We have had a great week of adventures in Juneau, Alaska and Gustavus, AK/Chichagof Islands. We have been graced by many blue skies and sunny days in Alaska. After everyone arrived safely in Juneau we headed off to the Mendenhall Glacier, with breath taking scenes, and our first glimpse into the last frontier. Our first experiences in Juneau together included seeing this vast glacier, and icebergs floating in the icy water. This was the first of what would be many extraordinary moments on the trip. Our day ended with a delicious meal consisting of tortellini, garlic cream sauce, spinach and sauteed chicken.
The next days were fast moving completing a few more tasks before our sea kayaking adventure. We took small bush planes from Juneau to Gustavus, where we chartered a boat to our drop off at Chichagof Island.
The bush plane ride from Juneau to Gustavus was a highlight for all of us, we took three small planes and Willy rode in the cockpit of one of them. He was eager and excited to get a glimpse of what the pilot sees. We flew over snow capped peaks, with bits of lush green falling in between, along with an icy blue lake tucked away in the high elevation of the mountains.
Once in Gustavus we headed out on our charter boat otherwise known as the “Taz”. Here we saw our first sightings of whales, and not just one but many pods. Our journey began at Idaho Inlet on Chichagof Island. We paddled for the next three days along the forested coastline. Nils set a great example for everyone as the first Leader of the Day, showing decision making styles and communication. We saw the drastic tide line move in and out, and dozens of otters playing about in the water. We were stunned by the amount of salmon jumping in the water.
Our first night cook crew made a delicious pesto pasta dinner and we saw a glimpse of Alec’s cooking skills. Mary Virginia’s eagerness and willingness to assist in all tasks during the sea kayaking helped set the tone for the group.
We felt like we were on a safari kayaking trip in Alaska. Harbor seals began to stealthily follow our boats, dozens of Bald Eagles were perched in the evergreens. Harbor porpoises made an appearance in Mud Bay. We saw multiple whales breach, with one about a hundred feet away. Tucker summed it up for us by saying “this is one of the best experiences I have had since being born”. The highlight for many of us was the mother grizzly bear and her cubs. We saw her on our second night, and she was preoccupied by the field of wild blueberries. Jonah’s curiosity for the natural world around us kept everyone engaged and curious. That evening we had gourmet burritos. Lizzy and Jacob S. learned new skills in the kitchen and followed through by taking a great deal of initiative. Jack’s sense of humor has us all laughing. Jack and Matt named a few of our friends at sea including Pam, and Perry the seals.
Our final night of sea kayaking we had a hearty and delicious red sauce and pasta. This was a perfect meal to end the first section of our trip created by Anna, Jacob K. and Zach.
We are off to Haines, Alaska now, traveling on the Alaskan marine highway on their newly refurbished and freshly painted ferries for the celebration of the 50th year anniversary. Once in Haines we will embark on our next adventure ice climbing.