One of the great perks about working at Great Alaska Adventures is being able to kayak after work. While the kayaks are there for client use, staff can also partake and I will tell you that that is a great thing. Without having access to a bike or a car to go elsewhere to hike, it is nice to get my workout in by kayaking. I definitely need to build my upper body strength and this is the perfect way to do it.
The last time I kayaked I was in high school, but as the old cliche goes, it’s like riding a bike – once you learn, you don’t forget.
The Great Alaska Adventure Lodge sits at the confluence of the Moose and Kenai Rivers, and is a hot spot during the salmon runs. Salmon, I’ve been told, will sit where the rivers meet for a “rest” as they make their way back to their spawning grounds up the Kenai. The other day, I witnessed my first King Salmon (Chinook) leap from the water and I have to say it was a magical moment. As someone who has not fished since I was a child, I can definitely see the appeal.
The Kenai River primarily consists of glacial melt, giving it a magnificent turquoise hue. The Moose River, on the other hand, is primarily formed by rain water and other sediment. We are strongly advised not to go down the Kenai because it is swift moving and there is no easy way to get back to the Lodge. The Moose is placid and serene, making it easy to kayak upstream.
About a mile up from the Lodge, the Moose takes you into the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The area is known for terrific birding and on my first day out on the kayak, I was not disappointed. I saw seagulls, ducks, swans, rednecked-grebes, and bald eagles.
I had the privilege of seeing a juvenile bald eagle and an adult bald eagle fighting some twenty feet above my head! I also saw a rednecked grebe nesting in the middle of the river.
On one particular kayak run up the river, the river was particularly low, and my friend kept bottoming out and getting stuck. At one point, I kayaked back upstream and rammed into him to try and get him unstuck. It kind of worked. He jokingly remarked, upon hitting the refuge boundary, that he was half expecting to see a moose and a bear dancing together. Unfortunately, that did not come to fruition…
We also had not brought our phones or a watch with us, so we had no way to tell how much time had passed. It was a pretty cool experience, to be timeless and utterly in the moment, and we ended up being out for four hours.
Another experience kayaking did not yield much wildlife, but it was cool nonetheless. We were treated to a giant smoke plume from a wildfire some 30 miles away from Sterling, Alaska. Kayaking is fun and relaxing and I can’t wait to do it more.