The sea kayaking season here in the Prince William Sound kicked off with a bang! The first trip of the 2018 paddling season was chock full of wildlife like only the Prince William Sound can provide. I had the pleasure of leading this Gold Creek trip with a wonderful couple from Oklahoma and I’m already a little worried it will be hard to top this year but you never know!
The trip started off just like every other Gold Creek day trip and we loaded into the kayaks from our dock in the harbor and paddled out past the salmon seiners and the Stan Stephens boats. We paddled along the jagged, rocky shoreline of Blueberry Hill glimpsing seal heads and some sea otters frolicking in the water. So far so good, a pretty standard paddle along Blueberry Hill, but as we crossed Mineral Creek draining into the Port, my client saw a black bear walking along the Shoup Bay Trail! We paddled over towards it but as we got closer it spooked and ran off into the brush before we could snap a photo.
After the bear sighting, which have become rare in the sound in recent years, we continued and had the right tide to paddle in this beautiful little lagoon with a big waterfall cascading into the water.
We continued our paddle along the shore line towards the beach at Gold Creek where we hopped out of the kayaks to go for a quick walk to look at the Gold Creek Waterfalls and check out the beautiful temperate rainforest that Valdez and the Prince William Sound are famous for! While we hiked we found a porcupine kill and some huge grizzly bear tracks! (Not necessarily related but I like to think so)
After our short walk in the woods we collected some fiddleheads and headed back to the kayaks for lunch. As we walked we noticed what appeared to be fresh bear tracks following ours! We got back to the boats and as we ate we heard and saw a young humpback breathing from the beach to round off the day. Or so we thought! While we finished eating some Ugly Fruit I heard a rustling behind me and with those big brown bear tracks fresh in my mind, went to go check it out. Much to my surprise there was a brown bear ambling down the hill not 100 feet away from us! I attempted to scare it off while also getting back into our kayaks. My attempts were successful for a while and then the most amazing thing happened! The bear came out onto the beach where we had been sitting and we got to spend the next hour hanging out with what appeared to be a two year old brown bear, and apparently a really hungry one!
We paddled with the bear for the whole way back to Mineral Creek where I got the attention of Jared, Bagel, and Sami who were leading a high school Marine tech class from the local H.S. so they could enjoy the bear as well.
What a way to start the season off! A black bear, brown bear, humpback whale, tons of seals and sea otters all in a six hour paddle right from the harbor! Hopefully I didn’t use all my wildlife luck on my first trip.