We just completed the final leg of our amazing journey together: sea kayaking! We prepared for our trip on Independence Day in Whittier, a tiny coastal town on the Prince William Sound. It is only accessible by a tunnel that was blasted through a mountain over six decades ago. We packed all of our clothing into dry bags and our food into bear cans before sitting down to an American-themed dinner extravaganza. Hannah brought us a slice of Southern cookin’ – pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans and macaroni and cheese. We topped it off with apple pie and red, white and blue frosted donuts.
The following morning, we set out in a chartered boat that carried us, along with our kayaks and gear, to Applegate Spit Island and bid us adieu. We loaded up our double boats and departed, excited for the voyage ahead. Unfortunately, we were not lucky with regard to weather during the beginning of our trip. We were met with rain the first two days and nights. The inclement weather might have hindered the average group, but our students charged ahead undaunted. As always, Matt kept all of our spirits high by leading us in every song under the sun. As a group, we became very efficient at setting up tents, tarps and a camp kitchen in wet conditions. The group demonstrated superior teamwork, impressing us with their ever willingness to lend a hand.
The rain broke on the third day at the absolute perfect time. We had just turned into Blackstone Bay to start heading toward our campsite. All at once, the sky cleared and the water changed color. Marie’s eyes lit up as our first glacier came into view, exclaiming at its magnificent beauty. To top it off, Gennie and Cristina spotted a whale, which Cristina identified as a Humpback. Rejuvenated by our change of luck, we decided to push onto the spectacular campsite on Willard Island. Sam, our strongest paddler, led the charge ahead. We followed blue skies to camp, where we nestled our tents beneath an awe-inspiring vista of multiple tidal glaciers and vowed to stay for two nights. Brianna led an inspirational evening circle that allowed us to open up more to each other and become even closer.
Under Ryan’s leadership, we enjoyed a leisurely paddle out of Blackstone Bay. During lunch, we were graced with the presence of yet another humpback whale and a few seals. We even decided to venture into the glacial waters for a swim. We spent our final night in the backcountry at a gorgeous campsite in Shotgun Cove. We reminisced about our trip and lamented our near parting. Morgan made a spontaneous and extremely decadent dessert that put smiles on all of our faces as we lay to rest.
We ended our adventure in a way that seemed most fitting for our group of adventurers: paddling against a strong headwind. Julia paddled like a total champ as she triumphantly neared the shores of Whittier. We arrived exhausted, feeling happy and accomplished.
We then made the journey back to Anchorage, which takes us to the present. We will spend our last night together having a blast as we always do and reflecting on our time as the family we have grown to be. We will celebrate this milestone of a trip at our final banquet tomorrow before heading to the airport to say goodbye to one another.
Us leaders are not quite ready to have your kids leave. It has been the most incredible trip any of us has ever led and we have them to thank.
Have a great rest of your summer!!!