Sunday, August 9, 2015

2004 Kayaking Alaska's Misty Fjord

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter created the 2.2 million acre Misty Fjords National Monument. In 1980, its size was reduced to 2,142,243 acres but was designated as Misty Fjords Monument Wilderness, and it still remains the largest wilderness in the Tongass National Forest, which is the largest national forest in the USA at 17 million acres. It contains over 3570 square miles of coastal ecosystems, and has mountains reaching 7000 feet elevation. Its location is about 60 miles from Alaska's Inner Passage Gateway town of Ketchikan and it is 115 miles long and 50 miles wide.

Southeast Sea Kayaks offers several kayaking adventures, including this one which I took. A jet boat from Allen Marine (40+ knots) shuttled us to Misty Fjord where we had 6 hours to paddle, lunch, and briefly hike before the shuttle returned to take us back to Ketchikan. Zipping along on the jet boat and savoring the beautiful scenery were highlights of the trip, and that was before we even began paddling!

Fjords are glacially carved waterways with steeply sloped sides as seen in these photos. The magnificent scenery, solitude, and silence (except when a float plane landed near us) make this a true paradise.

Andrea (a teacher from New Jersey) and I were the first to participate in this new trip. Our guide, Mark, was knowledgeable about the area and well-versed in paddling, so even though it turned out that Andrea and I were experienced paddlers, this would have been an enjoyable and safe excursion for even a beginner. Southeast Sea Kayaks provided us top equipment, fiberglass Current Designs Solstice GT kayaks, the exact kayak I own back home, and it was a wonderful company to work with.

Lunch came with the tour of course and though there are few places without the steep walled canyon, we did find a nice place for our picnic lunch.

And we were able to do a little bit of hiking after we ate. All is lush green since this is a temperate rain forest.

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