The theme of my excursions on the Alaskan cruise was the outdoors, and the stop in Sitka was no exception. Before the cruise, I wanted to do something special and memorable, so kayaking immediately stood out to me. While it may not be quite as unique as snorkeling (https://wanderingbarbarian.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/alaskan-snorkeling-excursion/), it was a fantastic time in the uncharacteristically fantastic weather!
To begin, the entire group of kayakers were bussed to the meeting point where we had the option to wear the special pants (that were reminiscent of clown pants, albeit specialized to deal with water) and the jackets (which I opted not to wear) in addition to the obligatory lifejackets for the trip there. Once we were all set, we took a 10 minute boat trip to the float house, where we received our briefings pertaining to how to kayak and safety. From there, we changed into the lifejackets we’d be wearing once we were actually on the water ourselves-the initial set we wore was for the journey over, and they were bulkier since we were on the open water. I’ve been white water rafting and dragon boating before, so admittedly, the instructions were relatively redundant or similar. The main rule our guide preached was to be calm. Meaning, don’t freak out when the kayak itself shifts towards one direction or if you or your partner see something interesting, don’t lean over too much. Really, it was the basic “don’t exacerbate the situation too much” tip. From there, we were matched up/formed our partnerships. As the bigger guy, I chose the back seat (the kayaks were two-seaters) to help with the steering, whereas my partner in the front took on the role of navigating the boat. (Before anybody asks, no, we didn’t fall in the water-we never were in danger.)
An ongoing theme of the cruise was how we brought the fantastic weather with us from the lower 48 (states; it’s the nickname Alaskans give to the mainland US), and we were very fortunate to have that with us on the water. Seriously, the weather was a gorgeous mid-60’s day replete with plenty of sun! This led to one heck of an atmosphere, and it was a perfect few hours out there. Adding to this perfect atmosphere were the sights and sounds on the river. In no particular order, we saw a deserted barge (apparently it was parked there one day), some float houses, a little tree garden planted on top of a beached barge, and a ton of nature (that my partner and I agreed reminded us of the location of the culminating battle of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring). The beauty of this was that each kayak pair had the opportunity to go off and explore a bit, so .One fact that I love to share is that since Sitka is on the outer Baranof Island facing the Pacific Ocean and since the location we kayaked on was an estuary, I can (technically) say that I’ve kayaked on the Pacific Ocean!
All in all, words can’t describe how awesome it was to participate in this excursion. While you needed to be reasonably strong to paddle for that time, it was a great chance to get some upper body workout in while absorbing the beauty of Alaska and Sitka. If you want to feel closer to nature in a beautiful summertime setting, this is the activity for you!