Ketchikan to Haines, Alaska

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Paddle Trip(A Level 4 Trip)
Ketchikan to Haines Alaska
This is a 375 nautical mile trip that can be done by most any experienced kayaker. There are a few days of isolated paddling , but for the most part you will see motor vessels and planes along the route. We were packed for 23 nights, but did this trip in 15 camps. Most people take twice as long and get a chance to enjoy the beaches along the way. We never start these trips with the intention of doing them fast, but something happens after the first couple of days and we just want to stay in our boats and paddle. So we do.
Trip Overview:This is classic Inside Passage kayaking. There may be days of calm water and then days of a strong opposing wind. We tend to think of this route as crowded, but that is in relation to the less traveled passages in Southeast that we explore. There may be a boat a day away from the four towns along the route. Communication with VHF and 2 meter radio is available. My satellite phone was able to connect more reliably away from the coast than on the shore. There are a number of potentially tricky points and capes, which should only be rounded on the end of the flood with a following wind.

Paddling time and distance: a 15 day, 375 mile sea kayaking trip.

Route: We took the ferry to Ketchikan and paddled north, keep the Coast to our right. We entered Ernest Sound from Clarence Strait, paddled against a strong head wind up Zimovia Strait, past the City of Wrangell, and across Dry Strait into Frederick Sound. After 6 long days of a northerly we doubled Cape Fanshaw and moved into Stephen’Äôs Passage where the winds diminished. Four days later we were in Lynn Canal and two camps after that had reached Haines. The last 6 days we averaged over 25 nm a day and managed 40 nm one of those days. We were rocking!

Paddling Tips: This trip can be done any time from late April through October. There are really no major crossings. We relied on a compass and GPS to cross one of the many inlets as a fog moved in while we paddled. take outs and rest.

Stretch Your Legs: Beaches are abundant, but make sure you check the bottom if you plan to leave on a low or minus tide. Tidal ranges increase as you move north where there can be a 20 foot difference. Stopping in Wrangell, Petersburg or Juneau is an option if you want to take your time.

One Paddler's Story:As noted in other reports, this group has paddled together for close to 8 years. Our two friends have Mariner kayaks. We use fire to cook and sleep under tarps, tarps are essential for the rain forest climate. We paddled a Romany Explorer and a Solstice GT on this trip. We sold the Romany Explorer to a hand on the Ferry when we arrived in Haines. It weighs too much (75 lbs) and doesn’t hold enough for a really long trip, even if you are an Ultralight paddler.

-- Trip contributed by Joseph

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