Alaska is a huge state with a small population, 75% of which live in one town, Anchorage. The rest of the state is remote and largely inaccessible unless you have a plane, a helicopter, or a specialised boat. My main paddling destination, Bear Glacier, is one such remote area.
There are only two ways to get to Bear Glacier; by helicopter (at times dangerous in the incredible winds that can be produced over the ice-fields) , or via a specially designed boat which can travel in both big seas and shallow streams. And there is really only one of these, operated by Matt from Whittier Water Taxi.
Matt and his wife Heidi, who helped me organise most of my trip, are the type of people you hope to find on your travels. Open, knowledgeable and incredibly helpful, they went way beyond your average tour operator by making sure I saw the wilderness and wildlife so unique to Alaska, without being surrounded by the myriad of tourist-packed cruise ships so prolific in south-east Alaskan waters. Their knowledge of local animal and birdlife is incredible (in fact Heidi works at the nearby Alaska Sealife Centre and has a Masters of Ornithology) and the un-scheduled tour of the outlying islands off Resurrection Bay (and their various colonies of Puffins and Steller Sealions) was simply incredible.
The experience I had with these guys was sensational, and unexpected, since I had thought their role was literally going to be one of transport. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Matt and Heidi are true ambassadors for their state, and I wish them all the very best on their next adventure in Whittier, Prince William Sound. 🙂