Day 16 7/22/12 Sea kayaking through glaciers!
The previous night brought rain and more rain. I had to pack stuff up wet and put it away so i could make the 8am depature date for kayaking. The weather was still cloudy and the forecast didnt look much better. I knew it wouldnt be the best day for going out, but didnt get the opportuntity to go to Valdez just any old day. Before i left the campground i talked to another biker ther from Missouri. He had pulled a motorcycle camper trailer up from St Louis on his Road Star 1300 with his wife on the bike too. That motor got a workout thats for sure.
We left Valdez and went west for about an hour on a water taxi. The guide was originally from Wisconson. He did kayak tour in Alaska in the summer and the Carribean in the winter. Not a bad idea. There were 5 other people there, a father and son from Tasmania, touring Alaska, a young coupel from Omaha on their honeymoon, and a dude from germany. I was lucky enough to get a double kayak with the german guy. He hadnt kayaked much before, so i jumped in the back(i've gone quite a bit). We toured the shoreline for a while, going in and out of streams, bay, then we went through the glacier field. Stopped on the bank and walked through them for a while. When the tide goes out, the ice chunks rest on the shore, if they are close enough. I got to walk through a field full of ice chunks in July, when it was around 50 degrees. The Columbia glacier would have been visible, if not for the fog. Thats 2 things ive missed due to clouds/fog(McKinley too).
Kayaking with a complete stranger proved to be somewhat of a challenge. Previously experience has taught me to paddle in sync in order to avoid hitting each other's paddles. This guy didnt get that memo. He would make long stroke on one side of the kayak with the double paddle, then stop for a second, look at the other side, then power through the other side. I found this to be somewhat frustrating, i prefer to alternate side to side with no hesitation, just smooth transitions. I guess it didnt matter that much, we werent racing. It was really cool to go through hundreds of ice chunks up to house sized.
The guide provided these mitten-like covering that went over the paddle handle, but when its 45-50 degrees out and the water is closer to freezing, once you hands get wet, they dont really warm back up. I had my ski gloves along, but once they were wet, i didnt bother with them anymore. We were out in the kayaks about 6-7 hours. That was more than enough for me. If it had been 60 and sunny, i would have wanted to stay out all day. Maybe next time.
The rain was still coming down a little back in Valdez, so i checked the weather, and it wasnt going to let up that day. I got the cheapest hotel i could find in town. Only $90, but better than taking off in the cold and rain with wet clothes. My ski gloves just werent doing the trick, i found some orange insulated rubber gloves for $18 in an outdoor store and some handwarmers for the next day. I ate at a burger at a local restaurant and then went to buy some groceries at the grocery store, where i met a guy from Cody, Wy in a camper. I told him i had rode through a couple weeks prior to today. After that i went back to my hotel and started drying out clothes
A sea lion napping. How he got up there i have no idea.
A whale we saw on the way out to the kayak spot.
Clear as ice!
Not so clear.
Nothing like Some authentic Alaskan food in Valdez.