Category: Kayaking

Guest Blog – Whack and Yak !!!

Yay, how exciting! Catherine supplied another guest blog for our entertainment. Here we go…

July 8th (the day we did the first polar plunge).


Whacking and Yaking Alaska Style
Today the Holmes crew decided to take on the Wilderness “Whack and Yak” challenge…an all day excursion that involved kayaking to a remote location (yes…remoter even than our normal remote) and then “bushwhacking” into the wilderness for a hike.  

Bushwhacking is hiking without any trail – you literally find a hole in the vegetation and start walking.  If you encounter a lake or a cliff or other impenetrable obstacle, you turn around and go a different way.  Our guide had an emergency phone and gps so we weren’t too worried about getting lost!  Having to yell “Hey Bear!” every few seconds was a little more troubling, especially after we stumbled across fresh droppings and “bear sleeping beds” of tamped down grass. In the end, that was as much bear as we saw on our bushwhacking and no one from our party was either lost or eaten!

Our kayaking out was beautiful and easy…we realized later that we were going with the current (more on that when we talk about the return trip…)


Once we were sufficiently remote, we beached our kayaks which made us all really appreciate the easy launcher and helpful hands on the boat.

Tory poses with a giant wall of mussels, and adds her own!


For some reason we have no photographic evidence of our bushwhacking hike – probably too concerned with avoiding bogs and bears.  I do recall eating a lot of wild blueberries and several very sketchy cliff climbs!

After lunch, it was time to try to get back into the kayaks and head alllllllllllllll the way back to the boat. 

Did I mention that we were now heading back against the current?  It was quite a long distance and we were all pretty worn out from our days exercise already.  


It was an awesome day and a great workout but it proved to be my last Whack and Yak although Tory and Mark ventured out again the next week while Olivia and I snorkeled again. 


Thank you, Catherine, for another entertaining look at our adventures.

Click HERE to arrive in Ketchikan, if you can.

Leaving Misty Fjords and Cruising to Ketchikan



It has been a struggle to reconstruct the last day’s journey without minute by minute photos. However, this map gives us a good idea of where we were and where we were going.

We came down the Behm Canal and anchored in Walker Cove. All of this is within Misty Fjords National Monument – a National Monument differs from a National Park in that it protects objects or wilderness areas of cultural, historical, and scientific value. For example, the Statue of Liberty is a National Monument.

Kathy shared these next images, taken after lunch, as we began to travel towards Ketchikan.


And some more from Lou:

This is such a beautiful area. We were feeling fortunate to have had the opportunity to play in Misty Fjords, and to soak up the reflections of the shore line, and grandeur of the fjords.

Click HERE to see the next post.

Walker Cove in Misty Fjords National Monument

Friday, 15 July 2016


We woke up – always a good thing – in Walker Cove, a beautiful and serene body of water where the reflections were mesmerizing, especially when the water was totally calm.

My photos for this day have gone missing, but fortunately Lou saved the day by capturing the morning activities. Kathy has supplied some shots from the afternoon, and I’ve got Catherine & Beth scouring their archives.


Perhaps an 8:30am start was too early for these two sleepy heads, but they soon recovered and were off for a long kayak paddle.

It is impossible to capture a photo of all four of the Holmes family looking ahead and smiling:

Click for larger version
Click for larger version


Click HERE for more Misty Fjords

Paddle Boards and More

The afternoon was all about hanging out in the cove and paddleboarding and kayaking. We saw a bear, and two crazy girls who couldn’t get enough of splashing around.

There go Olivia and Tory … wayyyyyy far away. Watch out girls, there are bears out there.


We enjoyed a nice dinner, and had a seat where we could look out the window … and sure enough, the bear came back to check things out.

Another Alaska day done. The girls spent the evening with new friends they’d made this week. The rest of us may have attended a presentation by an expedition guide, or we (most likely) went to bed early!

Click HERE for our final full day.

Afternoon Adventures – Chasing Tails

Steve was waiting for us when we returned from our Shorewalk. He had picked a more strenuous activity for the morning.

After lunch (it is so strange for me not to have documented every meal!), Beth and Catherine signed up for Sister Kayaking.

Just after the sisters returned, some of us headed out for a skiff. The gals waved us off, and we set out for what I assumed might be a dull but relaxing ride.

And then we saw … this!!!

We just missed a breaching whale. But we headed out towards the location and hung out for over an hour. We never saw another breach, but we saw many, many humpback whales diving and showing some tail. It was quite an experience to be sitting right on the water in the zodiac, with the whales nearby. We could hear them as well as see them. The following is just a small subset of our photos from this afternoon.

It approached 5pm, and our guide began to make a beeline back to the ship, not wanting to get yelled at for keeping us out too long (but truthfully, they were flexible when we had such a good wildlife sighting). Lou even cracks a smile … yeah, I’m sure he is smiling just a bit 🙂

We found a welcoming committee as we got back to the ship. What a fun day so far. It’s always a treat when both morning and afternoon adventures are winners.

We had some food for dinner (how’s that for investigative reporting?). As if we hadn’t already seen enough, the Captain announced whales in front of the ship at the end of dinner. We watched lots of different whales from about 8:15pm to 9:30pm. Some came very close to the ship.

The light was tricky – beautiful to see, difficult to photograph. By 9:30pm the sun had set and the sky was a rich golden color. A remarkable end to a very good day.

Click HERE to see what tomorrow brings.

Guest Blog: Mark Likes Kayaks!

Today’s guest blog is by Mark.  Thank you Mark, for giving us your thoughts on kayaking – which was very popular with the Holmes family.

The best part of the Alaska cruise was the kayaking and the freedom it allowed you to get into the nooks and crannies of the shoreline. While most of the time my main job was to “play engine” for my co-kayaker, Tory, (and once I even got to be the “engine” for a dual kayak with Sharon), it was still great to be able to go wherever we wanted, and have it be totally silent and still. We could sneak up on seals and eagles, and once we were even able to paddle within about 30 feet of a mother grizzly and her two cubs.

Every excursion off the boat was great, but getting out and getting to exercise and paddle on your own were the highlights of the trip for me.

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Thanks. Mark!  A great guest blog. 

Click HERE to read more about our adventures.