Note: This post is long, but filled with so much adventure and action that you can’t skip it!
The next part of our trip, we made our way to the southern part of Alaska. Homer, Kenai National Park, Seward, and Whittier are the main destinations along the Gulf of Alaska and we went to them all in a week. This is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever witnessed. The sea, marine lifestyle, mountains, and the silvery grey skies created a peaceful experience. This was probably the most eventful part of the Alaskan part of our trip, that was filled with so many amazing adventures. The whole area is picturesque. All these places had most of the same things in common. Small seaside town, great views, doesn’t look like much is going on, but surprises the heck out of you!
Each of these places boasts incredible views, great seafood and a selection of adventurous activities. Homer was beautiful, we camped right on the water, on the north end of The Homer Spit. The spit is 4.5 miles long, with a few campgrounds, and a cozy seaside town with shops and restaurants. This strip of land is surrounded by water of the Kachemak Bay, and the Kenai Mountain range. This town is a popular fishing town, as well as a tourist destination.
Our next stop was Seward and the Kenai National Park. The Seward port is a popular fishing town, as well as tourist destination. Thrill seekers come here for the number of activities they can try. Kayaking and boat cruises being the most sought out. I was able to go on a little kayaking trip with my parents provided by Miller’s Landing: A locally owned adventure company that takes you on a variety of guided water tours. Our guide took us around Tonsina Beach, a nice forested, secluded area. We were able to paddle around all the rocks, and try sea pickles, which is just seaweed that’s been fermented by the saltwater. There is also a little yurt rental place which is pretty cool. Our guide threw in a little extra treat and took us to Humpy Cove. There you can paddle by the few abandoned and empty cabins hidden among the trees. Continue all the way back and you can see a large waterfall that drops into crystal clear water, and is probably the most fresh water I’ve ever tasted. On the way back from our adventure we were picked up by our water taxi that dropped us off. We were joined by porpoises that played in the waves of the boat. Such an amazing experience.
A little ways outside of Seward is the Kenai Fjords National Park. Hiking and kayaking are the main draws to this scenic wonderland. One of the main attractions is the hike to the Exit Glacier. There are a series of hikes for the length of time and how far up you want to go. This is bear country, so be bear aware! Make sure you have proper footwear and clothing as it is rainy, wet, and cold most of the year. This glacier runs down from the Harding Ice Field which spans the Kenai Mountains. This is a beautiful hike that gets you really close to the glacier. A must see stop on your Alaskan Adventure.
The last stop on this list was Whittier Alaska. There is exactly three ways you can get to Whittier. One by boat, two you can hike in over the mountain pass or three (depending on the lane you are in) wait an hour to go through the multi-purpose train and car tunnel. One tunnel that changes direction of traffic every thirty minutes, except when the train comes, then you wait longer. The cool thought about it is you’re literally driving on train tracks through the base of a mountain going twenty-five miles per hour. When you make it to the other end you see the face of a train waiting on the other side. It’s a little unnerving. Now this small town, and I’m talking really small, doesn’t look like much. It has a good fishing economy and it’s a tourist port for Alaskan cruises, but other than that the activities in the town are pretty non-existent. The real action is out on the water. Now the only reason we even went to Whittier was to catch a ferry to Valdez, AK, but that would have ended up being a really big cost with little reward. So after a few hours of exploring the town and deciding what to do, we found this water taxi/ glacier tour guide called Epic Charters run by Brooke Whip and his wife Christina. It cost about the same as the big one way ferry, but it packed so much more action. We took an eight-hour round-trip boat ride across Port Wells, on the Prince Edward Sound, to the College Fjord.
Spectacular views of glaciers and wildlife. We got up close and personal to the glaciers, and had some fun watching whales, sea otter and sea lions play in the water. We filled up a cooler full of ice that was over ten thousand years old. We learned that the clear ice is the oldest. Our tour guide gave us the full experience and got right up close to the Harvard Glacier. It looked as if we were right next to it, but were still six miles away!
Brooke explained that we perceive things to be smaller and closer than they are. The base of the glacier we were at was the equivalent of a forty-story building, and it gets taller and wider the farther you go back. Just imagine the wave of a collapsing skyscraper. Six miles was the safety zone. This is the moment that I realized how big the world is, and there are larger things out there. So be aware, that there are many small and seemingly boring towns in Alaska, but some of the best adventures are not in plain sight, you have to go on a scavenger hunt. It may not be what you had in mind, but might just be something you didn’t know you were looking for. Until one minute you just decide “what the heck, why not?” and then you’re off on an amazing adventure, experiencing something magnificent.