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Hiking and Paddling Combination adventures
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Diana Vann
(DianaV) - MLife

Locale: Wandering
Hiking and Paddling Combination adventures on 02/20/2012 12:24:30 MST Print View

This past weekend at the BPL Gathering of Gear Geeks, a number of fellow BPLers expressed an interest in exploring the possibility of combination hiking and kayaking adventures. This thread is in response to requests for additional information. A write up of my most recent paddling/hiking adventure, a journey from Loreto to La Paz, Baja, Mexico , can be found at Seattle Backpacker Magazine.

BPL trip reports have long illustrated that packrafting and backpacking go well together. Sea kayaking and backpacking and/or hiking can be complementary, too.

Many amazing wilderness locations are not accessible by foot. A great example of this is Glacier Bay, Alaska. A few years ago some companions and I kayaked 450 miles of Glacier Bay shoreline. We wanted to experience all of Glacier Bay by sea kayak, and we came very close to meeting that goal. Extreme weather conditions prevented us from going all the way up into one of the inlets, but that just gives us a reason to return to sometime in the future.
Dinner hour in Glacier Bay
Dinner Hour, Glacier Bay

This past weekend there was talk of putting together a BPL kayaking/hiking combination adventure. Possible locations to consider for such an adventure are as follows:

Circumnavigating Lake Tahoe: This is a great combination kayaking and hiking adventure, and it’s one I’ve done solo. Paddling the roughly 72 miles of shoreline is memorable, and there are several great places to hike along the way.
Paddling the Lake Tahoe Shoreline
The Lake Tahoe Shoreline

Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay: Imagine paddling to Angel Island, setting up camp, and then viewing the nighttime San Francisco shoreline while swapping adventure stories and sipping the beverage of your choice. Experienced kayakers could also circumnavigate Alcatraz Island as a day paddle. Hiking on Angel Island is another great daytime activity.

The San Juan Islands of Washington State: Multiple islands have Washington State Ferry access, which makes the San Juans an ideal destination for larger gatherings. One of the group sites at Spencer Spit State Park on Lopez Island accommodates up to 50 campers. A BPL gathering there would make it possible for those who don’t desire to paddle the sometimes challenging waters of Puget Sound to access the hiking trails on other islands.San Juans paddling

I'd be happy to suggest other possibilities to anyone who is interested.

Richard Niemi
(rickniemi) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains
Hiking and Paddling Combination adventures on 03/03/2012 12:28:40 MST Print View


I love hearing about your adventures.

Here are a few photos from some of my kayak trips.
Toba Inlet, BC
Toba Inlet, BC

Riggs Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska
Riggs Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska

Sail Geo
New propulsion unit for my car.

Edited by rickniemi on 03/03/2012 12:47:32 MST.

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Surf and Turf on 03/03/2012 22:42:17 MST Print View

We live in Southeast Alaska -- Juneau -- and do a lot of long distance touring paddling. Every couple of years we forget how awful bushwacking really is and plan a surf and turf trip along Lynn Canal or Stephen's Passage. A couple of years ago it was up Lynn Canal

Lion's Head

To the Endicott River, where we had hoped to line, then paddle the kayaks farther up river.

Lining the kayaks

That didn't work, so we made camp, sorted gear and went for a very long bushwhack through old growth devils club and past stumps that were cut 100 years ago.

Starting the bushwhack on the Endicott

The bears were ahead of us and that was good.
Brown Bear track on Endicott River

We walked for a while then turned around and paddled south for another trek from William Henry Bay to James Bay.

Lynn Canal against the Coast Range

Sunset/sunrise over the Chilkats

Edited by Umnak on 03/03/2012 22:46:33 MST.

Don Morris
(hikermor) - F
Hiking and Paddling on 03/04/2012 16:23:47 MST Print View

Consider the Channel Islands. Lots of nice trips there, particularly involving San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Hiking and Paddling on 03/05/2012 13:19:36 MST Print View

+1 on the outer Channel Islands. Santa Rosa Island has opportunities in the late summer/early fall for kayak touring around the island and camping on secluded beaches.

I've been toying for a couple of years with trying to put together a paddle camping trip down the Green River in Utah on paddleboards (prone or SUP). Different medium, but similar concept to the kayak camping.

The Sea of Cortez trip looked really awesome. I had a friend attempt a downwind tour through the Sea of Cortez in an outrigger sailing canoe a few years back but they had to abandon the trip after about a day or two due to uncooperative winds.

Edited by NickB on 03/05/2012 13:20:56 MST.

Diana Vann
(DianaV) - MLife

Locale: Wandering
Being close to wolves and whale sharks on 03/07/2012 19:05:21 MST Print View

@Richard Niemi. Your kayak sails look particularly cool! I know that on your Glacier Bay trip you spent some time in Adams Inlet. Did you see any wolves while you were in there? We'd heard that we might see wolves in Adams Inlet, but we didn't spot any there. Our party did end up camping very close to several wolves in the Scidmore Inlet of Glacier Bay, so we stayed there an extra night and day to observe them. They were traveling through a river drainage, and they would come out onto the beach in the mornings and afternoons. We were separated from the wolves by a small amount of salt water, which may have made them comfortable enough to come out in the open while we were there. I had always wanted to see wolves in the wild, but other than one quick glimpse of one wolf in my youth, I'd never before been that lucky. I've seen countless bears, both brown (grizzly) and black, but spending time in close proximity with the wolves was an incredible experience, and a dream come true for me.

