Greetings from Alaska!
After a long day of flights & traveling, everyone in our group arrived safely at the airport, and we headed to our first campsite, Eagle River, which was just a few miles outside of Anchorage. On the way there, we passed a black bear walking along the side of the road, which sparked everyones interest! Once we arrived, we ate a delicious dinner of tacos and went to bed early even though the excitement of the trip was fresh on everyone’s minds.
We awoke to a beautiful morning and feasted on a front-country breakfast of blueberry pancakes, bacon, & yogurt before piling into the vans and heading into Anchorage for some last minute supplies. Fully prepared, we set off on Highway 1 towards Prince William Sound for our kayaking expedition. This scenic drive took us along the beautiful coast with snow-capped mountains in the background. We drove through a one-way tunnel which passed directly beneath one of the stunning mountains surrounding us. As we exited the tunnel, the sky reappeared and we saw the “Welcome to Whittier” sign. We spent the rest of the day learning about our kayaks and preparing & packing for our 6-day trip through the Barry Arm & Harriman Fjord areas of Prince William Sound.
The good weather continued into the next day as we enjoyed our charter boat ride to Hobo Bay, where we would begin our kayaking expedition. Once there, we took a day-paddle to familiarize ourselves with the boats, our rowing partners, and to get just a glimpse of the amazing areas that surrounded us in the bay. That night we feasted on backcountry pizzas prepared by Sydney and Patrick and enjoyed the views and getting to know our group. It was getting late, but it was hard to realize because of the constant light that is currently present during the summer in Alaska- it never truly gets dark!
After waking up to the awesome sight of a bald eagle flying near our campsite, and a gray whale swimming in the bay just a few yards away from our campsite, we knew we were in for some spectacular sight-seeing! We paddled around Point Doran and into Harriman Fjord, where we were surrounded by gushing waterfalls and gleaming glaciers below towering peaks. Sydney & Henry, in a green tandem kayak named, The Speedy Jalapeño, were two strong paddlers and they carried some extra weight for our group. We all arrived at our ideal campsite, which was also next to a freshwater stream, where Chilly headed up the preparation of pesto-pasta and entertained us with tales of his legendary egg sandwich. That night, a trading-game was created that involved fruit, granola bars, trail mix, and ramen noodles. Marin quickly rose to the top, making trades and securing all of his favorite Ramen noodles, that would become a popular choice later in the week.
We continued up the coast the next day, led by Arie, who successfully guided us through ice flows, near sea otters, and towards a large glacier at the end of the fjord. As we paddled closer to the glacier, Reese sparred us on with her beautiful singing voice, & in return for our efforts, we had a close up encounter with a few seals basking in the sun while lying on an ice flow. Even though it became a little cloudy & the bugs were not as bad as expected, Miles ingeniously protected himself from the ones we encountered by wrapping his face with a bandana and wearing his sunglasses. Matt fully embraced the cold water by jumping in & swimming, which made the rest of the group cold just watching him!
The next day, John led us towards Baker Glacier where we sat in our kayaks and watched massive chunks of ice falling from the glaciers into the water. That night we camped next to Coxe Glacier, where Henry was able to capture a massive calving across the bay on his camera. While eating jambalaya with summer sausage & spices, we enjoyed watching & listening to the calving glaciers across the bay from our campsite. The sound of the ice crackling and falling into the waters below sounded like thunder and echoed off the surrounding mountain walls and across the waters of the bay.
The next morning, Ben led us on the last leg of our journey to Kelly’s Cove. Our charter ferry picked us up the next morning and we rode across the passage back to Whittier. Our first week together as a group was a huge success and we are excited about the rest of our summer expedition in Alaska!
Next up….backpacking in the Talkeetna Wilderness!