Posted Wednesday, July, 6, 2011 by Olivia and Kiel
Note: This blog post was written by Kiel right before they left on their trip (June 21st). We heard on Tuesday, July 5th that all is well and they will be reaching Petersburg in 4-6 days. Click on the map below to view Kiel and Olivia's Google map link of their route.
Planning a route is one of the aspects of outdoor adventures I cherish most. Inevitably, daydreaming and poring over maps takes up way more time than the actual trip, cutting into work, school, and anything else that is less enthralling than fantasies of solitary beaches and sun-kissed mountains. I love the limitless potential of the expedition drawing board—we can go anywhere, see anything, go forever. The whole map beckons, the whole world, as the planning for a trip lays the seeds of inspiration for future journeys. I can look at routes for hours, and talk with friends about the infinite possibilities through every beverage in the fridge. I hope I always will.
And a kayak trip in Southeast Alaska is exceptionally fun to think about. The Alexander Archipelago that gives the area its character is over 300 miles long and contains over 1,000 islands. The Tongass National Forest that covers most of the region is over 17 million acres, while Glacier Bay National Park and various other zones add millions more. Dozens of tidewater glaciers, fjords as stunning as anywhere the world over, and mountains that don’t stop until the open ocean or imposing icefields. Mmmmmm. Just writing this I tingle and smile at how fortunate we are.
Our route has gone through many iterations. We started out overly ambitious. Of course. We tried to incorporate every friend’s sincerely enthusiastic advice—top to bottom of Southeast, with circumnavigations and portages. Cutting channels and islands out of our itinerary seemed impossible, but became easier when we got a humbling wakeup call of back pain, launching logistics, and a boat loaded with 16 days worth of food.
When the dust of planning settled, what we decided on is Juneau to Ketchikan over approximately 37 days. It’s a shortened point to point expedition with copious opportunities to penetrate the periphery. We’ll put in at Sheep Creek in Juneau and paddle southward, and depending on our health, the weather, and our gusto, we’ll strike off east into the steep walls and dense forests of Endicott Arm, Tracy Arm, Thomas Bay, Misty Fjords and weave in and out of islands like Kupreanof, Mitkof, Etolin and more.
Resupply (and blog upload) stops will be few, likely coming at Petersburg and Wrangell, but it’s not a problem. Storage capacity is ample—we’ll be able to go out and explore without rationing food from the first night. Delicious freedom.
And of course, as with any true adventure, it’s still up in the air. We’ll be taking off soon from Juneau but can’t say with 100% certainty where we’ll report from next. Couldn’t be more excited to be looking south with freedom. It’s all in the boat and on our backs and out in the incredible Alaskan wilderness before us. Yes indeed.