@Joseph. A Lynn Canal trip is on my list of want-to-do Alaska adventures.

@Don. I agree that there are some great Channel Island trips. One thing that's particularly great about some of the sea caves there is that much of the time they are accessible to paddlers of all skill levels.

@Nicholas. Yes, the Baja, Sea of Cortez trip was totally awesome. The interface between land and sea there really appeals to me. I love hiking in the very early mornings and late afternoons when the light is soft. When we're moving locations (which involves paddling to the new campsite) we try to make camp early enough in the afternoon to leave time for snorkeling. A huge highlight of that recent trip was swimming with whale sharks. A new post about the whale shark experience can be found here .

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Re: Being close to wolves and whale sharks on 03/10/2012 13:06:46 MST Print View

@Joseph. A Lynn Canal trip is on my list of want-to-do Alaska adventures.

Come on up. Lynn Canal is a short trip, but there are a lot of other routes out of Juneau. We've enjoyed circumnavigating Admiralty Island or bouncing of the the ABCs to or from Sitka. None of the cold and regulations that you get in Glacier Bay.

Richard Niemi
(rickniemi) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains
"Hiking and Paddling Combination adventures" on 03/20/2012 20:36:37 MDT Print View

My sail is a blast! I used it a lot while fishing in the Monterey Bay.

On our trip to Glacier Bay we spent about 3 or 4 days around Adams Inlet. While on the island in the middle of Adams a grizzly swam from the mainland to the island to pay us a visit. Something else very large crashed through the bushes towards us as we pumped fresh water so we decided to get out of there and head to are camp on the mainland. We never found out what was coming through the woods. Within miles of Adams Inlet way up on the mountain sides there were hundreds of goats. They look like little specks. We did see a mother and baby down near the water up near Muir Glacier. We didn’t see any wolves around Adams but on the day we were picked up by the packer’s boat we toured the West Arm of Glacier Bay and on the tour we spotted two wolves on the shore. Glacier Bay is a wonderful place to paddle! I will return.

I've done some paddling around Santa Cruz and Anacapa Island in Southern Cal. Great area!

Diana Vann
(DianaV) - MLife

Locale: Wandering
Re: Lynn Canal and hiking in Alaska on 04/02/2012 21:14:55 MDT Print View

@ Joseph,

You live in a great playground--at least in the summer. I spent a month there one winter, and it sure was dark. I did get to see the northern lights on several occasions though, and that was quite memorable! Believe it or not, I did a little paddling there in February, as the days started getting longer.

I know it's a long way from where you live, but have you done any hiking up in the Brooks Range? The Gates of the Arctic is very high on my list of future backpacking trips.

I'm not sure I'd ever be up for the major coordinating effort that would be involved in putting one together, but It's fun to imagine holding a BPL GGG type event in southeast Alaska for those who want to add paddling to their mix of outdoor activities.

When coming to Alaska for longer expeditions, on a couple of occasions I've "met up" with less experienced paddling friends and family members in both Juneau and Sitka for some day hiking and padding. A particular highlight was an overnight kayaking trip out to Berners Bay. When I was in the area last (it's been quite a few years now since I've been in the Juneau area) a big debate was raging over whether or not to extend the road that leads out to that area. What ever happened with that issue?

Juneau has some great day hikes, too, and a visit to Juneau, or even to Sitka, would be an easy place to start (perhaps for some camping and paddling, utilizing a spot like Starrigavan campground as a base). I also love staying at the Juneau Hostel when I'm passing through on the ferry, and that might be a great place as an initial meeting place for BPLers, too.

The Lynn Canal would be a fun paddling destination. When I finally get around to it, I'll paddle there in conjunction with a larger trip.

I've done most of the Sitka-to-Hoonah (we took a water taxi to the Khaz Head area rather than padding there from Sitka) paddling trip. The stop at White Sulphur Springs was great. We had to stay put there for several days because of a big storm on the ocean, but it was fun to soak in the hot springs while we waited for the weather (and especially the sea state) to improve. Watching Humpbacks and Orcas at Point Adolphus was something I'll never forget. Future trips may include some padding in the Frederick Sound area. I understand that the whale watching is incredible there, too.

@Richard. Adding a sail to a kayak is definitely fun. I've done some of that on Baja trips. But when the wind rises suddenly, the sail can become rather difficult to manage (at least for me).

I wonder if that crashing you heard in Adams Inlet was a moose. I want to go back to Glacier Bay, this time focusing primarily the east arm. When I do, I want to spend a significant amount of time in Adams Inlet. As you're no doubt aware, the valley to the east of Adams Inlet, leading to Endicott Gap, was the migration corridor into the area (for land animals) when the glaciers began to recede.