MILLENNIALS EXPLORE ALASKA BY KAYAK

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Frolicking in front of Shoup Glacier

The title of this blog might sound like the newest action-packed (with some romance, of course) film coming to a theater near you. I hope you won’t be let down that it is about three different three-day sea kayaking trips that I had the pleasure of guiding here in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Yes, the trips were action-packed and yes, some of the clients probably enjoyed some romance. I’m here to share some of the highlights from these great trips.

This three-day sea kayaking trip starts and finishes in beautiful Valdez, which offers a glorious coastline to paddle. What makes this trip so wonderful? Old-growth forest, rushing waterfalls, colorful wildflowers, juicy Blueberries and Salmonberries to eat, Bald Eagles diving for jumping salmon, serene bays, snow-capped peaks, adorable Sea Otters and curious Harbor Seals, and the holy grail of exploring the magnificently blue and alive Shoup Glacier.

Look at all of those millennials having such a good time! I’m a millennial myself, so it was really fun (and entertaining. . . I mean, we understood the same social references, and could quote the same movies!) to share what I love with people around my own age. It was also inspiring to see my cohort getting out in the world and exploring amazing places, such as Prince William Sound, partaking in an adventure they might not have ever done before, such as an overnight sea kayaking trip near a glacier.

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Waking up to new snow on the mountaintops in Shoup Bay

This string of three trips in a row were with 100% millennials. Gosh, I hope that I’m right about that. If not, I’m in trouble. Although it should definitely be taken as a compliment if I thought that people were younger than they actually are:) People often ask me who are the clients who do camping trips with me. “Really, kind of everybody, except for babies and geriatrics. I’m talking really geriatric. . . like 90’s. I’ve had a handful of 12-year-olds who did amazingly well on long paddle days, as well as a 12-year-old who was the only one of us to sleep through a torrential downpour that lasted for 15 minutes in the middle of the night in a hammock. On a few of my trips the strongest group of paddlers were within the ages of 55-75! For those of you who have gone on a trip with me in Guna Yala, and know what a paddling beast Nemesio is (I always tell every single client that if they can even keep up with Nemesio. . not pass him. . simply keep up with him, that they would be the first to do so). And the 75-year-old was the one in the group to paddle the closest to Nemesio for the entire trip. Very impressive. My first day trip of this season I was in the back of a boat with an 89-year-old woman traveling around Alaska for a couple of months by herself. So, my answer to that question of who are my clients is quite varied. However, these three trips definitely tip the clientele in favor of millennials.

One of the coolest perks of a job that takes you to the same places throughout the season is that you get to see the fascinating changes that occur, especially at such a dynamic environment as a glacier. Glaciers are often where the “adventure-packed” part of a trip occurs. We get to witness the ice shifting and changing. (Below photos) The “after” photo on the right was taken a couple of weeks after the “before” photo on the left. Pretty cool.

So millennials: here’s to you. . . (here’s to us) and your young, energetic professionalism that allows you to travel the world and do awesome things, like a three-day sea kayaking adventure with an equally energetic guide!

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Happy Hour on local hand-picked free range glacial ice:)

TROPICAL PADDLING & YOGA: A MATCH MADE IN PARADISE

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: JANUARY 6 – 14, 2018 CARIBBEAN & PACIFIC OF PANAMA

ALL INCLUSIVE~YOGA~SEA KAYAKING~SUP~SNORKELING~PANAMA CANAL

Book by Sept. 15th for the Early Bird Special! Contact me.

I know, I know. . . summer isn’t over yet! Although, here in Valdez, new snow on the mountaintops greeted us yesterday morning. All the more reason I’ve started daydreaming of colorful hammocks beneath swaying Palm Trees, sipping from coconuts, kayaking in flip flops and a bathing suit, and practicing some nourishing yoga!

