The Top Alaskan Wilderness Sights Part 5
Alaska also is a land of lakes, any number of which can easily provide seclusion and maybe even a tug or two on a fishing line. You can make arrangements with a bush pilot to fly you and your gear, including an inflatable kayak or raft, to a lake, or you can secure a rental at a remote lodge. On the Kenai Peninsula and also north of Anchorage, some lakes interconnect to form a canoe trail system, inviting extended explorations.
Sea kayaks are the best mode of travel on many of these lakes, on easy-flowing rivers, and in areas like Prince William Sound, Misty Fiords National Monument, and the Inside Passage. Sleek yet stable and easy to maneuver, they become silent transport. They also have lots of storage room for camera gear, lunch, and more. Tour boats will often drop off passengers for an afternoon of paddling and then pick them up at the end of the day.
As you plan your Alaska float, consider hiring a guide to take you down a river or through coastal waters. With a guide's experience and organization, you can put aside some of your concerns about preparing for the trip. Outfitters provide all necessary boating and safety equipment, give you an introductory lesson, and, for multiple-day trips, can supply food and camping gear.
Packages may include flying to a remote put-in site followed by a week or more of paddling and camping, hiking, and photography along a designated Wild and Scenic River. Other outfitters can take you paddling and camping through the Inside Passage or Prince William Sound, or they can drop you and your party, along with kayaks, camping gear, and supplies, at a base camp. Some trips combine paddling with whale watching, bear viewing, and other wildlife explorations.
Sometimes it's best to let someone else take the helm. Day boats and cruise ships ply the Inside Passage, and all that's left for you to do is to stare at the scenery and use up your film. A few river options let you sit back and just watch the scenery go by, too. In Fairbanks, operators of the riverboat Discovery offer narrated historical and cultural tours of the Chena and Tanana Rivers. The Yukon Queen II regularly cruises the Yukon River between Eagle and Dawson City in the Yukon Territory, Canada.
Many paddlers who opt for long trips find themselves tucking away their watches as they adjust their schedule to the ebbs and flows of the water. Even whitewater junkies don't miss the excitement of wild water on these trips. They discover that some of the best adventures are on water with hardly a ripple.
While paddling on the Noatak River in the southern Brooks Range, for example, canoeists may see hundreds of caribou stream over a hillside as if some invisible hand were pouring them out of a giant pitcher. They may hear the distinct click-click-click of the animals' ankles as they move en masse, pausing now and then to munch on lichen. Or perhaps they'll see a herd of musk oxen huddling on a coastal plain, or the silhouette of a grizzly bear standing upright against the snow-covered slopes of 8,855-foot Mount Michelson.