Alaska. The name itself for most people conjures up immediate feelings of excitement, adventure, exploration and maybe even a little bit of trepidation for some about the vast wilderness and wildlife that encompasses this beautiful state. For me, it is all those feelings plus a bit of nostalgia knowing that I will be returning to such a wonderful place that I was fortunate to call home 8 summers ago. It was a dream of mine to live in Alaska for a summer so after convincing my sister to be my traveling companion we packed the car and headed north. We thought we were headed to the Kenai Peninsula (where we had been on a family vacation 5 years prior) but our journey through the Inside Passage revealed to us such beauty, adventure and community that we could not travel any further north. The charming town of Sitka is where we set up base camp for the summer and we found ourselves delighted by what each day had in store for us. Immediately the community welcomed us in with open arms and I found a job as a bike and hike tour guide. Our summer was filled with lots of laughter, new friendships, adventure, fishing and lots of rain! These last 8 years I have often thought about the beautiful Inside Passage and when I would be able to return……..
Pacific Catalyst II
And so here I am about to return to this magical area of Southeast Alaska! For this upcoming trip I will not be in Sitka waiting on the docks to take cruise patrons biking and hiking. This time I will be on the opposite side of being a tour guide and instead will be experiencing the Inside Passage as a cruise guest aboard the Pacific Catalyst II. AdventureSmith’s Active Inside Passage Itinerary has me filled with joy knowing that I will experience the remoteness of the Inside Passage aboard an intimate 12-passenger yacht. The Pacific Catalyst II is much more unique though than any other small boat I’ve ever encountered. This wooden vessel has a story of its own that will entice you to come aboard just to learn more about its history. In 1932, the Catalyst was constructed and became the University of Washington’s first oceanographic research vessel. During WWII, the Navy used her to patrol the Aleutian Islands for Japanese submarines. After the war, she was refitted and then over the course of 40 years she was used for countless operations including delivering mail, delivering mining supplies, being used as a floating dentist office and as a floating marine laboratory. In 2013, she was restored true to her 1930s heritage and now along with her original 1932 Washington Diesel engine she creates an intimate environment for those lucky enough to experience Alaska aboard this floating home.
Active Inside Passage
My 7 day cruise itinerary embarks in Petersburg and disembarks in Juneau. The days between these port towns will be spent exploring fishing towns, remote wilderness, glacier fjords and up close wildlife encounters including bear viewing at the infamous Pack Creek Zoological Reserve. When not aboard our cozy home we will spend time exploring the Inside Passage by foot or kayak. The Inside Passage is a unique portion of Alaska as the Tongass National Forest creates the canvas for which my itinerary will be painted upon. The Tongass is the largest national forest in the United States at 17 million acres. This temperate rainforest is remote enough to be home to many endangered and rare flora and fauna. Aboard the Catalyst we will be able to explore these remote areas and wildlife up-close in our floating basecamp. And after these excitement filled days I will spend time aboard getting to know the crew and the other guests in our family style environment. While we enjoy fresh baked goods, fresh seafood and other locally sourced ingredients we will recap on the highlights of our daily adventures.
So, what am I the most excited about? Can I pick more than one thing?? Fresh seafood, kayaking alongside glaciers, seeing humpback whales and bears! Let’s be honest…..what am I not excited about?!