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Chillin’ out, relaxin’ all cool. . . on the island of Misdup

September is right around the corner, a time when school starts up again and calendars get filled before you know it. That’s why I’m encouraging you to set aside this week to treat yourself to an adventure in Panama. You might enjoy your fall work days more knowing what you’ve got coming up in January. At least it’ll make the shorter days more tolerable:)

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Treat yourself. . . you deserve it

Not a kayaker? No problem. Been meaning to start doing yoga but wouldn’t know downward-facing dog from warrior pose? No worries. Never left your hometown? Think nothing of it! Newbies and those who are more experienced will find that this trip was created with everyone in mind. After all, there was a time when I sat down in a kayak for the very first time (now I’ve been guiding for 6 years) and did my first downward-facing dog. I will be joined by founder of Yoga Currents, long-time yoga instructor and seasoned kayak guide, Leigh Lubin. We’re here to ensure that everyone who joins us has a spectacular and unforgettable time. It’s time to plan your winter holiday in paradise. What could be better than treating yourself to a nourishing, sunny, tropical get-away? Click here for more info and a detailed trip itinerary.

Why yoga and sea kayaking in Panama together? It’s a match made in tropical heaven. . . they’re perfect for each other. A beautiful retreat on the Pacific side offers tranquility and beauty, an ideal setting to sink in and reap the benefits of a yoga practice. Then we’ll travel to the Caribbean coast, where the San Blas Islands (called Guna Yala) offers us the perfect location for sea kayaking and beach yoga, as this tropical archipelago is comprised of hundreds of palm tree-dotted islands.

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Tropical Paradise, Guna Yala

I’ve been practicing yoga on my own (my active lifestyle of moving every 5 months hasn’t quite allowed for much time in a yoga studio) for only a few years. Like many people, it took me a couple of years to begin to scratch the surface of all of the amazing benefits of yoga, from the physical to the sometimes more subtle emotional and mental ones. Yoga isn’t only something that I love because it feels amazing, but I consider it an important part of my life as a professional kayak guide, a job that is extremely physically demanding. And now that I’ve entered my 30’s it’s become even more important to grow my yoga practice (what I mean is, I ain’t gettin’ any younger!). I spend about half of each year sitting in a kayak, paddling for hours and hours, loading and unloading hundreds of pounds of gear into boats on camping trips, carrying these heavy kayaks and gear up and down docks and beaches, and bending over a lot to assist my guests getting in and out of their kayaks. But I absolutely love what I do and I want to be able to go kayaking when I’m a little old lady, like Ernestina (below left), who thoroughly enjoyed her first time in a kayak! Also noteworthy is the group of 11 women ages 55-75 (right photo), who joined me in the Caribbean for a paddling adventure earlier in 2017. You can bet some of those ladies practice yoga!

Even if a busy day allows for just 10 minutes of stretching, this will have a positive impact on how my body fares as a guide. You’ll be amazed at how good it will make you feel too. It’s important to awaken and enliven the muscles each day, as well as strengthen and lengthen them. I feel stronger and more flexible now than I did as a 20-year old, before I started doing yoga.

Here’s what Leigh has to say about the benefits of yoga, as well as some insight into why practicing yoga for four days prior to going kayaking on our trip will revitalize you and leave you feeling like a better and more open version of yourself:

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Tropical sunset, Guna Yala

Yoga can make the difference between feeling fluid, alive, healthy, connected, and having fun or not. On this retreat we’ll create space in the hips so it’s easier to stay upright in your boat. Tap into your support instead of fighting it! We will strengthen the core and stimulate innate energetic pathways that move supportive energy upwards to sustain you from the inside. We’ll learn to internally float over our pelvis, riding our own inner waves and wind, as we increase shoulder mobility and strength. By the time you get to your kayak you’ll feel stable, fluid, grounded, engaged, and playful. We’ll take those feelings to sea.

During the sea kayaking portion, you’ll enjoy playful white sand beach yoga sessions to stay supple and strong throughout the trip. Yoga and sea kayaking are the perfect opportunities to sink in, revitalize, discover, and connect to yourself and the wonders of the sea!

We’ll also be eating fresh, healthy food on this trip, as well as doing other fun activities, such as standup paddling, snorkeling, hanging with the Guna (the indigenous group who live on the Caribbean islands who I’ve worked with for the past 4 years and who we’ll be visiting), exploring the scenic Casco Viejo (“Old Town”) on the waterfront in Panama City, and visiting the famous Panama Canal. All of these are included in the trip. See you in Panama!

