Aiming for adventure

by • April 4, 2017 • Highlights, ToastComments (0)52

Alaska’s waters are calling all boaters

Kayaking and camping at Shoup Bay out of Valdez is a bucket-list adventure. Picture by Melissa DeVaughn.

Kayaking and camping at Shoup Bay out of Valdez is a bucket-list adventure. Picture by Melissa DeVaughn.

One of Alaska’s greatest redeeming qualities is that mountains and oceans coexist in a convenient and spectacular partnership. Unless you live smack in the Interior, or in a remote Bush community, getting to saltwater takes little more than a tank of gas and some prior planning. And even landlocked folks have plenty of water-play opportunities, with vast lakes and long, wide rivers for playing.
In fact, Alaska boasts more than 3,000 rivers and 3 million lakes – yes, you read that number correctly. It has nearly 34,000 miles of shoreline, not counting inlets and islands, which would bring the total to something closer to 47,000 miles.
So it’s no wonder that boating is one of the best ways to experience Alaska. In the summer, steady streams of trucks pulling boats can be found making their way south for such points as Homer or Prince William Sound. Weekenders with small skiffs head for a weekend of fishing on the Kenai River or Homer. Sailors point their way toward the windy shores of Resurrection Bay.
But there’s an even better way to experience Alaska’s watery wonders – and for me, it has always been by paddle. Given the choice, I’ll go for a kayak, but canoeing and rafting can offer an up-close experience equally as thrilling.
This month, we explore the possibilities of paddle power throughout southcentral Alaska. As winter dwindles and the snow begins to disappear, folks are dusting off their boats and planning for the season. The options range from playing on local lakes to embarking on weekslong packraft adventures in the wilderness. In between are convenient weekend outings to distant lagoons and hidden inlets in such places as Halibut Cove, Tutka Bay and beyond. Read more about the options on pages 16-19.
If staying on solid ground is your answer to summer fun, then pounding the pavement has no limits either. April marks the racing season – and the 2017 Alaska Heart Run, set for April 22, is the premier kick-off race of the season. This 5K timed and untimed race is one of the largest running events in the state and benefits the American Heart Association. Check out the season’s potential competitors in the timed race, or cheer on a survivor in the untimed, celebratory event. Our running columnist, Mike Halko, shares some tips on being prepared for this race, which takes place on the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University campuses in Anchorage. Read more on Page 22.
For those clinging to the last of winter, never fear either. The ski season has been extended and both White Pages columnist Ben Napolitano (Page 12) and Sarah Zerkel, our 61 Degrees North writer (Page 28), share their excitement at a longer season of snow for those who love spring skiing and boarding.

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