Cordova to Seward, July 15 to August 2, 2021, 19 days, 170 nm

dmon707

Paddler
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
14
Location
San Francisco, CA
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This trip was planned to continue my tour of the Gulf of Alaska to include the coast from Kodiak to Cordova. I had reported Kodiak to Seward in 2019, but the Pandemic delayed my Cordova to Seward paddle until 2021.

From a wildlife perspective, this part of the Gulf was not as not as exciting as the Kodiak to Seward part, with the exception of Stellar Sea Lions. I encountered none in 2019, but there were plenty in Prince William Sound and they were very territorial. I had to bug out post haste more than once when charged by Stellar bulls. They can be quite intimidating reared up above you in the water and swimming towards you with foghorn-like trumpeting. If I got trapped, I wonder if I could have used my bear spray?

Also, at my last campsite on Hitchenbrook Island, I had a close encounter with a brownie sow and cub. I actually broke down and took a photo before I began the obligatory hollering and waving of arms. That performance only managed to frighten the cub, who scrunched up against mom. Mom didn't flinch. She just squinted in my direction and continued sniffing the air. Then she casually went on grazing for a few seconds before wheeling around with alarming speed into a bluff charge of all of about three feet. Any further and she would have had to swim. I nevertheless unlocked my bear spray, but they continued foraging down the inlet and were soon out of sight.

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And there were plenty of sea otters. Way too many as far as the good citizens of Cordova are concerned. They eat all the crab. Too bad we couldn't scoop some up and bring them down to California to eat sea urchins.

BTW, Cordova is a delightful Alaskan port town. No Walmart. Two hardware stores and a grocery right on main street. In Kodiak I had to walk 2 miles out of town just to buy eggs. Also, in Cordova I had a convenient build and launch for my Feathercraft from the beach at my hotel.

The biggest challenge for this paddle is finding haulouts/ campsites on northeastern Montague Island. I only found one that would withstand an 11-foot tide and another grassy buggy one that was good for a 12-footer. But I had to keep paddling down island to find anything that would withstand 13 feet. Hitchenbrook, however, had beautiful high gravel campsites aplenty. If you decide to try this trip, I suggest you plan your tides accordingly.

About photography: some of you guys take outstanding photos. A lot of work goes into that, and it's appreciated. I just have an iPad and don't have the time to wait for the right lighting. To try to compare what I see when I paddle the Alaskan coast-- the raw beauty that I've found only there-- with my flat little miles-away iPad photos is to realize the futility, at least for me, of trying to show you the beauty of this place.
 

Philip.AK

Paddler
Joined
Jun 30, 2012
Messages
175
Location
Kodiak, Alaska
Wow, you get after it. Nicely done! I too was a little disappointed with the sparse wildlife around Prince William Sound (only relative to Kodiak whe we are admittedly totally spoiled). I didn’t get menaced by Steller sea lions, but I enjoyed the much larger pods of ‘resident’ orcas than we have here in Kodiak which are all ‘transients.’

I don’t know if you have other plans in the works, but I fear you may have peaked as far as Alaska is concerned. Leaving Kodiak, going up the Shelikof Strait along Afognak Island, exploring Shuyak Island, then through the Barren Island, and finally the amazing Kenai Fjords to Seward is going to be hard (impossible?) to top. Then again, I sometimes do similar trips more than once (it helps to live here) and enjoy them more the second or third time since the weather and other factors are always different, and some real acquired local knowledge can be a fun multiplier.
 
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cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
885
Location
Bend OR USA
Ah Cordova … slowing the mind turns back to 1974. You haven’t lived until you’ve landed (by plane) in Cordova. In fact, you may not live if you land by plane in Cordova. It’s only been 47 years so I can still remember all those puddles, pot holes and flying rocks on the runway as we came down. And by “down”, I mean DOWN. And as you were wondering if the plane would stop before running into the lake, you couldn’t help but notice the tree line AND the mountain range just a short distance beyond it - the distance/hurdles you have for takeoff.

I’m glad you got to experience it at the water level.

You are a braver man that me. Even a three foot bluff would have scared the daylights out of me. But not as much as landing at the Cordova “airport”. :)
 
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dmon707

Paddler
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
14
Location
San Francisco, CA
There is a good airport in Cordova nowadays, several miles out of town. Alaska Airlines stops there first on its daily (?) milk run from Anchorage to Seattle. Alaska's got a new baggage rule that permits hard shell kayaks (with one paddle) as oversized baggage, but there's still the challenge of getting your boat from the airport to the sea.
 
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