 

AN ODE TO ICE: AN ALASKAN PADDLER’S RESPONSE TO THE MASSIVE ANTARCTIC ICE CALVING

July 12, 2017: I came into the kitchen, still stretching the sleep from my body, to greet my housemate, who announced the news that an iceberg the size of Delaware has broken free from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica. “It’s 2,300 square miles,” he told me.  “It was already floating though, so apparently won’t make global sea levels rise.”

The 2,300 square mile iceberg that broke free from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica          Photo credit: John Sonntag/NASA

I didn’t have much time to chat or research this massive calving event for myself, as I had a trip to Columbia Glacier that day. (Nor is this blog a scientific report on this massive calving event. Refer to the end of my last blog post for links with more information and a video about it.) However, later that afternoon, as I stood atop a hill overlooking the impressive iceberg-filled bay in front of Columbia Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in Prince William Sound, my clients and I reflected on how wondrous a thing it is to witness the incredible natural phenomenon of tons of ice floating in the water right in front of our eyes. “I feel lucky to see so many glaciers in Alaska, especially here [Columbia Bay], where we can witness how drastically the landscape has so recently changed from the retreat of this glacier,” a client mused.  “What an amazing experience to get to paddle around all of this ice!”

The iconic Columbia Glacier, which started a catastrophic retreat in the early 1980’s when it broke free from its’ terminal moraine, (a deposit of land debris -rocks, gravel, sand, clay, boulders- left over from a glacier) is currently about 14 miles further back in the bay from the moraine. For most people that I take sea kayaking in Columbia Bay, they are paddling around icebergs that are grounded on the moraine that were under the glacier in their lifetimes! That always gives them something fascinating to ponder.

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The iconic Columbia Glacier

For most people on this planet, however, their relationship with ice goes no further than what they slip on shuffling to their car in the cold winter months, or what gets plopped into their cocktail glasses at the bar, or lemonade glasses (if they’re under 21, of course). Or maybe they’ve skated across a frozen lake (for all you northerners or Canadians), or sang along to the songs in Frozen (although, I prefer Happy Feet). Or maybe it’s only on a computer screen or spread across the pages of a glossy National Geographic magazine, where they’ve witnessed the myriad blue patterns on icebergs.

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What a beauty! Columbia Bay

I, however, am fortunate enough to return to Columbia Bay, as well as other glaciers in and around Valdez, on a daily basis. This allows me plenty of time to reflect on my own experiences in the wonderful world of ice. And for anyone who has paddled with me, I make it quite evident how much I LOVE ice. On more than a few occasions I have been hurried along by my own clients to stop photographing icebergs so we can continue our paddle:) Visit my “Iceberg Gallery” to get a further glimpse of my love for this beautiful, freezing substance.

Ice, beautiful ice, fills my world on most days. As a sea kayak guide in a part of Alaska that is no stranger to glaciers and iceberg-filled lakes and bays, I get to guide hundreds of clients throughout each season on many of their first experiences seeing, hearing, walking on, kayaking next to, touching, and even tasting ice. Oh, what a joy it is to see the pure delight in their faces when they discover how blue ice can appear, or how exciting it is to see a large iceberg split in half, sending lots of smaller pieces of ice crashing into the water. Many a time I have heard proclamations, even from 5-year-olds, of “this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”

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The face of Shoup Glacier

Check out this video from my YouTube Channel of kayaking in Columbia Bay.

 

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Photographing ice on the moraine in Columbia Bay

Just like life, people pretty quickly pick up on the fact that the ice is constantly changing, never appearing the same for more than a brief moment. That’s why I love paddling around so much. It’s a constant reminder that life is in a state of constant change. And that’s a beautiful thing. You can sit and watch an iceberg melt right in front of your eyes, morphing shape, color and size. You can fill your water bottle underneath a waterfall cascading down from an iceberg. You can hear the popping, sizzling, groaning, and hissing as air releases from air pockets in the ice. It’s an experience not to be missed in this lifetime.

