Return to Misty Moorings - Trip Tic V-2

Destination: Baird-LeConte Glacier Tour
(Added: 09.02.2012)

Route Notes

  • Suggested Altitude: 1200-7200 feet
  • Landing zone is: Land and Ice
  • GPS for destination: N57 15.23 W132 12.70
  • Distance approximately: 40 miles (and back)
  • Download PRINT-ABLE copy HERE
  • Flight-Seeing Flight Plan & Map HERE
  • Trip Ticket FAQ Usage HERE
  • Scenery Needed: Baird Leconte Glacire Tour

This package includes a little scenery location on the top of Baird Glacier (above Petersburg, AK) and a Trip Ticket that gives you plenty of history and color fly the flight. This is a tour of the glaciers leaving from Petersburg, AK (PAWG), flying up the Baird Glacier, landing or passing over a tiny Snow Dogs Camp, then continuing to the LeConte glacier and back down to beautiful LeConte Bay ... full of icebergs. Then another short leg to get you back to Petersburg.

WaveTop/TreeTop Flight Plan

FROM: Petersburg, AK (PAPG)
TO: Baird & LeConte Glaciers and Return

Leg: Frederick Sound to Thomas Bay
Initial Course: 360
Leg Distance: 11 Miles
Leg Altitude: 1200 Feet

Welcome to the Baird and LeConte Glacier Flight Seeing Tour. As we leave Petersburg, we are flying over the Frederick Sound, (also called Prince Frederick Sound or Prince Frederick's Sound) is a passage of water in the Alexander Archipelago in southeastern Alaska that separates Kupreanof Island to the south from Admiralty Island in the north.

Frederick Sound was named by Captain George Vancouver for Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. It was first charted in 1794 by two of his men, Joseph Whidbey and James Johnstone.[1] The sound may also be known as the Russian transliteration Fridrikhe Zund.

The sound is a popular location for watching whales in the summer and is busy marine passageway for both Alaska Marine Highway ferries and cruise ships. The sound is home to the Five Finger Islands Light located about 35 miles due west of our position (port side).

As we cross the sound, we are looking for a body of water ahead called Thomas Bay. Thomas Bay is located in southeast Alaska. It lies northeast of Petersburg, Alaska and the Baird Glacier drains into the bay. Thomas Bay is also known as "The Bay of Death" due to a massive landslide in 1750. It also has gained the name of "Devil's Country" when in 1900 several people claimed to have seen devil creatures in the area, more about that later. The bay is named for U.S. Navy officer Charles M. Thomas.

Thomas Bay is known for being rich in gold and quartz. The wildlife has moose, brown bears, black bears, squirrels, wolves, rabbits, and other common Alaskan creatures. The land has been used for logging.In 1750, a native (Tlingit) village on Thomas Bay was completely buried by a large landslide. Over 500 native people died in the natural disaster. From that day on the bay was dubbed "The Bay of Death" or "Geey Nana" in Tlingit.

Leg: Thomas Bay to the Baird Glacier
Initial Course: 326 (follow the bay)
Leg Distance: 8 Miles to the glacier's foot
Leg Altitude:
1200 Feet

As we come over Thomas Bay, we turn to port with Ruth Island passing to port.

Thomas Bay is known for being rich in gold and quartz. The wildlife has moose, brown bears, black bears, squirrels, wolves, rabbits, and other common Alaskan creatures. The land has been used for logging.In 1750, a native (Tlingit) village on Thomas Bay was completely buried by a large landslide. Over 500 native people died in the natural disaster. From that day on the bay was dubbed "The Bay of Death" or "Geey Nana" in Tlingit.

Ice & Mud, Alaska

As you hike along the lower reaches of the glacier, you'll see luminous spongy moss covered the first section, with boulders like polished eggs staring up at us from odd angles. Closer to the glacier, gold and silver flecks merged with the mud, capturing frozen veins of ice in lattices in between.

There are "mud" areas near these glaciers that are like "Marshmallow" Mud.


Thomas Bay bay (with Windy Point to port) curves to starboard and begins to narrow as it approaches the foot of the Baird Glacier just ahead. You will now get your first look at this magnificent and ancient river of ice 4 miles ahead. Notice how the water changes color as we approach the glacier. This is all melt water in the upper reaches of Thomas Bay. Also, there at the foot of the glacier is the "marshmallow mud" described above. Then the ice starts. Ahead, we will cross over the foot of the glacier and begin to climb.

Leg: Baird Glacier to Snow Dog Camp
Initial Course: 043
Leg Distance: 21 miles
Leg Altitude: 1200 feet to 5300 Feet (VHS 800 FPM)

As you could see from the transition of ice to mud to water, this glacier is unique in that it "melts" rather than "calves" (or breaks off ice). You'll see quite a difference when, later today we'll fly over the foot of the LeConte glacier which calves.

The glacier ahead looks like a wide highway, with a gentle slope and basically smooth features. We will be climbing to about 6000 feet to reach Snow Dog Camp. It is 21 miles from the foot of the glacier to the summit where Snow Dog Camp resides.

You are welcome to land on the ice and experience walking on a real glacier. There is hot coffee in the tent, or on a nice day you might want to just sit at the picnic table while your pilot drops supplies for the people staying here.

As we are climbing the glacier, let me tell you an interesting story about this area.

In 1900, the first documented account of the legendary devil creatures was written by Harry D. Colp. Harry Colp and three of his prospecting friends who are simply known as Charlie, John, and Fred, were staying in Wrangell, Alaska. As the story goes, Charlie received word from a native local of an area to mine for gold.

