Day 1: Our Journey Begins
My daughter and I are both so excited to go to the backcountry in Alaska. We easily meet the tour bus and are soon on the way. At Turnagin Sound we spy a family of Dahl Sheep scrambling up the mountain. The beautiful blue glacial waters are stunning against the lush green of the Chugash Mountains–is that Denali in the distance? Our guide explains that the tides in Cook Inlet are among the world’s swiftest and made exploration very dangerous.
By the time we arrive at the Riverside Lodge it is time for a delicious dinner of fresh Alaskan salmon. Over dinner we have the opportunity to get to know the folks in our tour. I feel so happy that we are travelling with such a great group. We have a stunning view of the river and take a short hike in the woods. In the evening while playing ping pong we look over to see a pair of bald eagles.
My daughter begins her own Alaska journal:
“I am so excited to visit Alaska and looking forward to seeing the wildlife, glaciers and mountains. On the deck of the Lodge we can see shining salmon leaping and twisting in the ever-flowing river. For dinner my mom and I were served a scrumptious meal.”
Day 2: The Kenai River Runs to It
We leave the majestic Riverside Lodge to take an exciting rafting trip down the A Our guide, Todd, is a professional kayaker and my daughter cajoles him to race our raft ahead of the others. As we relax on a small island our guides prepare a delightful picnic feast . We enjoy the spectacular view of Skilak Lake as we settle in to the Backcountry Lodge. After a delicious dinner our guide takes us out for a relaxing evening kayak trip along the shoreline.
On the way back to our cabin my daughter has her first wildlife encounter! ” When I was walking to my cabin I saw a cute little porcupine munching on a brown mushroom. He was cradling it in his paws, and did not see me. I observed him silently, savoring the feeling of awe at the sight of him.”
Day 3: Lichens, tired and bears–oh my!
It is wildflower season and I learn from Anna, our helpful guide, how to identify a variety of them as we hike up the mountain. Six miles up and I make it to the top! I am so proud of myself. At the top the view is incredible. The lichens of the Alpine Tundra are delicately colored and like nothing I have ever seen before.
Right before dinner we are all very surprised to see a little bear scratching at the window! “With the help of our guide, Kevin, I snuck outside and arranged a black-bear skin over me. I crept over to the window, and tap, tap, tap I went using the claws attached to the skin. Tap, tap, tap on the door. Then, I wrestled open the door. I gave the adults quite a scare!”
Day 4: Russian River
This morning we have time to explore along the shore before we travel by boat back up the Kenai River. Today we pass many small islands and then go on a leisurely hike where we view wildflowers, salmon, loons and see many more bear tracks. It is the middle of the second salmon run and the river is teeming with them. We stop at the Russian River and watch as the salmon struggle up the falls. Then up to a beautiful lake where we see some loons. In the evening we relax by the side of the river and learn about wildflowers– you can even make ice cream from Fireweed flower nectar!
Day 5: Bears!
Today we cruise from Seward over to the Glacier Lodge. Every day our trip gets better. Our small ship is comfortable and the captain knows where to take us to view and photograph wildlife. What a way to experience Alaska! Along the way we see spectacular views of glaciers and ride alongside of Dahl porpoises, sea otters and puffins. At the Glacier Lodge we see our first bear! He is fishing for salmon out on the island in the lake. Our guides make sure that my daughter gets plenty of strawberries and other treats.
Any worries that I have had about traveling into the Alaskan wilderness with my nine year-old daughter are long gone. “The boat ride to our third and final destination, the Glacier Lodge, couldn’t have been more beautiful. At one point we stopped to watch a white seal sleeping in the sun. Then we came upon the sea lions where we saw the colossal male lumbering around a party of chatting females.”
Day 6: Glaciers
“The next morning at the Glacier Lodge, my mom and I went on a canoe trip and short hike up to a glacial lake. There we paddled kayaks out to see the brightly colored salmon dancing in water that was dappled with sprinklings of sunshine. They dove about our canoe and leaped out of the water in brilliant pink arcs that left us breathless with wonder. We paddled around, awed by the rugged beauty of the lake, before heading back down the hill to the lagoon and our waiting canoe. When we were within twenty feet of the shore, we had a little surprise, for a little bear chose that moment to come down into the water. We watched it’s graceful stroke part the water as it glided towards Little Bear Island. We observed its passage breathlessly and in silence until the bear had swam out of sight. That afternoon, we went on a mild hike over to Pederson Glacier. In front of its majestic arcs of ice, was a glacial-fed lake, which several icebergs floated in. Glacier water is so blue.
Day 7: Best Family Vacation Ever!
Our last morning at the Glacier Lodge we choose to go on a canoe ride. We see more bears coming down to the water and an eaglet by the shore. On the boat to Seward we see blue whales and more Dahl porpoises, puffins and otters. Our last day of our Alaska Wildland Adventure ends with an unforgettable ride from Seward to Anchorage on the Alaskan Railway.
I have always wanted to go to Alaska and am so thrilled with our trip. From the black bears, bald eagles, whales, moose, and puffins, to the inspiring mountains and glaciers we enjoyed every moment. We learned so much about the plants, animals and landscape of this beautiful place and had so much fun as we experienced many adventures with our guides to lead us. I expected it to be the experience of a lifetime and it was.
This Travel Journal submitted by C. Ramlo details her Alaska Wildland Collection land tour with AdventureSmith Explorations. Read all Travel Reviews for more insights from our alumni travelers and experts, or contact one of our Adventure Specialists to learn more about our Alaska trips and small ship Alaska cruises: 1-877-620-2875