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Peering into an ice chasm at the Valdez Glacier

Well, enough about my love for ice. Here’s a wild idea: come to Alaska and allow me the pleasure of paddling with you around ice, so that you may experience for yourself the wonderful world of frozen water! These people certainly loved it. The Sea Otters and Harbor Seals love it too.

As always, thanks for reading. I’ve just returned from a 3-day Shoup Glacier to Sawmill Bay trip and have a Glacier Island to Columbia Glacier 4-day trip coming up, so stayed tuned for a post about these.

 

A 5-DAY ALASKAN SEA KAYAKING ADVENTURE TO THE FACE OF COLUMBIA GLACIER

Preface: Enjoy this blog about an unforgettable adventure. Stick it out to the end to see my top two all-time favorite icebergs, and find out what finally merited busting out the emergency tequila:)

Photo is so nice, I had to use it twice. Cheers!

For five days in a row I awoke to the sound of two Brits giggling in their tent. That’s right. . . giggling like school children! (I don’t think they’d mind me saying so.) As I lit the stove to boil water for coffee, gazing out over the ice-filled bay in front of Columbia Glacier, I thought giddily to myself, “somewhere along the line I must’ve made a really good decision if this is what I do for my life’s work”!

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Our vessels of choice at our campsite in Columbia Bay

 

Double-bladed adventurers in Columbia Bay

I get to share with wonderful people the most beautiful places in the world using my favorite mode of transportation, sea kayaks. This trip, a five-day kayak and camping expedition starting on the south side of Glacier Island and finishing off with three amazing days exploring the recently-revealed landscape at the face of Columbia Glacier, was one of the best yet! A huge thank you and enthusiastic cheers goes out to my two clients, Rob and Anya, who just happened to squeeze in this kayak adventure amidst their lengthy motorcycle tour starting in Washington. Umm, yea. . . they’re kind of badasses on two wheels. Now they can proudly say they’re badasses with double-bladed paddles.

This is Alaska. . . coastal Alaska, so there’s no shame in saying that we experienced some pretty wet and cold conditions, however this was supplemented with sporadic sightings of what we called the strange yellow orb in the sky. No harm done though, as we equipped and dressed ourselves for the occasion. Anya made some important discoveries that wearing two pairs of wet weather gear is considered a norm. Well, why wouldn’t you wear two pairs of rain pants and two rain jackets? And this is where the impressive amount of giggling came into play. Rob and Anya maintained lively spirits, adventurous attitudes, and senses of humor that would have anyone laughing up a storm in any weather conditions. Yellow orb in the sky or not, the three of us had a blast!

Interestingly, both Rob and Anya were reading accounts of polar expeditions, and even though we might have been in cold and damp conditions, their daily updates of expedition parties having to winter in Polar pack ice, put into perspective how plush we had it. After all, we didn’t have to worry about getting scurvy or having to kill marine mammals to eat. In fact, Anya often commented on my seemingly bottomless “Mary Poppins-esque food bags”, from which I pulled out many a fresh vegetable and Prince William Sound delicacies, such as Sockeye Salmon fillets and Cod. We even ran into such good fortune (literally we ran into my friend’s boat as he was chucking shrimp heads into the water) as to receive the delicious gift of fresh Prawns. Now that was a sweet treat!

Doesn’t get much fresher than this!

I swear, there is a tent under all of those tarps

View from my sleeping bag. . . not bad

Preparing lunch under the strange yellow orb in the sky, Columbia Bay

Mountain Goats, from our kayaks, Columbia Bay

Along with spending time in the kitchen tent stuffing our faces with my delicious homemade meals, and getting warm and dry, we enjoyed many of the things that make a sea kayak expedition in Prince William Sound such a special and unique experience. We delighted in many wildlife sightings, such as a dozen Mountain Goats that we watched from our kayaks in Columbia Bay. We paddled past the Sea Lion haul-out on Glacier Island to enjoy these gregarious creatures, as well as saw lots of Tufted and Horned Puffins flying in and out of the sea caves that they nest in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t snap a photo of the flying birds. And, of course, we saw quite a few Harbor Seals and the adorable Sea Otter.

