The highlight of the day (and perhaps the trip) was our kayaking to the Blackstone glacier. Once again, we followed the advice of our Alaska fairy Godmother, Judy White of RaftDenali, who suggested the Alaska Sea Kayakers. It was a truly religious experience as we kayaked through ice flows and visited various glaciers as they calved ice. We paddled around seals and hundreds of arctic birds in cold, steel blue waters. This is a very pricey trip (around $375 each) because you are transported with your kayaks to the glaciers and guided for the day. However, if you can cut corners on other expenses and swing the cost, this is very worth it. It was an experience that neither Jack nor I will forget. The beauty of this place is very hard to describe and should ideally be experienced from inside of a kayaking. While we were dead tired at the end (neither of us are kayakers), we were left in awe of the Prince William Sound and the glaciers.
We arrived at the office at 8:45 to be suited up in protective clothing and given dry bags for an extra set of clothing. I wore just jeans, a tee-shirt and hiking sweater and was fine with the cold due to the thick rubber suit. They supply boots and gloves as well. You will need to bring a hat for the rain. Be sure to bag your belongings and phone. It is a very wet environment with the rain and splashing.
We took a small charter boat to the remote beach where we all unloaded our equipment and kayaks. We were then put through a course on kayaking from what to do if you turn over to properly paddling techniques. Our guide was a wonderful young woman from Gainesville, Florida named Victoria Belser. Victoria is one of many people who came to Alaska and stayed. Jack and I kayaked with a wonderful family of five from Brussels. The father is an Antitrust lawyer and the family lived for a while in Washington. The youngest girl was only eight but did great on the double kayak. We had a great time together. Pete, who owns the company, told me that he thought we would be a terrific fit (particularly since the family had another 16 year old) and he was right. Pete is a great resource not only in planning the trip but suggesting places to stay and eat.
Victoria led us through floating ice to various glaciers, including Blackstone. You can hear the thunderous sound of calving glaciers as you paddle through the waters. The day alternated between a light rain and overcast skies — giving the Sound a misty and enchanting look. After a few hours of kayaking, we pulled over to a rocky beach to explore. When we returned, Victoria had set up a tent and laid out a fantastic lunch of salmon, salmon spread, salads, fruits, cheeses, and other items. It was a real spread and all of us marveled at the feast out in the middle of nowhere. The tend provided relief from the insects and Victoria had hot chocolate, teas, and other drinks.
We then left for a few more hours of kayaking. We often just floated in front of glaciers watching huge hunks of ice fall into the water with thunderous claps. Harbor seals bobbed in the water around us as hundreds of birds, including Gadwalls, Pintails, and American Widgeons. We ended up on another beach awaiting to be picked up and Jack and I hiked inland to a glacier and a roaring waterfall. It was a perfect way to end a perfect day. We were picked up by the small charter boat, which had drinks including some very good Alaskan beer.
Once again, this is not cheap, but it is an experience worth saving for and doing if you can. The combination of Whittier and the Blackstone glacier area was the highlight of the trip for us thus far.
We finished the kayaking in time to make the 7 pm “train” of cars leaving Whittier. From here we go to Girdwood for my speeches and some hiking.