DNR advises safety precautions before water recreation after kayakers escape calving glacier unscathed

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Many tourists are spending time in Alaska this summer for what some - such as Andrew Hooper and Josh Bastyr - consider the "experience of a lifetime."

While touring the area new Spencer Glacier this week, that's exactly what those two got, escaping a calving glacier without any injuries and catching the whole thing on camera.

"We just mulling around, checking it out," Bastyr said. "And then we started hearing the big shotgun sound, water splashing, the calving, just to the side of us."

A calm kayaking excursion quickly turned terrifying for the two tourists, with a large section of the glacier crumbling into the water before their eyes and sending waves of water toward their kayaks.

"It's a good warning for everybody," said DNR Park Specialist Annie Grenier, "just to give it some space."

While capturing such a sight on camera isn't a common occurrence, people exploring Alaska on their own is nearly a constant.

Unfortunately, fatalities happen too, especially when safety precautions aren't taken. So, no matter who you're with, or - though advised against it - going alone, the pros say there are certain things you should always do, especially when hitting the water around some of Alaska's beautiful remote areas.

"Making sure you have all those emergency communication devices," Grenier said, "making sure you have a life jacket on, that you've filed a float plan - so make sure someone knows where you're going and when you plan on coming back.

"That water has to move somewhere," she said, "and typically it's toward you and away from that glacier."

Thankfully, in this case, the kayakers were far enough away and prepared appropriately so that they didn't sustain injuries.

"We wouldn't do it again," Hooper said. "We don't recommend it - it is a 'do not do' story."

Still, both are grateful to have made it out unscathed.

"We're fortunate enough to have survived it," Hooper said, "and now we have a pretty cool story to tell."

Fatal cases have resulted in incidents involving glaciers recently: Just a few weeks ago, three tourists were killed after reportedly being struck by glacial ice.

The Department of Natural Resources offers free water recreation safety courses if you want some guidance before you head out. There is a class in late August and one in early September already on the schedule.

Click here for more information about the upcoming courses.

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