Friday, August 15, 2014

Kayaks on Prince William Sound

Prince William Sound is one of the prettiest places I have ever visited.  And there are lots of ways to see it.  You get a good look when out on fishing charters and even the ferry from Valdez to Whittier can have some spectacular views if the weather is clear. But to get an up close view you might consider sea kayaking.  We did this recently with an outfit called Anadyr Adventures.

You start out at Valdez, after donning some fairly ridiculous looking gear.

We were very lucky with the weather.  They told us they get about one sunny, warm, fog free day a month up there and this was it. So most of us were down to shirtsleeves and life jacket by noon.

You run out in a water taxi, basically a fishing boat with kayak carrying capacity.  Along the way you get some very nice scenery. Here is a small ice berg that had calved off the nearby Columbia glacier.

Once we debarked we proved to be a capable bunch of paddlers. The trip we were on more or less circumnavigated Glacier Island, so called for its views of the Columbia glacier across the bay.

All very pretty and on a perfect day.  We saw lots of marine birds, also a few of the silver salmon we had been fruitlessly hunting were insolent enough to jump around here and there.  There were a couple of particular highlights.  At noon we had lunch then climbed up a hill in the middle of the island.  Here with no photo tweaking at all is Alaska in full glory.

The other amazing sight was a sea lion colony.  A bit of explanation is in order.  The breeding grounds are on the other side of the Sound.  Over there the triumphant, successful males sit among their admiring harems.  The reject males, mostly corpulent old timers and frisky juveniles, come over here. They sit on the beach sullenly snapping at each other.  The noises from the colony are astounding. Imagine an auditorium of 3rd grade boys having a belching contest.

Not a happy bunch.  I have decided that although the human name for this place is Glacier Island, the sea lion name is probably "GaaRaaaaraaaGaaaaarGaaaaag" which translates loosely to "Loser's Beach".

As we paddled away a gang of the younger ones got either a little curious or a little territorial.  They swam out ahead of us, then turned and came charging right at us:

They were at one point right in among our kayaks, and I am not the only member of our party who swears you could smell their rank, fishy breath!

Better luck next breeding season, dudes.

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