Alaskan Adventure: Discovering Life in Destination Valdez
I visited Valdez in 2009 while on an adventure trip with my good friend Sue. We had just completed a five day Glacier trek and now we are about to embark on a 4 day camping and kayaking trip through the Prince William Sound. Now don't get the wrong idea, I will tell you straight up, Sue and I are not young fit adventurous people! Nope in fact we are on this amazing month long adventure in Alaska to celebrate Sue's 50th birthday! Years of being wives and mothers we now have decided to step out beyond our box and discover life! Guess most people would call this ‘mid life crisis' I call it living the next chapter of my life!
I'm excited and apprehensive the night before we embark on this trip as it is very different to what we are used to. We kayak at home in the calm waters of Perth but this is Alaska and I can't help but feel a little daunted by it all. We meet our guide Sam and another lady Jen from Boston. Let the adventures begin!
We spent the first day paddling around Glacier Island. The water is so calm and beautiful. The scenery is amazing! Nothing like I have ever seen before! There are many small caves where a multitude of birds are nesting including puffins. What funny looking creatures. They look like someone has patched work quilted them their beaks and feet are bright orange like someone has dipped them in a pot of paint. As we paddled along we were joined by some very curious sea lions. Too curious as they popped their heads up out of the water right next to our kayaks, jumping, flipping in front of us. Bit worried they would flip us right out of our kayaks! In the distance we could see the snorting of the whales. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for us they were quite a distance away.
After paddling for awhile we pull ashore on Glacier Island and set up camp on the beach. The beaches here are not like the ones at home. They are all stones, Surprisingly very comfy! Like sleeping on a bean bag!
Sam cooked us a fabulous dinner of local fish, halibut, and we spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other better around the campfire. The perfect way to end the perfect day.
I awoke listening to the gentle sound of water lapping the shore. The sound is so peaceful and beautiful. What a fantastic way to wake up. I have no idea what the time is as the sun never really sets in Alaska in the summer quite strange.
Today is very overcast and drizzly. We paddled for a while and then we came across this beach with a lot of Sea lions on it. I have never in my life seen so many sea lions all in the same spot. I feel like I'm watching a National Geographic show. The noise! It is so loud as the young males are all trying to claim their place by bellowing at each other while banging their chest together. Typical males, no matter what species we talk about they all seem to feel the need to puff out their chests, all for the sake of impressing the girl. We watched them for awhile before moving on.
We stop for lunch on a small beach and while exploring the beach Sam comes racing up with a grin from ear to ear! He thinks he found Gold! He shows us a few rocks he found and sure enough looks like Gold! So we spend the next hour hunting for gold. It was fun and exciting as the gold fever takes hold of us, but unfortunately we have to move on to our next camp ground. Keeping a few rocks we found we paddle away laughing at ourselves and the fact we all fell for the Gold Fever!
To get to the next camp ground we need to do a 4 mile crossing. This was not easy. As it was afternoon the sea had become a bit chopping and the wind had picked up as well, but we pushed on and made it to camp. Another fantastic dinner from Sam, this time it was Salmon that he had caught. It's a great way to end the day.
Today we paddle into Columbia Bay past Heather Island through the huge ice bergs. As we paddle towards Columbia Glacier we can start to feel the air getting a bit cooler and the water has small ice cubes bobbing around in it. It is a bit like paddling in glass of soft drink with ice cubes. We get closer to the glacier those ice cubes turn into ice blocks, then into ice boulders. The feeling I'm getting now is better than when I was a kid on Christmas morning when I'm about to open my gifts from Santa. The smile on my face just won't go away.
We stop for lunch on a moraine that is surrounded by Ice bergs. This is incredible and so hard to believe I'm actually here. Are you sure I'm not in a National Geographic show? We then paddle through the maze of big bergs. The colours that they give off are simply stunning. Their shapes are all so unique. It's very daunting as they tower over you while you try to navigate your way through them. This is one hell of an experience I will never forget. Ever.
Unfortunately it's getting late and as we paddle away you can hear the sounds of the bergs hissing and cracking. They sound like they are saying goodbye to us, then every now and then there would be the angry sound of thunder! That is the big bergs flipping over. such an intense sound.
Our last night here before we head back to Valdez. Sad as we really would like to keep going. We have a roaring campfire with another fabulous dinner. Really don't want this to end.
The weather today is not so good but we can't complain. We spend more time travelling through the huge ice bergs and even though we were there yesterday it feels like we were in another place as it has all changed. Before we head back to Valdez we paddle around Emerald Cove. Maybe they call it this as the water is the colour of emerald. The day was drizzly but the water was so calm it was like a mill pond. The mountains reflecting perfectly like a mirror image. The calmness was breathtaking and I really don't want it to end. I know that one adventure ends so another begins, but can I have a bit more of this adventure. Please.....
Michelle is passionate about all things creative and can often be found in her studio overlooking the ocean, where she is either working on her next art exhibition, teaching students or writing.http://www.michelleryan.com.au/