Finally, after an early-season delay, AK Kid and I were finally able to motor into the far reaches of Harris Bay with Liquid Adventures, for a day kayaking at eye level with Northwestern Glacier.
Rain poured down as we drove south from our home in Anchorage toward the little town of Seward, Alaska. Situated at the head of Resurrection Bay, Seward is a sleepy place — seven months of the year — the other five are busy. Crazy busy, with many of the one million cruise ship passengers who visit Alaska each year embarking or disembarking within this community of 3,000.
People come to Seward for several things, glaciers and wildlife among them. Thanks to Resurrection Bay’s sheltered waters and rich seasonal feeding grounds for marine mammals and birds, Seward is known as an easy-to-reach destination (only 2.5 hours from Anchorage by car) with big adventure returns.
Hundreds ply the waters in and around Seward to fish, whale watch, count puffins, and kayak. In fact, kayaking is big business in Seward, with six companies laying claim on the scenic landscape from glacial fjords. So when a company creates a new trip, I get excited, especially now that I’m over my lifelong kayakaphobia and am the parent of a teen who finds kayaking a worthy way to spend time with his mom.
Liquid Adventures has been showing people the simple and complex parts of Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park since 2004, and their newest trip, a daylong swing out of the bay and over to Aialik and Northwestern, is a push beyond the usual 2-4 hour experience for visitors. And that’s exactly WHY they, and you, should give it a shot.
The Liquid Adventures Aialik/Northwestern Explorer:
What is it? A private (no shared water taxi) trip with no more than 12 guests that exposes visitors to the beautiful environment and wildlife of Kenai Fjords National Park with a 2-hour boat ride out and back, and about 3 hours of kayaking the glacial fjords in between.
Water taxi? Not just a water taxi, a custom-built boat owned and operated by one of Seward’s most experienced captains, Jess Hettwer of Alaskan Fjord Marine Service. Jess captains the Oceanna for all Liquid Adventures trips, and takes care to show visitors the best of her favorite play space (or “backyard” as she puts it). She’s also wicked funny, FYI.
What will we do? You’ll check out hidden nooks and crannies during the 2-hour trip to either Holgate or Northwestern Glacier (depending upon the weather and what the guides and Jess decide is best for the group), spotting whales, birds, and a sea lion haul-out or two. Then you’ll drop the kayaks into icy glacier water and put paddles to power, from a point of view most glacier-viewers don’t get to see. Northwestern was in a creaky mood during our visit, and we spent most of our paddling time looking around and peering over our shoulders to see where the heck the thunderous roar of falling ice would come from, next. Incredible.
Is it difficult? It was a long day more than a difficult one. We met at the Liquid Adventures office at 7 a.m. and were back by 5 p.m. It rained all day, so we were wet, wet, and more wet. The paddling itself isn’t hard, unless you count the times my son and I disagreed about which why to go (I was steering the double kayak).
Liquid Adventures recommends this trip for anyone age 10 (or s0) and up, due to the trip’s length and stamina required. You will be sitting for three hours in a small space (kayak cockpits are not large), so if you have back or hip issues, ask the LA folks for advice.
What about food? Oh my, the turkey wrap we noshed on for lunch was delicious, and we had an endless supply of hot drinks to warm us up after a cold paddle. The team can manage most dietary requirements. Liquid Adventures recommends that everyone bring a water bottle.
Do we need a lot of gear? Worry not — Liquid Adventures provided us with Neoprene booties and gloves, rain gear and even socks.
OK, how much will this cost us? The whole shebang is $399/pp, including the ride out, food, gear, and 3 hours of paddling with a guide. In my eyes, combining the sightseeing with the paddle over an entire day is entirely worth the price. Not able to see Glacier Bay in Southeast Alaska? This is your trip. Want to see the landscape from a more intimate perspective? Pick it. You’ll be glad you did.