The grand finale, the show piece, the main exhibit, the pièce de résistance (you get the idea). . . Paddling through ice to land at a very recently-exposed beach (i.e. one year, as the glacier has retreated back up onto land in this area) between two branches of Columbia Glacier to scramble up rocks like Mountain Goats to set foot on the glacier and glimpse a view of the impressively expansive ice field. Run-on sentence? You betcha. Incredible experience that not many people have had nor will have (unless, of course, you book this trip with me)? Absolutely. This was actually my first time exploring this new terrain along with Rob and Anya, which made the excitement level exceptionally high. I’ve been known to get pretty giddy when I’m seeing something for the first time out there.

Standing on Columbia Glacier

That view from the top!

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Recently-exposed landscape at the face of Columbia Glacier

 

Looking back at Columbia Bay from on top of the glacier

Yes, that’s right, we luxuriated in Columbia Glacial Facials.

Gettin’ that baby’s bottom smooth skin

Now, as prefaced, I must share with you my second all-time favorite iceberg that I’ve ever encountered. Want to see my number one? I bet you do. Just look at it. My number one. We happened upon this beautiful piece of ice on the return paddle from the glacier face to camp. Rob and Anya had to pretty much pull me away from this beautiful iceberg.

The only way we could think to celebrate such an exciting day at the face of the largest tidewater glacier in Prince William Sound. . . Bust out the emergency tequila!

CHEERS!

Our fifth and final day, we paddled back down Columbia Bay, enjoying more ice and a waterfall. I will never tire of paddling around ice.

Getting drops on the camera at the waterfall in Heather Bay

The 12′ x 12′ Arctic Oven tent, my home-away-from-home-away-from-home

Well, there you go. How’s that for a memorable trip? After a five-day expedition of any sort most people want to shower, wash clothes, eat, and sleep. Rob and Anya gloriously completed the first three, then were adventurous (and surprisingly awake) enough to cram into the backseat of a car, drive out of town, and assist me in setting up my Arctic Oven, which is a 12′ x 12′ tent with a wood stove in it. Yea, it’s that plush in there. Upon completion of set-up we hauled four lawn chairs into it, cranked the stove, and commenced a giggle-fest about funny American and British terms.  I guess we all say the darndest things. Rob and Anya, you two are always welcome to come party in my vestibule:)

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much for reading. Check out my other blogs about exciting trips in both Alaska and Panama. Stay tuned for the next post. I will be paying homage to the beautiful and mesmerizing ice that I am fortunate enough to see and paddle around day after day. This is my way to commemorate the gigantic iceberg that recently broke free from the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. Read more about this massive iceberg from NPR and NASA. And check out the video from The Guardian.

The massive crack first opened up in the Larsen C ice shelf back in 2014; by the end of last week, a roughly 3-mile sliver of ice was all that connected the iceberg to the shelf.
John Sonntag/NASA

As upset as some people might be from news like this, I grow more motivated and inspired by the opportunities to see ice, to paddle around ice, to photograph ice, and to touch the ice that is in my backyard of Valdez and Prince William Sound, Alaska. I do not take places like Columbia Glacier for granted, and I hope that you too, like Rob and Anya, will make the trip to Alaska to paddle around with me in the splendor of ice.

 

ANOTHER AMAZING SEA KAYAK CAMPING TRIP IN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND, ALASKA

There are lots of waterfalls to see from your kayak

Evan and Katie enjoying the scenery

Greetings! I’ve been busy the past two weeks with lots of paddling (obviously), including two camping trips. This post is about one of them; another sea kayak camping trip with amazing clients, memories and scenery. Thank you to Evan and Katie, who joined me from Fairbanks for a three-day adventure out on Prince William Sound. Experienced backpackers and campers, these two wanted to get more experience in a sea kayak.

We began our trip right from the small boat harbor in Valdez, as Evan and Katie learned how to efficiently pack a sea kayak. We experienced a bit of a headwind for the first couple of hours as we made our way to Shoup Bay. They hung in there and we made it to the Inner Shoup Bay, where a view of Shoup Glacier made our efforts well worth it!

