As a child, I was constantly being told to “Go outside!” My parents encouraged my siblings and me to gather with friends and go outside to play. Play football, capture the flag or any game we could devise! As the years passed they pushed me to play outside, this time in canoes and kayaks, exploring the natural world around me. Little did they know (or maybe they knew), they had planted a seed for what was to come.
I’ve always loved the open coast. Wild. Remote. Windswept. My first sea kayak expedition in Alaska was in Kenai Fjords NP. We took a water taxi from Seward to Aialik Bay and were dropped for days of fantastic kayaking in the fjords. Mesmerized by the landscape, it was nearly a perfect trip. Loads of glaciers, soaring peaks, wildlife, and supreme wild camping sparked a love affair with the coast I now call home. The only thing that kept the trip from being perfect was riding past massive cliff faces of Aialik Head in a water taxi. I wanted to paddle this, experience this, in a kayak.
Fast-forward ten years, I was leading a British couple past Aialik Head on the second day of a self-supported expedition from Seward to Homer (read trip report). I spent a decade growing as a sea paddler, developing as a rough water kayak coach, and guiding paddlers on exposed coastlines around the world. This time, I was not riding in a water taxi. We were paddling past the massive headland and I was responsible for the safety of two lovely people as we headed out for 15 days on an extremely exposed and remote coast.
The expedition from Seward to Homer was a success. As we rounded Gore Pt. and headed further west, the mountains of the Aleutian Peninsula came in view. What would it be like to paddle to (and in) Katmai National Park? My mind started running DED Reckoning calculations for the distance and time it would take to cross from the closest islands. Visualizing all the pieces that would need to be put in place to be successful.
What is around the next headland? The Outsider Expedition is about exploring that next bit of open coast – from Vancouver to the Aleutians. I’ve kayaked hundreds of miles of the Alaska coastline – just enough to wet my appetite (and then, there is British Columbia). So much coastline remains to EXPLORE. Paddling distances from one remote city to the next. Playing in the tide races, overfalls and bore waves created by extreme tide changes. Sharing THIS PLACE with different friends and paddling partners. The opportunity to be free on the open coast.