Anchorage and the Kenai Penninsula - August 2008

My first trip to Alaska was with a group called TrekAmerica. It is a company that offers hiking trips around the country. The provide a guide and the camping equipment minus your sleeping bag. Considering I would be flying into Anchorage, it would be a bit of a hassle to bring camping equipment and everything else I would need for a week long camping/hiking/kayaking/fishing trip. They also provide the transportation, which in this case was a van that could hold up to 13 passengers along with a trailer behind to carry all our tents and camping equipment.

I flew into Anchorage the night before and met up with my camping group the next morning. We all introduced ourselves, packed up the trailer and I was on my way south to the Kenai Penninsula for a week with this group of total strangers.

We set out on the road from Anchorage down thru the Kenai Penninsula to the small fishing town of Homer. Our first stop was over one of the many rivers. On one side of the bridge was my first Alaska bald eagle sighting.

and on the other side of the bridge was a grizzly bear fishing. We watched him catch a few salmon from this nice safe vantage point up on the bridge above the river.

Our first campsite was here in Homer on the water. Homer is a town that sits on a spit of land that sticks out far into the.....

It was a beautiful campsite right on the beach.

With views of the water and the snow capped mountains across.

Second day was spent out in the sound halibut fishing. One of my fellow campers, Claudia, caught the largest one of the day.

This was my tent mates first catch - Paul from the Netherlands.

We were each allowed only 2 fish, After my first catch I threw the next few back because I was hoping for a BIG one, but my fourth or fifth catch was decent size and we were coming up close to the end of the excursion so here are my two for the day.

This was a half day fishing trip so we had to be up EARLY and out on the boat before sunrise - we were treated with this view on our way out to our fishing spot.

Here is our catch for the day - about 100 pounds of halibut.

This was awesome watching the 2 crewmen clean the fish. It was obvious this wasn't their first time. They sliced these fillets out of the fish and the cheeks in a matter of seconds.

And threw the carcus over-board for the following seagulls to try to salvage a piece or two off before it sank.

Our next campground was across the bay by water taxi to a secluded spot on the water. It was a beautiful spot with mountain bikes for use and a planned kayaking trip for the next morning.

I ventured out on the mountain bike up and around the area and then hiked along the shoreline.

It was called our luxury campsite because we didn't have to set up our own tents or cook our own meals while here.

Homer Harbor

Here is our trip guide, Emiko.

The scenery on this kayaking trip was incredible. The water was so clear and there were hundreds of jellyfish in some areas we kayaked thru.

We also came across an otter family. This was so cool to get so close to this otter family in their own habitat. We actually got a little too close and scared them a little - they made some funny squealing noises to warn us we were too close - especially since they had a little baby with them.

Here are two more of my camping mates, Pedro and Claudia from North Carolina.

I was completely amazed by the number and variety of starfish all along the shoreline. They would be hanging on the sides of rocks, some small, some large, 5 legged, 8 legged, red ones, green ones, black ones and gray ones... it was amazing.

We kayaking out into the bay, then along the shore.

With a nice secluded little island for lunch where we could see another otter out floating on his back working on his own lunch trying to open a clam.

Our next campsite was a bit less luxury - no showers, no facilities at all - but we had the entire campground to ourselves - there were no other campers here this night at all - except for the black bear that greeted us by wandering thru one of the campsites where one of the girls was sitting alone. She let out a scream of terror and I was the first one on the scene. The bear just wandered thru the campsite and along the lake - I tried to snap a picture, but was a bit too late and it was getting too dark.

The next day was a pretty easy hike, but with some very cool views.

This is Michelle and I on the Skilak Lake hike. She was also traveling alone so it was nice to have a kayaking and hiking pal. She worked for Merck and lived in Pennsylvania.

Skilak Lake hike.

Our next stop was in the busy town of Seward right on Resurrection Bay. This was a beautiful spot with a pretty cool campground right on the bay.

We spent a couple days in Seward. The first day we took the Glacier Cruise that would take us right up to the edge of a glacier. Enroute we would see Puffins, Otters, Humpback Whales, Bald Eagles and Seals.

See...and here are the seals.

We spent quite a bit of time at the glacier because one of the fun things to watch at the base of a glacier is to see it calf - it gives you a much better perspective of the size when you see a HUGE chunk fall off it and hear and see the force of just that small piece of it.


The chunks floating in the water were so beautiful - clear and blue.

And we were lucky to see a humpback whale on this trip. It was HUGE and we followed it for a good 20 minutes. It never jumped out of the water for us, but did breach the surface quite a bit.

Our next day was probably my favorite...well, a toss up between the halibut fishing I guess. This was a hike up along Exit Glacier to Harding Icefield. This hiking trip turned pretty exciting when we spotted this bear that was off in the woods. Fortunately we were on the trail above watching the scene below, because we watched this bear stand up and look at another hiker below and then CHARGE at him. Four of us stood on this trail above yelling and waving our arms hoping to get the bears attention and get him to stop. The other hiker threw down his back and just ran like mad. The bear stopped quite a way away from the hiker and then just wandered off...UNFORTUNATELY he wandered off along the trail where we would be hiking! We did come across him again, he was just 20 yards or so off the trail drinking out of a stream. We walked quietly (and quickly) past...

The hike up to Harding Icefield is extremely varied and beautiful. One minute you are in lush forest surroundings, then you are crossing streams, or walking thru meadows, or even across snow.

Harding Icefield Hike

Harding Icefield Hike

Harding Icefield Hike


The view back where we came from and down into the valley.

Our first view of Harding Icefield

The Icefield is HUGE - as far as I could see was just white.

This hut was provided at the Icefield for a protected area should the weather turn nasty, it wasn't so great on this day, pretty cold and rainy, but bearable.

Part of the trail.

copyright protected - photos by Tom Whalen

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