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Kayaking Glacier Bay Alaska

An epic family adventure in the wilds of Alaska

This was one of the most memorable family trips we’ve had. Glaciers, bears, bald eagles. We had it all. It isn’t tough paddling because it is inland and quite calm. For young kids you can use double-kayaks so they can even nap in the back. The boats they rent are super-solid and stable (though very heavy – you really don’t want to portage).

I rated this difficult because the weather can be challenging and because of grizzly bears you need to cook away from camp. If it’s raining that can be difficult. No – that can just plain suck. On the other hand, paddling through icebergs to watch a glacier calf is unforgettable. Playing hide and seek from seals is fun.

We did have one portage because on the map is showed a passage during high tide. What it meant was there is a passage during the highest of high tides. But at a normal high tide? Mud. Although not fun, we did see tracks of bear, moose and maybe wolf.

We made this our main trip to Alaska but afterwards headed up to around Anchorage and Denali. To get to Glacier Bay we flew into Juneau and then took a little plane to Gustavus. We then rented gear and spent a day packing food. Bring lots of food. We then took the national park tour boat and they will drop you off at predetermined locations. Bears know this, and wait for the drop-off so they can grab some lunch by eating a boater. No, I’m kidding.

But I have to admit it feels a little bit like this. They push out a gang plank, and all the tourists stare at you glumly as you lug your gear down to the beach. They are not smiling, it’s like they are thinking, “you poor saps, no one will ever see you again”. Then the boat crew pulls up the gang plank and they motor away – and then it’s silent. And you are thinking, “did those tourists know something I don’t know?”

But we’ve done it twice and each time we all came back home. I do think there has been one bear related fatality many decades ago, before they started being careful with food and cooking. I really don’t think it’s an issue.

John Muir Glacier
A whale came swimming into this inlet! Super cool. (I mean the small inlet)

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