Kayaking Glacier Bay and/or Inside Passage

OK – call me crazy. We just got back from three years on our bikes and now our dreams are running amok yet again…

We’re hoping to make a kayak trip in Alaska a reality for next summer – but aren’t sure where to turn for info and help planning. If you have any contacts who could maybe help us make this happen, please send their contact information my way!

At this point, we are toying with Glacier Bay and/or the Inside Passage. Our first thought was spending the whole summer in Glacier Bay, but I’m hearing it’s pretty small for eight weeks. Someone suggested maybe the Inside Passage.

We are still in the very, very beginning stages of exploring this one, but would welcome any ideas/thoughts/contact info you may have! Thanks!

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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13 Responses to Kayaking Glacier Bay and/or Inside Passage

  1. Scott August 10, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    Check out the film “Paddle to Seattle”
    http://www.paddletoseattle.com/
    It will give you some insight into paddling that area.

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    Nancy Reply:

    thanks for the rec – I’ll check it out for sure!

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  2. Brian August 10, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    I have spent a week paddling in Glacier Bay. 4-5 weeks would probably be a better duration. The other problem will be food as you’d be lucky to get more that 2 weeks a food in the kayak and probably quite a bit less. I am assuming you’d probably have 2 doubles and you also would need to store all food in bear canisters which take up additional space. So, you’ll have to schedule additional food drops along the way.

    The other thing to keep in mind is there will be a lot of down time in camp (tides, winds, weather, etc) and there isn’t much to do as the hiking is limited as bears and deep brush line just past the shoreline.

    The Inside Passage is a whole level up in commitment and experience. I probably wouldn’t consider it unless I was a confident cold water kayaker and had a bomber roll.

    The other idea would be the Maine Coastal Trail. Lots of campsites along the way which I assume (haven’t done any of it) means easy to get and resupply food and plenty to do around camp. As a family trip this would probably be the one I’d be most interested in.

    Alternatively, the Sea of Cortes would be ideal as it is warm water kayaking which eliminates a lot of the danger. But this would not be a summer trip which I am assuming you are looking for to tie in with school break.

    There is a big difference between warm water kayaing and cold water kayaking as well as kayak touring vs bike touring. For instance, in bike touring you can generally get by with a small tent but in kayak touring it grows old real fast, etc.

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    Nancy Reply:

    Thanks! I will certainly check in to all those options. We are in the very, very beginning stages of planning so this info is greatly appreciated!

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  3. Theresa August 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Well, if you come by Sitka, we’ll put you up for a night!

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    Nancy Reply:

    That would be awesome!

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  4. Sarah August 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    The inside passage is quite a challenge, particularly if you haven’t sea kayaked before. As with anything lots of techniques to learn (both paddle, rescue and safety skills as well as how to expedition camp from boats). You could also consider a traverse of Prince William Sound – lots of places to explore in there and much of it more sheltered and less tidally / wind influenced that the inside passage.

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    Nancy Reply:

    Thanks Sarah! I’ll check that out. We’re trying to figure out what we want to do, so ideas are good :)

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  5. Lianne August 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Start by seeing if you even like ocean kayaking. I lived in Prince Rupert for 4 years and kayaked a lot up there and the weather, even in summer, is unpredictable. You really need to be skilled in a way you don’t need to be for cycling. I’ve done both cycle touring and kayak touring and they are a world apart.

    I would suggest planning to spend sometime next summer paddling somewhere relatively easy and fun, like the Broken Group Islands and then assess your plans from there. http://www.vancouverisland.com/regions/towns/?townid=4013

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    Nancy Reply:

    Thanks for the idea! I know I love ocean kayaking – I spent quite a bit of time on the water when I worked at Glacier Bay many years ago. John has also done a little bit, so we know he’s good. The kids? We don’t know for sure.

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  6. Anna August 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    A third option is canoeing/kayaking on the rivers in Yukon or the Northwest Territories.

    The only other recommendation I have is to look into mosquito/midge gear – midge jackets, hats, etc. I don’t know how bad it is on the Alaskan coast (depends on the wind, I suppose) but I speak from personal experience when I say it’s just. not. fun. when 10,000,000 critters decide they want YOU for supper. (You should know too, you’ve already cycled through it!). You can also make something yourself; a couple of years ago when I visited Greenland I made a rudimentary midge hat from a cheap, sheer Ikea curtain, and it worked wonders (plus, it gave me a pink-tinted view on the world because of the colour I chose). Just avoid bright colours like yellow and orange – it attracts the critters.

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    Nancy Reply:

    I was actually thinking about the Yukon River the other day! We’ll have to give this a good think and figure out what we really want. Too many options!

    But yeah – we know all about those mosquitoes! NASTY!

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  7. Mark August 15, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Jill Fredston has paddled extensively in Alaska (her home) and in other arctic and sub-arctic waters, including the Inside Passage, and would be an invaluable resource to you. She is the author of Rowing to Latitude in which she details her trip up the Inside Passage with her husband.

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