So, my best friend from high school lives up in Anchorage and I tend to voyage up there every year or so to get out in the wilds and hang.
We did a trip like this but on a much larger scale about four years ago; paddling 130 miles over nine days unsupported.... this trip was much more casual. We had a couple of buddies fly in from Shanghai and Indo, another from back home in Cincinnati and finally another friend from Bird, AK to round out this trip.
Essentially, Greg (Anchorage hombre) found us a place to rent some [kayaks] and hired a water taxi out of Whittier. We packed all our crap into dry bags and off we went.... it was about an hour and a half boat ride from Whittier to Harriman Fjord where we got dropped. Rainin' the whole time.
It was bumpy getting out to our drop off point, and the captain said he may not be able to pick us up on Monday or possibly Tuesday due to the storm that was rolling in and we were all like "oh shit.... " but we made the best of it.
The trip was relatively short. Four days out in the fjord and due to the almost constant rain, we chose to keep our camp in one spot, which allowed us to bring extra beers, as well as to travel fairly quickly in lightweight boats.
We chose Harriman Fjord for a few reasons. Firstly, there are a ton of glaciers back there and they are surprisingly active; calving and booming all day and night. This, coupled with the fact that the fjord is super protected, meaning it sits at the start of the Chugach Range and the mountains fire straight up out of the water.
Having such big peaks surrounding you means the wind doesn't rip through there and churn up the water, which was nice for us... it was like lake paddling, but with a swift tidal current and massive features all around.
I love telling stories of hardship and perseverance, they are by far the best stories to share over a beer back home with friends... but not every trip needs to be harrowing.
This one was not one that I wanted to be a Sufferfest. I had just gotten back from 27 consecutive days filming a campaign that literally took me around the world.... I had been home for roughly a week before I flew up to AK to head out with these guys, so I was road tired and just wanted to relax.
It wasn't relaxing really, but it was a nice release from my cell phone, emails, texts and the constant demands I had been dealing with on the road the previous month.
If you just want to take in the beauty of nature, hang with buddies you haven't seen in a minute and unplug, then don't push it! Know yourself and what you and the group are trying to get out of the trip.... which is why we told the boat captain when he dropped us off, "If we aren't at the original pickup point when you pull into the fjord, look for us right here where you dropped us off!"
The rain let up a few times during our paddling (which was awesome) and on our last day we got a few pockets of sun, a rainbow and most importantly everyone was still stoked to be on the trip!
But maybe the most memorable thing was the Thunder Clap sound of calving glaciers that constantly rang through the fjord. It was awesome.... especially when you paddled into the icy soup near the glaciers to float and wait for calving events. All in all, not a bad way to spend some time away from home.
Words & Photos: Adam Bove
Location: Harriman Fjord, AK