He told me to go up to Thomas Bay* and camp on Patterson River on the right side, travel upriver for about eight miles and then turn to the high mountains, and after traveling about a mile and a half, I would find a lake shaped like a half-moon.

Charlie went to check out the native man's story of the gold that was to be found in the mountains in May 1900. By the time he returned, June 1900, he arrived without a coat or his hat, and his canoe was empty, except for a large piece of quartz.

Charlie claimed to have arrived in Thomas Bay, but couldn't find the half-moon shaped lake. Instead he spent some time off an 'S' shaped lake (actually called Ess Lake). He claimed that the surrounding area seemed oddly void of life. There were no squirrels, no birds, etc. Wanting to get his bearings after he found his large chunk of quartz, he climbed to the top of a ridge. From there he could spot Frederick Sound, Cape of the Straight Light, the point of Vanderput Spit (Point Vanderput), and Sukhoi Island from the mouth of Wrangell Narrows. Behind the ridge, Charlie finally spotted the half-moon shaped lake, which is where the Patterson Glacier turns into a lake that turns into Patterson River.

It was from this point that Charlie claims that a swarm of devil creatures were making their way up the ridge from the half-moon shaped lake. Charlie claimed that he barely managed to outrun the strange creatures. He received several scratches along his back from the creatures. He never returned to the area.

The people who have had encounters with these creatures seem to go into hysterics and are usually deemed 'temporarily insane'. The creatures have always been described as looking neither like man or monkey, but covered with coarse hair and oozing sores. They are foul smelling. They are about four feet tall and have claw-like fingers.

In 1925, a trapper reported losing a dog in the hills there, but finding strange tracks, with the hind feet resembling a cross between a bear's and a human's footprints. The trapper returned later to find the traps, he had hastily left, some were sprung, some weren't. Some were destroyed. He took out to try and find his dog, and was never seen again.

... As we approach the Snow Dog Camp, we slow our speed to landing speed with flaps and maintain an altitude of 5300 feet. The GPS will guide us to the snow runway and you will have about 100 feet to drop to land.

NOTAM: If you are not going to land, raise your altitude to 6000 feet to over fly the Camp and continue following the GPS.

Leg: Baird Glacier to LeConte Glacier
Initial Course: 160 (Follow the Glacier)
Leg Distance: 10 Miles
Leg Altitude:
7200 Feet

If you landed at Snow Dog Camp, then take off on the runway heading and turn to 160 degrees (port) to pick up the GPS track heading to the LeConte Glacier.

Increase your altitude to 7200 feet. When you see the view in the picture below, make a turn to port, then back to starboard. From this point forward you can begin reducing altitude, you are now over the LeConte Glacier.

Leg: LeConte Glacier to LeConte Bay
Initial Course: 175
Leg Distance: 12 Miles
Leg Altitude:
Descending from 7200 to 1200 feet

Continue to reduce altitude staying about 1200 to 1800 feet above the glacier. 600 fpm down is a good descent rate., when we get to LeConte Bay, you will want to be at 1200 feet so you can see the calving ice burgs in the beautiful blue bay.

Watch for the bay to show up to starboard, and the glacier is steep there, meaning you can go lower quicker to enjoy a view of the bay. Make your turn out over LeConte bay. Notice the icebergs, being a steeper glacier, this one "calves" rather than "melts."

Leg: LeConte Bay to Indian Point
Initial Course: 205 (Follow the bay)
Leg Distance: 7.5 Miles
Leg Altitude: 1200 Feet

Follow LeConte Bay to Indian Point on Frederick Sound. The distance is about 8 miles and you will see many icebergs along the way. The bay curves from port to starboard and back, just continue to follow the bay to a spit of land coming out from the starboard side. This is Indian Point. You will turn to starboard at Indian Point staying just off the coast.

LeConte Glacier Bay in Alaska is a 12 mile-long fjord carved out of the coastal mountain range by glaciers over the course of thousands of years. LeConte Glacier is North America's southern most tidewater glacier. Harbor Seals are viewed here on the icebergs "sunning" themselves, often up to 400 on one berg. Actually, they use LeConte Bay as their breeding, birthing and rearing area.

The 19th-century naturalist John Muir recommended to Lt. Commander C. M. Thomas, who was mapping Alaska for the US Coast & Geodetic Survey, that the bay and glacier be named for his friend, Joseph LeConte, a geologist at the University of California at Berkeley.

In 1995 LeConte Glacier suddenly shrank, retreating a half-mile in five months. In 1998, it retreated nearly one mile more and thus became one of the fastest-retreating glaciers in the world, Its forward flow rate in 1998 was determined to be 81 feet per day, but it retreated faster than its flow rate because of extremely active calving.

LeConte Glacier's ice extends 500 to 700 feet below the surface of LeConte Bay. This leads to submarine calving, producing what are locally called shooters, icebergs that rise rapidly to the surface as far out as 1000 feet from the glacier's face. Surface terminus height above sea level averages 150 to 200 feet

Leg: Indian Point to the McDonald Islands
Initial Course: 283
Leg Distance: 11 Miles
Leg Altitude: 1200 Feet

Follow the starboard shoreline until you come to the tiny McDonald Islands.

Leg: McDonald Islands to Petersburg PAPG
Initial Course: 212
Leg Distance: 4.7 Miles
Leg Altitude: 1200 feet to approach altitude

At the McDonald Islands, turn to port to 212 and set up for your approach at Peters berg PAWG 4.7 miles ahead.

We hope you enjoyed the Baird-LeConte Glacier tour and your short stay at the top of the world at the Snow Dog Camp. Welcome back.