GROWING UP in Vancouver and now living in the southeastern interior of British Columbia (Nelson), I’m no stranger to the wild. Twenty minutes out of town in all directions from where I live you lose your cell signal. But taking a media trip in 2013 showed me a whole other level of isolation and wilderness. We cruised for days on a small boat along the Inner Passage, traveling from Juneau south to Ketchikan, exploring glaciers, bays, and inlets, both from the water and from the land. Our hiking guides (one at the front, one at the back at all times) carried bear spray on their belts and made us yell and clap every couple of minutes. You may want to see a bear in the wild, but you don’t want that experience close up and definitely not by surprise.

[This post was produced with support from Un-Cruise Adventures. All photos used with permission with the photographers credited accordingly.]

1

Breaching humpback whale

During my trip with Un-Cruise we saw several humpback whales, but none that breached like this. I've seen humpbacks several times now and am still shut out on this scene. One day. Photo: Cameron Zegers

2

Wildlife viewing from a kayak

During my time in Alaska the closest I got to seeing bears was on one kayak trip when we were all separated. We got radioed by another group that there were some bears on the shore, but by the time we arrived they'd backed into the forest. One thing you need to accept is that there is never a guarantee of seeing any wildlife. This is not a zoo. Photo: JD Andrews

3

Kayaking amongst the glaciers

For my money, I'd much rather be in a motorless boat, powering it with my own strength, and listening to my surroundings without the noise of an engine. Photo: JD Andrews

Intermission
548

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1

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4

Alaskan Brown Bear

An easy way to distinguish a brown bear from a black bear is the hump between the shoulders. On my trip I learned that technically coastal brown bears are not referred to as grizzlies, although in general practice they are. Photo: Cameron Zegers

5

Launching the kayaks

The best was kayaking (or even standup paddleboarding) on glassy waters like this that we'd find in bays. Having guides around can be very interesting as they have so much knowledge, but it's also great to head out on your own to do some exploring. Photo: Peter West Carey

6

Feeding humpbacks

Humpback whales don't have teeth - instead they "lunge feed" and use their baleen to filter their food (like plankton). Photo: Peter West Carey

7

Glacier viewing from a skift

From the main boat we would take little expeditions on these smaller skifts to get closer to views (and to land if going hiking). I remember watching and hearing massive chunks of glacier calve into the ocean. It's an unbelievable sound...and we were close enough to get some good waves generated by this action. Photo: Cameron Zegers

8

Hottubbing on the boat

I love a good hot tub, and it doesn't get much better than hottubbing and being surrounded by absolute wilderness. There was one time the sun was setting and a couple of humpback whales were cruising by while we were sitting in the hot tub. I couldn't believe it was real. Photo: David Julian

9

Breaching humpback from the boat

It would be near impossible to not hear of something exciting happening on the boat as it's so small. Keep your camera handy at all times! Photo: Peter West Carey

Intermission
139

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1

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10

Bald eagle on an iceberg

Although bald eagles aren't super rare where I live, I never get tired of seeing them in the wild. They're immense and amazing to watch soaring on the wind. Photo: Ryan McNamee

11

Waterfall

There's certainly no shortage of water in Southeast Alaska. At every turn it seemed you'd see scenes like this. Getting up close to them on a kayak though was extra special. Photo: Ryan McNamee

12

Reid Glacier

It's well worth it so see glaciers like this one in Glacier Bay National Park, to have a good understanding of the scale of them and how they shape entire landscapes over time. Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler

13

Seal colony

If you've never heard a seal colony up close it's something to behold. So is the smell. Photo: Cameron Zegers

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