The journey begins in Juneau, Alaska. Although part of the mainland, Juneau is not connected by any road system, making it a de facto island and the perfect place to start a sea kayaking expedition.
Starting in the waters of Echo Cove, we will soon leave behind the bustling capital of our 49th state and move northward along the base of the Coast and Chilkat mountains. Paddling along rocky beaches and around uninhabited islands, we are constantly on the lookout for wildlife. Humpback and Killer whales cruise these waters during the summer months, feeding on herring and hooligan, alongside Stellar sea lions and harbor seals. When the clouds part, we can see rivers of ice from the Herbert and Eagle glaciers running from the Juneau Icefield and eventually to the sea.
After a day or two of paddling our sea kayaks, we will be alone for the most part, seeing the occasional fishing boat or subsistence fisherman. The coastline of the fjord between Juneau and Haines is rich in wildlife and home to many species, including brown and black bears, wolves, and moose to name a few. Your guide lives and works in these waters and on this coast living with the creatures that have inhabited this area long before Europeans came to its shores and will teach you how to travel safely in this environment. We will tread lightly and use Leave No Trace camping practices, not only maintain the wildness of this place but to keep us safe from harm.
We will use expedition style kayaks ranging from 17 to 21 feet in length designed to travel great distances. This time of year, the weather from the Gulf of Alaska pushes winds from the south and we will use those to aid our travel north to the not-so-sleepy little fishing town of Haines.
This sea kayak expedition will have its challenges and we will paddle nearly 80 miles over 7 days, but we will have time to stretch our legs and explore the coastline on hikes in the evenings or on a rest day. Physical fitness will be a factor more so than sea kayaking experience, and extensive paddling experience is not required. We will spend some time going over safety information and paddling technique so that your Alaskan sea kayaking expedition is not only a safe one but educational as well.
Sea kayaks have a long history in the waters of Alaska and are a great way to enjoy the fjord between Haines and Juneau. They allow us to travel almost silently and be inconspicuous, letting us become part of the this world we are visiting.
Meet your guide in Juneau for a pre-trip meeting and dinner.
We will pack our things early and meet with our driver for a 45-minute ride to Echo Cove. Once at the launch, we will get our kayaks squared away and go over some kayak paddling techniques as well as some safety items. Then we'll push off into the waters of Berners Bay. We will spend our first day on the water exploring the bay and refining our paddling techniques. Once everyone is feeling comfortable, we will head north to our first campsite and a well-deserved hearty dinner.
Waking up below the towering mountains of the Coast and Chilkat mountain ranges, we will have a hearty breakfast, pack our gear, take a look at the wind and the tides and make our way through Berners Bay. Leaving Berners Bay will take us out into the main part of the fjord between Juneau and Haines. Keep your eyes peeled for humpback or killer whales, which frequent these waters, feeding on schools of herring and hooligan, a large smelt-like fish prized for its oil. Making our way up the east side of the fjord, we are heading for Point Sherman, a traditional camping spot for the Tlingit on their trade routes to the south. We will camp on the gentle shores near Point Sherman as well.
Rest Day! We have earned a rest day. Sleep in, read a book, build a fire on the beach, hike up the river bed into the mountains or perhaps to a glacier, or just relax in camp taking in what the Tongass National Forest has to offer you.
Now into the heart of the fjord we will have our rhythm, making good time in the mornings on the water but always taking a moment to watch porpoises swim by or bald eagles fish along the shore. In the afternoon when the breeze picks up, we can choose to let the wind push us north, rafting our kayaks together to give those paddling muscles a break, breaking out the binoculars and scouting for our next campsite on Sullivan Island.
This day will see us head to the western shore of the fjord, and for the first time we may see a cabin or the remnants of a fox farm from the early days as we close in on our destination of Haines. Our campsite on this day is at the mouth of the Harley River drainage. Once camp is set up we can head for a hike up the Harley River and maybe, just maybe, to the glacier at the end of the valley.
After one last camp breakfast, we have Haines in our sights. We may paddle into Letnikof Harbor to meet our ride into town, or we may catch a ride in a water taxi or bush plane if our pace or weather has us a little behind schedule. Either way, we will be welcomed to Haines by the crew at SEAK Expeditions, with showers in our very near future.
Food while in the field
Group camping gear
Tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads
Kayak, paddle, PFD, safety gear
Professional guide service
Lodging while not in the field
Food while not in the field
Gratuity for guide(s)