Of course there are guided tours for novices like myself, but they are quite pricey and Matt said he had gone before so he decided let's just rent one ourselves for a fraction of the cost and do our own tour. His co-workers convinced him there is this great 5-mile round trip hike to a 100 year old fort that can only be reached by water or an even longer 18 mile hike. By water it's a 5-mile trip there and 5 miles back. No biggie, right? Let's do it.
We enlisted a couple of our good friends, Jared and Nicole - who, God bless them, are up for any crazy idea we come up with - and we hit the road Saturday mid-morning. (Jared, who is a pilot, had just gotten back from LA at 2am the night before, so we let him sleep in a bit.) Our plan was to arrive, jump in the kayaks for the 6-hour or so adventure and end our evening with a big, well-deserved meal at an amazing sea-food place before driving home.
Sounded like a wonderful plan, right?
Matt calls Millers Landing (kayak rental place) as we were leaving to make sure that they would reserve a couple double-kayaks for us - since that would be depressing to drive all that way for nothing. They informed us that due to the risk of it being Alaska and having cold waters, they would require us to take this 2-hour safety lesson first. Annoying, but we obliged.
They took us out on the water and then told us we have to intentionally flip our kayak upside down, pull ourselves out while under water and get back into the kayak using only the paddle as leverage and try not flipping it again - which tends a common occurrence.
As you can imagine, all I was thinking was - are you freaking kidding me?! Never the less, we had plans to kayak, gosh darn it, so we were going to do this!
As my heart was pounding, we flipped the kayak and we fell into the Alaskan ocean.
Holy cow...it was ridiculously cold!! I wish I could remember what all I was exactly
I'm here to verify that it's true that freezing water feels like a million needles piercing your body. Miserable. I had to help Matt into the kayak first before I could crawl in. I truly wish I had pictures to verify my story, but good news is that our instructor (who I'd like to add, never actually got into the water himself) said we did it in record time. I think Matt had no choice as I might have wanted to hurt him had he taken a long time to get back into the kayak. And I, for one, am rarely that motivated...
Thankfully, 2 hours later we were back in our dry clothes and dragging our sea kayaks back into the water. It was 4pm and high tide was at 5:18pm. Our destination was 5 miles down the bay...against high tide. I'm pretty sure the workers at Millers Landing were laughing at us as headed out...remember it was supposed to take us about 6 hours in normal circumstances and none of us had ever done this sea kayaking thing before.
We fought the current and high waves for 2 hours straight without stopping...if we stopped we would start being pushed backwards and the kayak would turn around. So no stopping was allowed! I think for every stroke we went like 1 cm. About 1 1/2 hours into it, we saw the old military dock - FINALLY! But due to our speedy moving, I didn't think we'd ever reach it. I swear I looked at that dumb dock in the distance for it felt like hours before we finally arrived.
|That's the beloved dock behind us, after we finally reached shore|
We pulled our kayaks ashore, so they wouldn't float away while we were gone and tried to dry out from the cold, splashing waves that had been hitting us for the last couple hours. It's about 6:15pm at this point...and we have one liter of water and a couple granola bars to our name. So, naturally, we start up the trail...
|Group pic at the gun turret|
|Quickly water-sealing our belongings that were still dry|