SEE YOU SOON VALDEZ, ALASKA: 8 Things a Sea Kayak Guide Gets Excited For (For her 8th Season)

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One of my favorite places on Earth, the face of Columbia Glacier, Prince William Sound

Although currently finishing up the guiding season in Panama, my thoughts are starting to wander north; to a wild land of calving glaciers, glistening icebergs, bobbing Sea Otters, soaring Bald Eagles, enticing ice caves, midnight “sunsets”, and extravagant dance parties with the other Anadyr Adventures sea kayaking guides. They say that a guide’s 8th season is her best!

When writing about Alaska it’s all too easy to enumerate the state’s exceptional qualities, spitting out superlatives left and right. I’ll leave that for David Attenborough (sounds better in his charming accent anyway). Having returned for so many seasons as a sea kayak guide for Anadyr Adventures, it’s the subtle things that I most look forward to; special moments that I wake up excited for. Without further ado and in no particular order: What I am MOST excited about:

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Yipeeeeeeee, Columbia Bay

1) The precise moment at the start of an ocean kayaking tour in Prince William Sound when our water taxi gets “on step” (the boat speeds up enough to climb on top of the water. . and we’re off!). This is almost a daily occurrence for me and my heart still races with anticipatory excitement for what the day will bring. It is the moment that we leave the Valdez small boat harbor behind and we are all about to experience the magic of eastern Prince William Sound.

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Getting “on step” in Prince William Sound

2) We’ve spotted a whale. I repeat a whale has been spotted! Could be a glimmering dorsal fin in the distance. . maybe the dissipating mist from its breath. Maybe a slight disturbance on the surface of the water. Maybe everyone saw it, or just one of us. It’s as if our breathing simultaneously pauses, and heart rates accelerate as we wait in silence for what comes next. . .

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My heart skipped a beat!

3) Client’s reactions (sometimes silent awe, more often gasps of varying intensities) to a slightly elevated vista of the iceberg-dotted Columbia Bay, where we have just been paddling at sea level. After gazing up at majestic icebergs from our kayak seats we are now treated to a vast expanse of ice and water below us. It’s lunchtime and we have crested a hill called The Mojave. During this 5-minute climb I tell the clients No matter what, do not look to your right! (where the view is) Wait until we’re at the top. Trust me, it’s worth it. It always is.

4) The Secret Passage. If I divulge too much info. . well, then it wouldn’t be the Secret Passage, now would it? I’ll allow this much; getting to paddle through this magical passageway in Heather Bay (on a Columbia Glacier day tour or overnight trip)  involves impeccable timing by the guide.

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This is what impeccable timing allows, The Secret Passage

5) Jump shots! After telling people that I am a professional jump-shot photographer, I am met with enthusiastic consent or nervous acquiescence. Either way no one has ever regretted a jump shot. It goes without saying that watching people zoom in on faces in a jump-shot photo elicits just as much delight as the photo itself.

6) When clients walk away and give me the silent treatment. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. You just go ahead and take a moment to take this all in.

7) Paddles in the air. Put your hands where I can see them, ma’am. Gets me every time. Just lights my heart right up:) Sometimes it’s solicited, but it’s the best when it happens naturally.

8) Last, but definitely not least: Celebrating the spectacularly unique and wonderful Anadyr guides (we cleverly call ourselves the Anadamily). The friends and co-workers who I have shared multiple seasons with in Valdez are like family. This family grows every season. Sure, we work hard, but we play even harder. And we dress up and dance to Elvis Crespo’s “Suavemente” (best music video ever). . and we cook fried chicken and kimchi waffles (yea, they’re delicious). . and we party on a deck with the most amazing view in town. . and we gallivant in search of adventure in our breathtaking Valdez. They are the most fun and weirdest (in the best way) group of individuals who I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with, as well as the most open-hearted and open-minded. (Seasonal guides are all a bit weird, aren’t they?) The love, passion, and playfulness that the guides (and staff. . I’m not leaving out the water taxi captains and office staff!) put into each and every kayaking trip to make it memorable for guests are sincerely inspiring. This is what I look forward to.

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Best view in town, Anadyr Adventures

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Cuddle Puddle to keep warm near Denali

Because I’m sure you’re curiosity has been piqued. . .

