Before I arrived in Alaska, I had never flown in a bush plane, packrafted, or camped around brown bears. I knocked out all of those firsts on a three-day, 45-mile trip through Wrangell-St. Elias, the state’s largest national park. On the first day, our plan was to paddle across Nizina Lake to connect with the Nizina River. After the plane left us, we paddled through a maze of icebergs, covering 2 or 3 miles before making camp near the rocky shore.
Not long after, a biting crack broke the stillness, and a hunk of ice fell from the glacier about 200 yards away. For hours, the glacier calved blocks, sending 3-foot-tall waves crashing onto the beach as chunks the size of truck tires washed up all around us. The excitement of that first night overshadowed my nerves for the rest of the trip. I used several headlamps to light this bit of glacier and another piece of giant ice as my tripod for this shot.