with the Washington State and BC Ferries and ride em every chance I get.
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Old 07-05-2019, 10:42 AM   #9
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Glad to hear such good review of the Inreach Explorer! I will be picking up one soon to use on my trip to SA.

Alaska is wonderful from any mode of transportation!
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Old 07-05-2019, 11:04 AM   #10
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The fan tail was covered by back packers and their tents. The ferry has about 100 bunks and most are taken as soon as the seasons schedule is published. So most of us were sleeping on benches, chairs and the floor...as I mention "this was not a curse ship".
The Alaska Ferry Service only stops in Alaskan ports. All of which have no connecting roads to the interior. The fair was very expensive...two people, one dog and one Sportsmobile.
Accommodations for my dog was the van...could visit once every 8 hours. I felt so sorry for her.....cargo bay has bright lights 24 hrs and the constant roar of the engines. "This is not a cruise ship" sums it up.
It's one of those double edged sword experiences......love, hate trip. Glade I did it but not likely to repeat.
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