Alaska - Week 6
July 31, 2022
Once in a while, we feel a little intimidated to write our weekly post because we have seen so much in a matter of days. This is one of those weeks. Southeastern Alaska has shown us all her beauty: glaciers, horned puffins, whales, icebergs, lakes, eagles, seals, and more glaciers.
Monday: Willow to Seward (3h30 / 200 Miles)
We couldn’t leave Willow without going on a dog sledding tour, even though it was the middle of summer. Through our Airbnb host Carrie, we learned about Alaskan Husky Adventures, a local Iditarod racing team and sledding tour company a few miles down the road. The husband and wife owners met during an Iditarod race, and their love story was even written in the New York Times! It took very little to convince Renda and David to join us, so the four of us geared up and hopped on the custom-made summer sleds with Alaskan Husky Adventures.
Matt, who competes in Iditarod every year, drove our sled, and we got to chat about what it was like to finish the longest race in the world and what were some qualities to look for in a race dog. Not surprisingly, a dog that knows how to pace themselves and use their energy efficiently has a higher chance to finish the race. But we were surprised to learn that having a short recovery time and being a non-picky eater were crucial factors for Matt. During the race, Matt’s dog team would run up to 6 hours at a time, rest for a few hours and have to be back on the trails again. The ones who need their 8-hour beauty sleep won’t recover fast enough to finish the race, and the picky eaters, well, won’t get enough calories.
If you were an Alaskan husky, would you make it to the Iditarod racing team? Kuan needs her beauty sleep, so she is out. 😅
After the fun and educational tour, we bid a very temporary goodbye to Renda and David to head south to Seward. In a week’s time, the four of us will reunite again in Homer.
Seward is known as the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, home to more than 670,000 acres of glacier fjords. As soon as we arrived in town, we looked for a tour to take us up close to see the glaciers. After some last-minute inquiries, we bought tickets for the following day to see the Northwestern Glacier with Kenai Fjords Tours. Now that task was out of the way, we spent the rest of the day scrolling in the bayside town and enjoying what the nice day had to offer.
To best prepare ourselves for the 7-hour cruise and Margo for her equally lengthy stay in the camper, we woke up early for a long walk by the bay. By 8:30am, we had parked the truck, secured Margo in the camper and boarded the 125-seat catamaran. What awaited us were some incredible wildlife encounters and jaw-dropping glacier views!
The Northwestern Glacier, named after Northwestern University in 1909, is a tidewater glacier meaning that the water from the glacier flows down into to the ocean. The interface between the sea and the snow was awe-inspiring, and the color and texture of the glacier so beautiful that we took many pictures with our zoom lens.
Exhausted after the tour, perhaps due to extended sun exposure on the deck, we found a nice camp by the Resurrection River just outside of Seward.
The plan for the day was to drive the only road in Kenai Fjords National Park to Exit Glacier, one of the most accessible glaciers by foot in Alaska. After our first ranger-led program in Denali, we decided to continue our learning with Alaskan park rangers and joined a guided 1.5-mile hike to the overlook of Exit Glacier. Ranger Bill did not disappoint — he pointed out the local flora and fauna along the way, and aside from the knowledge, we were so infatuated by his love for this place that we went back to see the glacier by ourselves again after the guided tour!
Our last full day at Seward was marked by an adventure of a lifetime to celebrate Victor’s birthday: a kayaking trip in Bear Glacier Lagoon amongst the icebergs. To get to the kayak launch sites, our options were either by jet boats or by helicopter, and we went with…the latter! 🎂🎁
It was hard to capture the experience with mere photos, so we recorded a few video clips during the ride and the paddle. The tour was booked through Liquid Adventures, and it was a 5-star experience.
Saturday: Seward to Cooper Landing (1h / 50 Miles)
We couldn’t have asked for better weather in the last few days, and when the rain clouds moved in Saturday morning, we took it as the sign to finally leave Seward. The bayside town had so much to offer, and we loved our time here! Perhaps we will stop by again on our way back home.
The next destination is Homer, fondly known as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World,” on the other end of the Kenai Peninsula. Our plan was to find camp not too far from Seward, and when we pulled into the quiet gravel shore of the Kenai Lake, we called it a day.
Sunday: Cooper Landing to Ninilchik via Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (1h30 / 84 Miles)
We had an ambitious plan to wake up at 6am to maximize our chances of seeing wildlife when we would drive through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on our way. Yet, in reality, we grudgingly got up at 9am so when we arrived at the Refuge at high noon, the wildlife was nowhere to be seen.😭 We learned our lesson that only early birds get to see wildlife.
In the afternoon, we stocked up on groceries and slowly made our way to Anchor Point, about 30 minutes outside of Homer, where we wrapped up the week.
Just as we were about to publish the post, three bald eagles arrived at the beach looking for fish. So we had to end this week’s report with the thrill. Wish you an eagle-worthy week!