The beautiful Shoup Glacier

We set up camp right in front of the glacier, then hiked up to the face to explore and take a closer look at all the cool features there. Katie had said that all she wanted was to touch the glacier. So, of course, that is what we did! Shoup used to be a tidewater glacier, meaning the face (or terminus) sat in the sea water. The glacier has since retreated onto land again, allowing us the special opportunity to walk around at the face. We found a beautiful cave with a pool of water inside of it, pouring out as a powerful waterfall from underneath the glacier.

Making their way up to touch that glacier!

Exploring the lateral moraine of Shoup Glacier

Although I am missing the photo (I got distracted and forgot), we dined on salmon with a buttery tarragon sauce that I made, with rice and steamed broccoli. There’s no reason not to eat gourmet out there! With a screen tent to keep bugs and inclement weather out, a table and chairs, I feel as if we’re “glamping” out there. Sipping on cocktails and hot drinks from our comfy camp chairs, watching the glacier and snow-capped mountains, I don’t think any of us felt as if we were “roughin’ it” out there! We stayed up as late as we could (not very), laughing and telling our best adventure stories.

Day two we bid farewell to Shoup Glacier and paddled to our next destination, the lovely and serene Sawmill Bay. The coastline from Shoup to Sawmill is one of the prettiest in the port of Valdez, with many cascading waterfalls pouring thousands of feet from the glaciers above. We beat the afternoon winds through the Valdez Narrows and made it into Sawmill Bay earlier than expected, allowing us more time to relax and enjoy a short hike along the clear stream next to our campsite.

There are many waterfalls between Shoup and Sawmill Bays

Our third and final morning, we dined on a special culinary creation of S’mores Pancakes! We were glamping, after all. Katie loves s’mores (in fact, she carried her own stash on the trip), so I enjoyed whipping up this special breakfast that I had never made before. I think I’ll be making those again:) We then explored the rest of Sawmill Bay, enjoying the tranquility of floating in the calm waters, surrounded by mountains and watching wildlife from our boats. We saw lots of Bald Eagles being chased by brave Seagulls, as well as a Hooded Merganser with her following of eight little chicks. And Katie even got to enjoy a few hours of the freedom of solo paddling! It brought me a lot of joy to see her so excited to be in her own boat, able to go wherever she pleased. Perhaps two single kayaks are in the future for Evan and Katie:)

So cheers to another wonderful sea kayak camping trip in Prince William Sound. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more exciting blogs from ileneinakayak. The next one (in a few days) will be about the other sea kayak camping trip that I most recently returned from; a five-day adventure from Glacier Island all the way up to the face of Columbia Glacier with two hilarious San Franciscan Brits. You won’t want to miss that one! Here’s a sneak peak of Rob and Anya standing on the mighty Columbia Glacier (a place where not many have stood before), looking south into Columbia Bay. They look pretty happy!

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SPACE AVAILABLE ON SEA KAYAK CAMPING TRIP IN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND, ALASKA: SEE COLUMBIA GLACIER FACE!

JUNE 26TH – 30TH SPACE STILL AVAILABLE ON A 5-DAY SEA KAYAK CAMPING TRIP.  Join me with Anadyr Adventures on this unforgettable adventure as we paddle the rugged coastline of Glacier Island and to the face of Columbia Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Highlights of this new itinerary are what makes this part of Alaska so exceptional and memorable; wildlife, rugged coastline, beautiful beaches with amazing views, sea caves, paddling amongst towering icebergs, remote campsites, and seeing Columbia Glacier up-close.

The face of Columbia Glacier

Iceberg paddling in Columbia Bay

Sea Otter in Columbia Bay

Beautiful campsite

Sea Lion, Glacier Island

Puffins on Glacier Island

I will cook delicious and nutritious meals for you, as well as provide all of the camping and paddling equipment that you will need to stay comfortable, warm and dry out there. You’ll feel like you’re “glamping” in the Alaskan wilderness! That’s right. . . we’ll bring along a table and chairs! You won’t be roughin’ it too much.

Cooking up some fresh Salmon

This trip is just around the corner, so contact me today for prices and more info!

FIRST SEA KAYAK CAMPING TRIP OF THE SEASON IN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND, ALASKA

Hello everybody! This blog is about the first camping trip of the season that I had the pleasure of guiding for Anadyr Adventures. Enjoy.

