Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kodiak Island

My first destination in this large state was going to be an island south of the mainland and I timed my trip perfectly. The Kodiak Island Crab Festival was happening!

To get to Kodiak I had to board another ship and found it wasn't just a small trip..9hours later we arrived! We left Homer (the mainland) in perfect sunshine and arrived to rain.
However out of place I looked wearing shorts in the rain in Alaska I wasn't put off and still made it to the camp ground to set up my tent in the rain. The next day I was expecting the best out of Kodiak's festival, the rain didn't keep people away, when you live in Kodiak you just get on with life and ignore the weather. The best thing about the crab festival was the King Crab...dirt cheap and super fresh...yum!

I filled as much of the day in as possible watching the festival events then decided a nice brew would help dry me out and an get me out of the rain for a while. 4 hours and 2 large pints of stout and it was still raining outside (brewery licences allow only x2 pints in Alaska). I gave up and went home to my tent to wish for better weather tomorrow.

It was raining when i got up the next day! Since the locals were out and about I ignored the fact I was riding a bicycle and they were in cars whilst it was raining. The brewery visit opened up a guided tour of the coast guard base from a fellow patron but that only lasted 3 hours of the 18hours of sunlight so I ignored the rain and rode out to a 'Lord of the Rings' Forrest (Spruce trees covered in lichen/moss) and walked the rain.

The next morning waking up to the rain again I decided that it would never stop so I organised to go walk-about anyhow...even the locals thought I was crazy! The walk took me to a different part of the Island where I found that it didn't always rain...I had 6 hours sunshine in 3 days!

The walk was stunningly beautiful along the coastline. Cliff faces, meadows, moss covered spruce trees, streams and inlets to cross and beaches to walk along (in the rain). My animal encounters included seals, bigger white giant seals, whales, Orca's trying to catch a seal, bison and most impressive of all were the Bald Eagles. The campsite to beat all campsites was when I woke up to Bald Eagles sitting on a log not 5m from my tent! I spent an hour thinking how lucky this stupid Australian was and that not many Americans have even seen an Bald Eagle let along this close (in the rain). Sadly I did not see any Kodiak Brown bears (supposedly bigger than mainland bears) perhaps it is fortunate that I didn't see any.

I had my birthday on Kodiak Island so I spent the day climbing a mountain only for the cloud to obscure everything before I got to the top.. That night I set up camp in amongst some pine trees a short trip away from a dehydrated food for Tim's birthday dinner. Fresh beer, clam chowder and some interesting locals to talk to before retiring to my tent to sleep to the sound of raindrops. Happy 27th Birthday Tim :)

The ride back to Homer was far more eventful than the trip out. The boat left late (it was raining), got delayed further waiting for the local fishing boats, was delayed at the next port and a storm en route slowed us even further. We arrived 4 hours late. The trip was how you should travel the authentic way across sea in Alaska. The Alaska Marine Highway boats are basic, they do offer cabins but the best way is to join everyone else and lay out your sleeping mattress and sleep on the deck (enclosed fortunately). The only downside is that the waves were that big I found my sleeping bag wouldn't stick to the thermarest and I would slide back and forth with the swell...kind of a gigantic water bed!