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Backpacker Magazine – November/December 2005

Save or Splurge: Kayak Southeast Alaska

Tour the wildlife menagerie that is southeast Alaska on two kayak trips

by: Tracy Ross

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What You Get

One of the first ever commercially guided trips into a stretch of saltwater so remote that Glacier Bay National Park rangers say it's visited by "point 5" people a year. The 7-day, 40-mile sea-kayaking tour--run for the first time this July--starts with a 4-hour charter-boat ride to the mouth of the Pacific. Continue west, and you're off to Japan. Turn north, and you're headed to nutrient-rich Dundas Bay, a 9-mile-wide inlet (and your home for the next week) near the Inside Passage. Here, orcas, humpbacks, and minke whales join seals, sea lions, otters, and bald eagles for the seafood buffet. Guides, boats, fresh-caught food, park fees, and charters are included; you bring your personal gear and sleeping bag.

Why It's Cool

Where else can you slip your boat into waters where commercial fishermen once watched a pod of orcas take down a moose swimming across open water? (Don't let that scare you off: Orcas don't eat sea kayakers.) And where else can you go on a trip that's guaranteed to be one of a kind-because the land is rising an inch a year and the glaciers are shrinking so fast the maps ought to be redrawn every decade? In krill-and-phytoplankton-rich Dundas and Taylor Bays, you and your guides do recon together: paddling in crystal-blue waters where all five species of Pacific salmon congregate before heading up the Taku, Chilkoot, and Chilkat Rivers; poking around untouched tide pools; hiking wildflower-festooned ridges; and camping hard up against the Fairweather Range's 15,000-foot peaks. You'll still have time to take a bucket bath, tuck into blackened salmon and cheesecake, and read a book by the light of the 11 p.m. sun.

How To Do It

Alaska Mountain Guides & Climbing School: (800) 766-3396;

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