Club Expedition to Alaska “Getting there and Day 1”
(Whittier to Perry Island, Meares Glacier and Unakwik Inlet and return via Esther Island) “A Temperate Rainforest?”
This clubs` expedition to Prince William Sound is now well established with trips in 2008, 2010, 2013, 2016 and again in 2018. This time we headed out to Perry Island in search of whales and then to Unakwik Inlet to find Meares Glacier. This involved some fairly-long, open crossings; including several in the thick fog. We were stormbound for several days with strong gusty winds and heavy rain.
Every day we encountered something interesting including; humpback whales, black bears, Orca, Steller Sea lions and common harbour seals, deer, sea otters, bald headed eagles and many other sea birds; they seemed to be everywhere. We also paddled up to enormous tide-water glaciers.
Our friend Levi Hogan (below) shuttled us to and from Whittier along with supplying his fleet of high quality UK Sea kayaks.
|Keith Peek.||Mark Pawley||Ruth Edwards||Ian Bell|
|Mike Alter||Andy Garland,||Martin Aldridge|
|Roger Morgan,||Chris Preston||Frankie Annan,||Nikki Aldridge|
The flight out and getting to Whittier
|Levi Hogan from Turnagain Kayaks|
This year, not only did we find a new outfitter, Levi Hogan and Turnagain kayaks but we also found cheaper and more direct flights via Iceland. Consequently, we had a much larger group than normal with 13 of us making the journey out to Anchorage. The flights cost around £800 with short stop over (2hrs) in the new North Atlantic hub of Reykjavik. On the way-out we were all kicking ourselves as we should have booked a couple of days in Iceland instead of flying straight through. We had to endure numerous advertising videos and TV programmes teasing us with the best that Iceland had to offer.
After our midmorning departure from Manchester we arrived in Alaska 12 hours later at 5pm local time and still in daylight. A quick free shuttle to our hotel and we were unpacking in 3 large and spacious rooms. That evening we discovered Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant, just opposite our hotel. Great home cooking. More Photos……….
16th August (Thursday) – Whittier to Decision Point
After rising early and helping ourselves to the buffet breakfast of Waffles, toast, tea or coffee, cereal, muffins, fruit and yogurt we returned to our rooms to pack and get ready.
Levi Hogan from Turnagain Kayaks turned-up exactly on time at 9:00am. We put our bags into the enormous sea kayak trailer (and old car transporter trailer) and headed to Fred Mayers to buy our food. 60 mins later and we had all purchased what we thought would be enough food to keep us nourished for two weeks. We were cooking in groups of two with a petrol stove between us.
Driving along Turnagain Arm on Highway One we saw a group of white beluga whales. We turned up towards Portage Glacier and the old converted railway tunnel which is the only way into Whittier. We only just made it with 2 minutes to spare. We unloaded the boats, gear and food at Lazy Otters slipway and beach which is right next to the ferry terminal. Within 30 minutes Levi was ready to leave taking our airport bags with him in the trailer. We topped up with water and were ready to paddle out into Passage Canal some 45 mins later.
Our first stop was Kittiwake Falls, two tall cascades over steep rock which fall directly into the sound. Nikki tried to go behind the falls, but it was low tide and there were too many rocks in the way. Group photo over we headed out along the north shore marvelling at the scenery and wildlife. Bald Headed eagles peered down at us from nearly every lone pine. Two red sails were spotted in the distance. As we came nearer the turned out to be pedalos / kayaks / sailing Trimaran combinations that are hired out for the day from Whittier. Near Billings Creek we spotted our first bear, it was fishing for Salmon near one of the fresh water streams where they come to breed.
We crossed over to Squirrel Point and checked out the campsite there. Nobody was using it, so it was a possibility if Decision Point was too crowded. We rounded the headland and could see in three directions. The Marine Park campsite at Decision Point was ideal. 4 camp platforms, a shingle beach with access on both sides and excellent views, a steel bear-proof food cache and an outhouse (composting toilet). We cooked on the beach and set up camp on the point and settled down to our first night out in the sound.