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Tommy’s famous chicken and kimchi waffles

Well there you have it. Still excited after all these years, and looking forward to what lucky season #8 has in store for me, the Anadamily, and all of my future kayaking guests. If you or someone you know wants to experience the beauty and wonder of Prince William Sound with me or one of the aforementioned wonderful kayaking guides in Valdez, Alaska contact me. I’d love to hear from you. Let me know which one you’d be most excited about!

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Steller Sea Lions as our kayaking chaperones, Glacier Island

Along with day trips to the area’s many glaciers and wildlife viewing hot-spots, there are wilderness lodge, mothership (sailboat), and overnight camping kayaking tours available. Check out the options here, or visit Anadyr Adventures. We also offer ACA accredited (American Canoe Association) Levels 1 and 2 Coastal Kayaking courses, which are a safe and fun way to develop kayaking skills. . in one of the most spectacular places on Earth.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Subscribe and stay tuned for an upcoming blog about my recent 24,000,000 centimeter kayaking expedition in Guna Yala, Panama (aka San Blas Islands) to the Colombian border! Join me and Her Odyssey for a wild Caribbean adventure. You don’t want to miss it!

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JOIN ME IN ALASKA JULY 5-9: Lodge-Based Sea Kayaking Adventures

*If you’re reading this from an email, it looks way better on my website:)*

TWO SPACES AVAILABLE FOR A 5-DAY LODGE-BASED KAYAKING TRIP

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A day trip from the lodge, Paddling past Steller Sea Lions, Glacier Island

Here’s what a client had to say after doing a 7-day lodge trip: “We will treasure our 7 day kayak experience for life. We had so much fun and enjoyed every minute of this experience.”

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Sunset view from the lodge, Prince William Sound


TWO SPACES AVAILABLE FOR A 5-DAY LODGE-BASED KAYAKING TRIP

JULY 5 – 9, 2019        Cost: $2,420/person

Includes: 4 nights accommodations in a wilderness lodge, professionally-cooked meals, water taxis to-and-from the lodge, all kayaking equipment, a professional sea kayak guide (yours truly), a day trip to the south side of Glacier Island, and a day trip to the face of the iconic Columbia Glacier (the largest tidewater glacier in Prince William Sound).

If you’d prefer different dates, or wish to inquire about my other Alaska sea kayaking trips, please contact me! There are lots of camping trips available too. I also have upcoming trips available in Croatia and Panama.


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A day trip from the lodge, Ice in Columbia Bay


You know the saying “If I had a nickel for every time I heard . . . “? Well, I’d be at a whopping $2 if I earned a nickel for every time I’ve been told, “I’d love to join you for a multi-day sea kayaking trip in Alaska. . I just don’t want to camp!” You do the math. That’s actually a lot of people:) Get ready for a grand announcement: You don’t have to camp to enjoy a multi-day sea kayaking trip in Alaska! On the contrary, you can experience the best of coastal Alaska from the incomparable vantage point of a kayak while enjoying all of the luxuries that a wilderness lodge has to offer.


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Find serenity at the lodge

Paddle to your heart’s content in serene coves and the ice-filled Columbia Bay, giggle as Sea Otters twirl past your kayak, explore life in the inter-tidal zone, photograph Bald Eagles soaring overhead, marvel at the snow-capped Chugach Mountains, and gasp as Steller Sea Lions leap out of the water on Glacier Island. All of this. . . and you also get to enjoy hot showers, electricity, a cozy bed, delicious home-cooked meals, a deck with a firepit overlooking a peaceful bay, a wood-fired sauna, plenty of space for relaxation, and even a wood-fired studio space for yoga and other activities (a huge bonus if the weather turns rainy).

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Low tide view from the lodge, Virgin Bay

The first and final days of this lodge trip will be day trips to the south side of Glacier Island, home to a raucous Steller Sea Lion haul-out, and to the face of the iconic Columbia Glacier. The remaining three days will be spent on paddling excursions from the lodge, located in Virgin Bay, which is home to many marine mammals, including Sea Otters and Harbor Seals, as well as numerous bird and duck species.

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A day trip from the lodge, The face of the iconic Columbia Glacier

Thanks for checking this out. Stay connected @ileneinakayak See you next time!