Travel Tuesday: Valdez, Alaska – Kayaking Trip

Travel Tuesday: Valdez, Alaska – Kayaking Trip
Travel Tuesday: Valdez, Alaska – Kayaking Trip

Where do I even begin with this breathtaking trip to Valdez?

Almost every moment left me speechless, inspired, and aching to see more. We had some unfortunate car trouble so it was cut a day short, but in the 48 hours we spent there, I fell in love.

Every majestic mountain and picturesque view was a bittersweet reminder of our time in Alaska drawing to an end.

When we realized we couldn’t just turn to each other and say, “We’ll be back later this summer!” or “We’ll definitely check that out next time” my heart sunk.

Alaska you have driven me absolutely crazy in the depths of your fierce winters, but your summers have apologized ten-fold. I am overjoyed that I was able to call these views my backyard for two years.

Today I’m sharing some photos from our kayaking trip to the bay of the Columbia Glacier taken with Anadyr Adventures. I highly recommend using this company! The guides were fun and easy-going and willing to explore any areas the guests were interested in. It’s important to note this trip is not to the actual glacier. We weren’t entirely clear on that before we went. This glacier is massive and retreating quickly, so giant chunks of ice are constantly breaking off and getting too close with inexpeirenced kayakers isn’t really encouraged. There are day-trips to actual glaciers (Shoup Glacier and Valdez Glacier), but our trip was to the iceberg fields, islands, and area around Columbia’s bay. We also had a one-hour water taxi ride to where our kayaking started (2 hours on the boat total) and we were able to see lots of wildlife and stunning views during that taxi ride as well.

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Sea lions! Lazy on land, but unbelievably graceful in the water. These guys growled at us the whole time we trolled past them.

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The start of our Kayaking trip at Columbia Glacier’s original terminal moraine. The glacier once extended as far out as where our kayaks sit but has been receeding at an unprecented rate since 1980. It has lost over 13 miles in 35 years along with a sizable amount of its breadth. Below you can see the start of the iceberg fields. These pieces break off daily in tiny and huge pieces and are carried to the terminal moraine (and even farther!) by high tides.

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Icebergs are incredibly unstable and due to that, we had to kayak as far away from each iceberg as the iceberg was large. The saying “the tip of the iceberg” is no joke. For most icebergs, only about 15% of it is visible. So 85% of that iceberg could still be under the water and if a piece wiggles loose due to the salty sea water pounding away at it and shoots up to the surface and your kayak is above it……

(Don’t worry mom & dad, we didn’t witness any ice shooting up from the water!)

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We did however hear icebergs crashing apart and breaking off and spinning in the water all afternoon. We were able to watch one in particular (unfortunately not caught on camera) break apart and crash into the sea. It was incredible.

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The shelf of the Columbia glacier is now that white line at the edge of where the mountains seem to be rise up from the water. From where I was standing to take this picture, that line is about 11-12 miles away. It once enveloped the whole island I stood on, and now it’s just a tiny* blimp in the distance.

*This glaicer remains the largest tidewater glacier in the Prince William Sound, despite how much it’s receeded.
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Yes, all the views are this dreamy.

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Kayaking the Columbia Glacier bay in the Prince William Sound was an incredible experience. It also happened to be the last item to check off on my Alaska bucket list. I am thankful my husband is always up for my crazy ideas, like fulfilling bucket list items right before we leave. This trip was a sweet reminder of how much fun we always have together.

Today is actually our anniversary. 2 years of adventuring and loving and growing. We are still just a pair of kids trying to figure it out, but in moments like this weekend, I swear we have it down. Despite the trials with the car and the serious lows that accompanied those trials, we could still look out at the mountains and smile in spite of ourselves.

Blessed. Spoiled. Lucky. Whatever it is, I am thankful and humbled after a beautiful weekend with this great guy.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
John Muir, Our National Parks

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P.S. A blog post with pictures from the drive to and from Valdez will be up next week.

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