What do you do when Alaska throws almost every type of weather at you during a four-day camping trip? Let me tell you. . . You see the beauty in both the driving rain with gusts of wind, and the blue skies dappled with sunshine. You maintain a cheerful attitude, hunker down and discuss the great books you’ve read, eat delicious hot meals, drink a lot of tea, and laugh a lot!

A huge thanks goes out to Siobhan (pictured above, leaping for joy for a much-deserved sunny day in Columbia Bay), who travelled all the way from Melbourne, Australia, to join me on a sea kayak adventure. She was everything that a guide wishes for in a client and paddling partner; helpful, cheerful, funny, adventuresome, and with a “ready to rally” attitude.

Approaching the face of Shoup Glacier

Paddling past the Black-Legged Kittiwake rookery in Shoup Bay

With a less-than-ideal weather forecast for the first day of our trip, we altered the itinerary to include a night at Shoup Glacier, what we called our “bonus glacier”. We endured a bit of rain that day as we paddled to the face of this beautiful blue glacier, then enjoyed a lovely evening as the skies cleared to reveal new snow on the mountaintops.

Beautiful blue face of Shoup Glacier

Clearing skies in Shoup Bay

The previous year a young whale had washed ashore in Shoup Bay, which now offers us a unique opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with the carcass of this massive creature.

Day two we awoke to blue skies, sunshine, and a gorgeous reflection. Shoup Glacier sure does look pretty with these pleasing conditions.

What a gift of a day! We continued on to the magical south side of Glacier Island, where calm seas and light winds allowed us to explore sea caves and enjoy time at the Sea Lion haul-out, where hundreds of these gregarious animals hang out and approach our boat in playful curiosity.

Bald Eagle

We pushed on and made a four-mile crossing from Glacier Island to the south end of Heather Bay, which is right next to Columbia Bay. Tired from an exciting and full day we set up camp and enjoyed the last bit of no precipitation for a little while, as the next day we endured the brunt of a windy rainstorm. Hey, this is coastal Alaska after all!

I don’t have any photo evidence from this wet day, however Siobhan and I still rallied, put on lots of warm clothing, stuffed ourselves with hot food and drinks, and set out into the wind and rain to check out the icebergs in Columbia Bay. We paddled up Heather Bay, seeking shelter in Heather Islands’ protected coves. It took a couple of hours, but we finally managed to land on the moraine, which divides Heather and Columbia Bays. This long stretch of land is the deposit of rock, gravel, and sand left over from when this largest of tidewater glaciers in Prince William Sound (tidewater meaning the face of the glacier is sitting in the ocean) had pushed its’ face (or terminus) to this point in the bay. The glacier has since retreated off of the moraine, leaving a great place for walking, as icebergs often ground themselves in the shallows here.

Lots of ice grounded on the moraine (on a sunny day)

We returned to our camp, dried out, filled up with halibut fish tacos, and endured a bit more rainy weather from inside of our dry tents. It’s a great thing we both had good books! Having experienced all of that rain, we were overjoyed to wake up the last morning to clearing skies, which turned into a glorious sunny day. We had the rest of this beautiful day to return to Columbia Bay and paddle amongst the towering icebergs.

Siobhan is one of the lucky ones to get to see ice in both grey and sunny skies. There is a unique, dramatic blue to the ice with a grey background. And with sunny skies. . . Well, it’s simply magnificent. We must have repeated a hundred times how lucky we felt for this day.

Iceberg reflected in Columbia Bay

What a trip, filled with so many highlights. I look forward to sharing more camping trip experiences with you, as well as lots of other Alaskan adventures. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more on the blog. Don’t forget to check out all of the wonderful trip opportunities that Ileneinakayak has to offer. Contact me and I’ll help make your Alaska and Panama dreams come true!

Tomorrow I will be preparing for a three-day sea kayaking and camping trip here in Prince William Sound, Alaska. We’ll be paddling in the serene Sawmill Bay and to the beautiful Shoup Glacier. I’m excited to get back out on the water. You can look forward to a blog post about that trip next week. Take care everybody!

Your guide!