IT REALLY ISN’T like me to go on a guided tour. But for the average adventurer to experience a week in the wildness of the Alaska Panhandle as I recently did, there probably isn’t a better way to go about it.
Southeast Alaska, that sliver of the American state that may as well be part of British Columbia, is riddled with islands; most of the area is inaccessible by road — air and water is the preferred method of transport. As my partner and I descended into Juneau, I was taken aback by the wild landscape and the enormous scale. And I live in the mountains of BC. What struck me the most was the lack of evidence of human activity. I didn’t see clearcuts; I didn’t see logging roads. I just saw hordes and hordes of trees and mountains and valleys. Untouched.
While I was there as a media invite, hosted by Un-Cruise Adventures, I was sort of a secret shopper. Neither the staff nor guests on the boat knew my status, and I was able to experience the trip as everyone else (this cannot be said of most press trips). The way I was treated during meals and activities like hiking, kayaking, standup paddleboarding, and even polar plunging, was how all the other guests were treated. And we had the time of our lives.
We boarded the boat (24 other passengers and I) in Juneau and made our way south, meandering through islands, exploring coves and bays. Skiffs (small motorboats) brought us to shore for hikes and to get closer to glaciers. The staff was always on the lookout for wildlife, pointing out anything of interest and offering knowledge of the area. The guides (one of which has summited Everest) were on-point and gave interpretive talks, explaining the region and the life within it.
Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas, and we explored just a tiny fraction of it. I can’t wait to go back.
* Carlo was a guest of Un-Cruise Adventures on their Inner Reaches Eastern Coves tour. All photos by author, except where noted.