TRIP REPORT: ALASKAN ADVENTURE
Recently our Founder, Todd, set out for adventure on the Alaskan water.
Read about his adventure with friends as they journeyed through incomparable beauty and enjoyed the freshest fish tacos.
I make an effort to visit places that make me feel small. Alaska, turns out, is a great place to do that.
VSSL Voyager, Jason Mulloy, runs Alaska Coastal Explorer, an adventure charter outfit out of Seward that offers fishing, surfing, and customized boat expeditions. At the beginning of the season, Jason likes to take a group of friends out, shake the cobwebs off the boat and test the gear so it’s good and ready for paying customers. About five years ago I did this trip. I was shocked to find out how unique and incredible Alaska is. Since that trip, I’ve been hankering to get back.
So, when the stars recently aligned, and a week where four friends and I were all free at the same time to travel opened, I couldn’t turn it down. What’s even better about visiting places that make you feel small is having awesome people with you to share the experience.
The adventure begins on the boat, loading provisions, packing away gear, cramming duffel bags into the v- berth, and making sure your bunk mates have ear plugs in case you snore. We plowed out of Seward harbor on a light easterly wind. Jason had spotted a keyhole entrance into a remote cove while exploring the ins and outs of the coasts a few years ago. The entrance isn’t much wider than his boat, allowing us to sneak in. With our first mate Garrett watching the bow, and the rest of us on watch at the beams, we idled through the keyhole. By the time we dropped anchor, the sun had crested the cliffs up above us, it was as dark as it gets in Alaska in June.
It was almost better that we dropped anchor in the fading light, because the beauty in the morning was insane. The sun wasn’t quite up yet, but it was bright enough to see the cove in more detail. I’ve sailed a lot, and tied up in some unique and picturesque spots, and this could be the most stunning place I’ve ever been at anchor.
We rushed through some morning coffee because a few of us wanted to try catching fish just outside the entrance to the cove. As we made our way with our tackle and rods crammed into the skiff, the sun poked out above the mountain behind us to fully illuminate the scene, and it was breathtaking.
We buzzed along, and had hardly made it into open water with hooks in when my friend Brandon shouted, “fish on!” I was driving, so had to wait a few more precious minutes before I could get my gear in, too. By the time I did, both Brandon and our friend Connor both had fish on! I dropped my lure and within seconds had that adrenaline pumping tug on my line. All three of us had fish on at the same time! This was going to be an epic fishing hole. We soon limited out and were back to the boat with our haul. We could have ended the trip right there and I would have been a happy camper. But there was more, a lot more to experience.
We headed out of the cove and into deeper water for some ocean fishing, in hopes of catching halibut. Even smaller halibut can put up a good fight, so they’re super fun to catch. And not only that, they taste incredible. We were having a very rewarding day of smallish halibut, ling cod and rockfish when suddenly Brandon was yanked to the rail. He hauled in a true beauty of a halibut, weighing in at well over 100lbs.
It just kept getting better.
We pulled into another magnificent harbor for the night and enjoyed the freshest fish taco feast I’ve had, along with some great banter.
That next day we did more fishing and had some fun exploring the coasts. The Kenai fjords are packed with hidden coves, waterfalls and glaciers. Jason has been tolling these waters for years and can hone in on where they all are. It makes for some amazing sightseeing in between stints of fishing. During a break, we pulled up to one of Jason’s favorite places. All along the wall of this bay were waterfalls cascading hundreds of feet down sheer cliffs. It was magnificent. And in the best way, made me feel small.
By this point in our journey our legs were well rested, and we would need them to portage the dinghy and our pack rafts a few miles up a creek and into Bear Glacier. Of all the stunning scenery we would encounter, this is the most surreal. Paddling amongst massive icebergs feels like a truly out- of- this- world experience. We paddled for hours, checking in with each other, big smiles all around as each new turn revealed dramatic shapes and an array of colors in the ice. We were so fortunate to have Connor and his photo equipment with us. It’s hard to do these moments justice on camera, and he seems to nail it every time.
Maybe it’s the inherent danger of paddling in icebergs (they can shift and roll without notice) or just the sheer size and beauty of them, but this experience is truly humbling. It’s hard to be too wrapped up in yourself and your own mind when you’re surrounded by so much magnificence. To see how mother nature’s grandeur shocked not only me into a very present flow state, but my companions as well (all avid travelers) is testament to how powerful and rewarding venturing out into wild nature can be.
We were feeling fulfilled and grateful as we headed back to Seward.
It was tough leaving this place and our friends at the end of the trip. But I was excited because I really LOVE trains, and we were taking the historic Alaska Railroad on a 4-hour trip back to Anchorage to catch our flight home. It was much needed downtime to start processing the trip as more of Alaska’s beauty passed by outside the window. I can’t wait to be back and to feel small again.