As high summer arrives, so too does the water beckon
I’m sitting on deck of the M/V Kennicott, basking in the fact that summer might actually be here. We’ve spent a weekend in Kodiak, an island made gorgeously green by the preponderance
of rainfall that douses the place year-round. However, we were lucky, and the sun shone high in the sky each day, luring every Kodiak Islander there outdoors.
Looking out over the water somewhere past Chenega Bay en route to Whittier, I watch a whale blow, it’s spray raining down like crys- tals on the glistening water. Dare I feel that glimmer of hope? For those of us who endured southcentral Alaska’s dismal spring, with nary a day above 55 until nearly Memorial Day, the arrival of 70-plus temperatures has us shell-shocked, like whitened, sun-leery vam- pires afraid to poke our heads out and face the brightness for real.
Around me, people strip off their socks and long-sleeved fleece, and roll up their pants legs to reveal halibut-white flesh that will surely crisp to a fine pink in less than an hour. But do we care? Not at all? This is Alaska, and summers here are so fantastically gorgeous yet torturously short that we don’t dare miss an opportunity for some Vitamin D therapy.
With this sunshine comes the need to be outside. In the middle of July, it is difficult to winnow down the outdoors options. Fishing on the Kenai? Sounds like a great time. Backpacking Resurrection Pass Trail? A must-do before the autumn rains arrive. Mountain biking in Talkeetna and camping in Denali both make the short list, too
However, this time of year in particular is when getting on the water is the best. Take time in July to explore the thousands of miles of coastal beauty that surrounds this vast state. Watching the boats pass by in Prince William Sound and the whales popping up spo- radically is a reminder that beyond the great landscape that makes up Alaska’s landmass is the surrounding infinity of water. Some of my favorite Alaska vacations ever have taken place on the water – kayaking Shuyak Island, camping in Shoup Bay out of Valdez, taking our skiff across Kachemak Bay and tucking into Little Tutka – all of these destinations require some camping know-how and above all how to stay safe on the water. But none of it is out of reach for even the beginner explorer. Alaska is – fortunately – filled with experts who can help one enjoy Alaska safely, all the while easing you into sourdough toughness.
For more on how to explore Alaska’s outermost edges, see our feature story beginning on Page 12. Here you can pick from a few of our favorite destinations – as mentioned above – as well as pick up the information necessary on where to turn for planning and preparation.
Also don’t overlook our annual WEIO and Salmonfest guides. Both of these events will be taking place in the next month and promise to entertain from terra firma – the WEIO games from Fairbanks and Salmonfest from the Kenai Peninsula fairgrounds in Ninilchik. These annual events are local favorites, so if you are visit- ing – come join we Alaskans for a taste of the best of Alaska both on land and at sea.