Kayaks & Crowlers

Kayaks & Crowlers

Winter isn’t coming – it’s here. Some people find it hard to think about kayaking in the sunshine in nothing but a t-shirt when the trees are bare and the snow has started to fall, but I’m not one of those people. I’m spending the long nights reflecting back on adventures from last summer, and already making plans for the upcoming year.

Last July, my friend Eric kayaked up into Johns Hopkins Inlet in Glacier Bay. I’m planning to make the same trip next summer, so I talked with Eric to get the lowdown on his trip and make some plans for mine!

Eric and some friends spent six days kayaking through Glacier Bay, hauling all his gear and supplies for the week in his kayak. Here’s his itinerary, the same one that I’m planning to follow sometime next summer:

Pre-trip prep: Load kayaks and gear onto ferry from Juneau – Gustavus. Camp in Glacier Bay National Park Campground.

Day One – Baranof Winds Tour Boat from Glacier Bay Lodge to Skidmore Bay for kayak drop-off. Paddle 8 miles from Skidmore Bay to Reid Inlet. Make camp at Reid Inlet.

Day Two – Paddle 14 miles to Johns Hopkins Glacier. Make camp on the black sand beach in Johns Hopkins Inlet, about a mile from the glacier.

Day Three – Day paddle around Johns Hopkins Inlet and glacier. Second night of camping at Johns Hopkins Inlet.

Day Four – Paddle 31 miles from Johns Hopkins Inlet to Tidal Glacier. Make camp on shore near Tidal Glacier.

Day Five – Paddle 30 miles from Tidal Glacier to the Beardslee Islands, choose an island and make camp.

Day Six – Paddle 13 miles from the Beardslees back to Glacier Bay Lodge, make camp at Glacier Bay National Park Campground.

In six days, Eric and his paddling pals saw two grizzlies, three black bears, a cow and baby moose, and numerous mountain goats, porcupines, humpbacks, stellar sea lions, harbor seals, harbor porpoises, bald eagles, tufted puffins, and sea otters. They also spotted fresh wolf tracks near one of their campsites.

His best tips?

“Stay as long as possible in Johns Hopkins Inlet, to enjoy the seals and new seal pups splashing, playing, and sunning themselves on the rocky beaches near the glacier. Stop as often as you need to check out wildlife, especially if you’re traveling with people from outside Alaska. Be prepared for blisters – maybe bring gloves, or at least a lot of band aids. And don’t forget the beer or the Annie’s Mac & Cheese!”

All photos courtesy of Eric Stefanich. Check out more of his adventures on Instagram at @eric_john16.