Wilderness and Alaska, the two go hand in hand and I wanted to experience both.
My travels took me to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula, which seemed like the perfect location to be at one with nature and the aforementioned wilderness. Kayaks loaded, we settle back aboard the ‘Michael A’ boat and head out through Resurrection Bay, paying a brief visit to the Gulf of Alaska before heading into the more sheltered waters of Aialik Bay. Dall porpoise stayed with us for much of the 2 hour trip, playing at the bow of the boat, making for a pleasant distraction from the occasionally choppy waters. Sea lions sunbathed, soaking up the sun on rocks around the bay, puffins flew fast and low to the water past the boat as we progressed onto Holgate Arm, Aialik Bay.
We unload the kayaks, camping gear, equipment and food on the pebbled beach of Holgate Arm, blue skies above and calm waters making for near perfect conditions. Within no time we are on the water, paddling our double kayak toward Holgate Glacier. We soon felt alone, very small, with vast waters all around, mountains ranges above and what felt like no one for miles, even though our guide was only 10 feet away, he was very quiet…
Whilst appreciating the sheer size of Holgate Glacier, we we’re distracted by something breaking the water’s surface, humpback whales. Incredible. A little daunting too. This continued throughout the day, usually hearing the release of air, followed by a spray of water and the hump of the whale.
Arriving at Pedersen Easement, we navigate the icy waterways to Pedersen Glacier. However, before it comes into sight a black bear appears on the bank, maybe 20 feet from us! Speechless and petrified at the same time I freeze, no pun intended and watch it in amazement as the bear forages through the grassland, apparently oblivious to us. We float around, watching, appreciating my first wild black bear, taking photos and being ready to paddle like crazy if required!
We continue through the icy highway, onward to Pedersen Glacier, before heading back to the easement, where we would spend the night. As was becoming quite common in a very unique way, we we’re distracted once again, this time by sea otters. They started to appear in numbers, obviously quite inquisitive yet still keeping their distance. Following us from a distance, appearing occasionally, apparently relaxed, chilling (again, no pun intended!) on their backs, watching. I’ve never seen anyone, either human or animal look more relaxed and satisfied.
The kayaks docked, the tent pitched and food stored safely within the bear box, which was worryingly beat up, we head to the beach to enjoy the sunset and a much needed coffee. The black bear, spotted earlier from the kayak, reappears across the water making for a restless night in the tent. The bear spray really didn’t reassure me. I foraged for a couple of hefty looking rocks, which stayed with me throughout the night, again doing little to bring sleep but nevertheless making me feel a little more ‘prepared’?! I awake and whistle my way to the toilet, aka the woods, hoping not to startle a bear whilst blurry eyed, having just woke up.
Breakfast on the beach, watching more sea otters watch us, kayaks loaded, we head off toward Aialik Glacier. We spot sea lions and seals on-route, more humpback whales and more sea otters. The sheer numbers of wildlife in the Kenai Peninsula is incredible, you really do feel surrounded. We gaze at Aialik Glacier, finding it hard to appreciate how big it really is when it’s surrounded by nothing but mountains and vast waters, everything looks so small in comparison. Paddling across the bay, we arrive at Abra Bay, weaving our way around the coast, greeted with waterfalls and yet more wildlife, this time a very curious seal following us.
We pull up on a pebbled beach, bring the kayak ashore and settle down on a rock reflecting on our incredible two days of wilderness and wildlife. Our boat arrives and before we know it we are back among civilisation in Resurrection Bay. I settle down into a comfy chair with a view over the bay, order a homemade muffin and lot’s of sugary goodies whilst reflecting. The one stand out was the feeling of being overwhelmed and ever so small, almost insignificant, amongst the vastness of the wilderness which is the Kenai Peninsula. It really does put things into perspective.