-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor
Nine of us (Mary, Lois, Kirk, Gary, Debbie, Miki, Mark, Sheri, and I) ventured to Alaska in June of 2018, and Kayaked Blackstone Bay in the Prince William Sound for four days. Alaska Sea Kayakers was the outfitter, and our guides Victor and Cornelius were great. Victor is a very good cook, and really spoiled us. This bay has 7 glaciers, steep walls, and several waterfalls, making it one of the most popular places to kayak in Alaska. We were awe-struck by the beauty.
In Alaska, the rain does not stop most activities. Only high winds can do that. We had both on our first day, so we were shuttled in by boat. When the wind died down, we kayaked toward the head of the bay and saw four glaciers, waterfalls, and many small icebergs, called “Growlers”, which are not more than 3 feet high from the sea surface.
On our 17 mile paddle back to Whittier on days 3 and 4, we saw several Bald Eagles up close, paddled next to many water falls, and even saw some blue sky and sunshine. At our last campsite a humpback whale was swimming close by for hours, an unexpected “gift” to us from Alaska’s bounty. The following day, as we approached the end of our paddle, we were already wishing it would last longer. That is the magic and wonder of Alaska.
From Whittier, we drove back through the narrow tunnel that is open to vehicle traffic and trains by a tight schedule that allows both to travel safely in each direction. You are actually driving on the train track, with the nagging thought “did they get the schedule right?” We then drove up to Talkeetna, the embarkation point for climbing Denali, the highest peak in North America at 20,310 feet. Our cabins were out in the woods near a 70 sled-dog kennel, with an occasional howling of the dogs sounding like wolfs. That was haunting, but very cool!
The next day we boarded a DeHavilland Turbine Otter and flew along the south side of Denali, landing on a glacier just under the cloud cover. That was one of the most thrilling experiences for all who took the flight, and one we will never forget. Our Alaska trip was amazing, with wonderful experiences (like seeing a moose up close), and we became good friends with lasting shared memories of a real adventure.