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Adventure Activities

I love small ship expeditions! The focus is always on getting off the ship to explore the area. In the case of Southeast Alaska's Inside Passage, that exploration might mean a hike, kayak, paddleboard or even float plane. We tried to fit in as many different activities as we could.

Hiking in the temperate rainforest of Southeast Alaska is all about the gear. Though I rarely worry too much about the specifics of a packing list (figuring I can get by), I was grateful that I had taken the National Geographic Quest's suggestions for rain gear seriously. Every day the weather changed frequently such that we might layer up in a fleece, rainjacket and gloves only to end up wearing a T shirt or vice versa. Having a small backpack along for the hikes allowed me to adapt my wardrobe to the ever changing weather and enjoy the scenery regardless. 

The high annual rainfall creates a lush environment where plants and fungus thrive. Trees are draped in mosses and ferns spread across the forest floor. The ship was divided into small groups for hiking that were further categorized into easy, moderate or 'bushwhacking' hiking options. 

Mushrooms in rainforest of SE Alaska
Mushrooms in rainforest of SE Alaska (Mary Curry)
Rainforest hike Sitka, Alaska
Rainforest hike Sitka, Alaska (Mary Curry)

Water Based Activities

The stunning fjords, ice filled glacial waters, and surprising tidal wildlife also provide great opportunities for kayaking, zodiac cruises, or paddleboarding. The National Geographic Quest had a variety of single and double kayaks and paddleboards in sufficient numbers that everyone could sign up for their desired activity. Typically the ship split into a land based group hiking and a water based group that went kayaking / paddleboarding or taking a zodiac cruise.  This allowed them to keep groups small with naturalists leading each of the hiking groups and plentiful staff assisting with the water based support. 

While kayaking and paddleboarding we saw starfish, jellyfish and sea urchins along the rocky coastline. Salmon could be spotted heading toward the coastal streams and occasionally we saw seals popping their heads up in the distance. The seals were particularly skiddish but that is where the paddleboard was especially helpful for wildlife viewing. I paddled out to the middle of a sheltered bay and sat silently on the paddleboard watching. Within a couple of minutes, a seal popped up a few feet from my board looking a bit perplexed at what new sort of marine wildlife I might represent. 
Kayaking in Inian Islands
Kayaking in Inian Islands (Mary Curry)
Paddleboarding and Kayaking in Alaska's Inside Passage
Paddleboarding and Kayaking in Alaska's Inside Passage (Mary Curry)
Paddleboarding in Alaska's Inside Passage
Paddleboarding in Alaska's Inside Passage (Mary Curry)

Float Plane
Float Plane Petersburg Alaska
Float Plane Petersburg Alaska (Mary Curry)

Though all other activities were included, we also had the very special opportunity to book an optional flightseeing tour to LeConte Glacier on a float plane. The plane had space for 6 passengers at a time so the National Geographic Quest staff had arranged for departures throughout the day while we were in Petersburg, alternating with other activities (biking, hiking, zodiac cruises, etc). The float plane was an incredible experience. Take off and landing were so much smoother than a traditional plane and the pilot was a character. He quickly figured out that our group was going to be a handful when one of our passengers asked 'how was that beer at lunch?' as we walked up. He didn't skip a beat in his retort... 'fantastic, would you like one?' and the banter continued throughout our voyage. 

Float Plane Petersburg
Float Plane Petersburg (Mary Curry)

Joking aside, he was also a great pilot, maneuvering us right up to the glacier and taking various passes by so that passengers on both sides could get photos. We were advised by staff onboard to wear dark, solid colors that wouldn't reflect in our photos. 
LeConte Glacier, Petersburg, Alaska
LeConte Glacier, Petersburg, Alaska (Mary Curry)

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