After our last update, we were on the verge of beginning our next adventure, a three day sea kayaking expedition in Prince William Sound. To get to Whittier, the idyllic isolated town from which we would enter the sound, we passed through a narrow two-and-a-half mile tunnel which provides the only road access. As we emerged into the light on the other side, Rain marveled at the view. Glacier-encrusted mountains rose straight out of the sea as far as the eye could see. After being shuttled into the backcountry with our kayaks and provisions, we set up camp on a small island with views of both Beloit and Blackstone glaciers. Reid led us in the national anthem in honor of the bald eagle perched regally on its nest above our tents. While the rest of us finished setting up camp, Roy and Augusta ventured out to find a fresh water source, returning to rounds of applause with full water bottles. Tomas found another innovative way of providing us with water. He spearheaded a project to fill our empty bear canisters with pieces of glacial ice and melt them in the bright sunlight. That night we enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs around a campfire tended by Conrad, our resident fire master.
The next morning began our serious paddling. Mitchell loved seeing the seals and sea otters that popped their heads out of the water as we approached the massive rivers of ice at the head of the fjord. As we paddled, Tookie marveled at the small ice flows drifting on the tranquil water. We ate lunch and watched from a safe distance as massive ice flows fell from the glacier, before returning back to camp.
The next day we took a quick shuttle ride to Whittier, loaded into the van, and headed for showers and laundry in Anchorage, where we purchased last minute snacks for our whitewater rafting adventure the following day. Rafting the Lion’s Head section of the Matanuska River turned out to be Michela’s highlight. She loved the exhilaration of plowing unharmed through massive waves led by our experienced whitewater guides. Cole turned out to be a champion rafter, remaining stoically seated at the front of the boat even when his fellow rafters temporarily became swimmers.
Rafting left us tired but satisfied. The van ride back to Eagle River was filled with yawns and laughter, as we came ever closer as a group. Tomorrow we will wrap up the trip with a banquet at one of Anchorage’s top restaurants, and make the tearful drive to the airport. They will each board their plane and return home, where you will be greeted with open arms and wonderful tales of adventures in the land of the midnight sun. We will miss each and every one of them.