Seldovia & Cooper Landing: Oceans & Rivers

 

Everyone was very exicited to hear about the Seldovia trip my mom & dad had planned.

We started out in the morning hours cruising across the bay towards Gull Rock. Almost immediately the captain heard on the radio that a whale was in the area, and the whole boat slowed down to look for it. It wasn’t long before we spotted it in the distance, lifting its tail out of the water.

A perfect angle on the quintessential Alaskan shot.

A perfect angle on the quintessential Alaskan shot.

It dove deep, but the boat stayed put, everyone hoping we could get another glimpse of this majestic animal. And sure enough, it did breach again, this time only several dozen feet from the boat!

The breath of a whale.

The breath of a whale.

Everyone fell silent as it came up again, and the only thing you could hear was the puff of it blowing steam inot the air, glistening in the morning sunlight. It was amazing, and something that we had never expected. Seeing the whale was amazing, but hearing it, in the quiet, out on the water, was something else.

The bay was calm and the winds were slow, making for a good day out on the water.

The bay was calm and the winds were slow, making for a good day out on the water.

After the whale left for good, the boat headed over to Gull Rock: a small craggy island that was home to thousands of seabirds, including Black-Legged Kittiwakes, Tufted Puffins, and Common Murres, my mom’s favorite due to the fact that they look like mini-penguins. They can also swim really well, using their wings to seemly fly underwater.

Common Murre, captured in flight by young photo master Jack.

Common Murre, captured in flight by young photo master Jack.

As we headed along the coastline in Kachemak Bay State Park, we also saw a lot of cool things including some bald eagles,

We saw a juvenile Bald Eagle fly away, looked like it hadn’t yet gotten its white head feathers which give it its name.

We saw a juvenile Bald Eagle fly away, looked like it hadn’t yet gotten its white head feathers which give it its name.

And another one flew by with a fish in its talons. This was also taken and edited by Jack.

And another one flew by with a fish in its talons. This was also taken and edited by Jack.

and these houses on an island. Most of them were summer cabins, owned by people from Homer or elsewhere on the peninsula, who came down here to fish, kayak and enjoy the beach.

Wouldn’t you want to spend some time here? I know I would!

Wouldn’t you want to spend some time here? I know I would!

And last but not least, we chanced upon a raft of sea otters, at least a hundred of them, floating in the middle of the bay. There were big ones and small ones, rolling over each other or just looking serene and chill.

Sea Otters are very common in Southern Alaska’s coastal waters.

Sea Otters are very common in Southern Alaska’s coastal waters.

The town of Seldovia itself was small and sleepy. Not much seemed to be open, and there was almost no one driving around. Scattered throughout the town were large wooden scultpures, carved by chainsaw.

Chainsaw carving of large animal-inspired sculptures seems to be a thriving art around Seldovia.

Chainsaw carving of large animal-inspired sculptures seems to be a thriving art around Seldovia.

We had a bit of time off the boat, and had decided to hike to nearby Outside Beach on the Otterbaun Trail (this has got to be one of the best trail names ever). The trail was short and easy, and when we got to the beach, we had quite a surprise.

#adventuregirl

#adventuregirl

There were jellyfish by the thousands, washed up on the beach or floating around in the water. We carefully avoided them as best we could, but Jack still got stung just by putting his hand into the water. Yike!

Jellyfish season! They were everywhere.

Jellyfish season! They were everywhere.

On our way back, the wind picked up and we bounced over the waves. My parents chatted with the captain, who let Emma and Leo take turns driving the boat!

After a couple more days in Homer, we packed up and headed back north along the Sterling Highway. We stopped for one night in Soldotna, then moved on to a friends place in Cooper Landing.

On the way there, we noticed smoke coming from the hill ahead. Being in Homer and before that Seward, there had been no smoke or haze in the area for a while. We were stunned to see the hillside ahead of us on fire! Literily, there were whole sections of trees going up in flames. We passed by as quickly as we could, thankful we made it past before it got bigger. It was only later, as the Swan Lake fire regained its size and threatened nearby towns, that we realized just how close we had been.

The Swan Lake Fire flared back up the day we chose to drive north. It only got bigger after that.

The Swan Lake Fire flared back up the day we chose to drive north. It only got bigger after that.

We spent the afternoon fishing in the frigid and glacial-blue Kenai River, and enjoying a campfire as summer wound to a close.

Jack waiting for the bite on the Upper Kenai River.

Jack waiting for the bite on the Upper Kenai River.

We returned to Anchorage right after that to fix some parts on the RV, and spent some time in the city. Wwe finally checked out the Anchorage Museum, which was super cool and full of interesting exhibits, including a vast collection of indigenous art & artifacts.

Emma taking a break in these extremely comfy cushions.

Emma taking a break in these extremely comfy cushions.

We also visited Kincaid Park, on the coast of cook inlet. We hiked the Bluff Trail through a forest full of fall colors to a grassy beach where we found moose prints.

Fall arrives early in Alaska- mid-August, in fact!

Fall arrives early in Alaska- mid-August, in fact!

A secluded beach in Kincaid Park.

A secluded beach in Kincaid Park.

As well as a sandy beach remisnent of coasts much further south. We had some fun playing on the dunes.

Endless beaches!

Endless beaches!

Jack taking flight during a game of jump-off-the-dunes-with-style.

Jack taking flight during a game of jump-off-the-dunes-with-style.

When it was time to leave, summer was definitively over, the mountains had turned a reddish color and the days were getting shorter, colder and rainier. It was time to venture back out into the wilds to see what Alaska could offer in the brief period between summer and winter before heading back to the Lower 48. And the first stop was Denali National Park, the main attraction in the state and the biggest peak in North America.

I will update you in the next blog. Stay tuned!

Cheers,

Connor.

 
Connor Malson