At 8:46 am when the first plane struck the North Tower, I was driving in the Holland tunnel to New Jersey. The Photo Studio I managed had relocated from Manhattans Union Square area, and I was making a reverse commute. When everyone was coming into NY, I was going out. the impact was initially reported on the radio as a small plane. Then shortly later corrected to a full size airliner. I looked in my rear view mirror and could see the North tower burning. A friend and co-worker was in my old beaten up truck with me, and we decided to continue on to the studio. Shortly after that the second plane hit the south tower. Life in lower Manhattan would never be the same.
I tell you this story because it was that day, sitting in my office at the photo studio, watching the news, and trying to get into contact with my family, that I pulled out a map of Alaska and thought of being some place beautiful, and peaceful. When times are bad for me I retreat to the wilderness. I had been to Alaska in 2000 and it was still fresh in my mind. I had paddled Prince William Sound for the first time that year, and it would start an obsession that continues to this day.
I looked at that map of Alaska, and here was the plan I hatched on that day in September of 2001. I would paddle my kayak from Ketchikan Alaska to Skagway Alaska. The inside passage. Roughly 350 miles of amazing Alaskan rain forest. While in 2000 I was already a skilled kayaker, I was but on the beginning of my journey. I realized quickly that my touring kayak wouldn't hold enough gear. I would need a better tent, along with a lot of other gear And really, my skill level should have been higher. I spent the next ten years plotting, planning and building skills. Every time I needed a piece of gear I thought about the inside passage. Every time I packed a kayak I thought about the inside passage. I have been back to Alaska 4 times in that decade. I also paddled the British Columbia coast - their section of the inside passage, the more difficult section - Not to mention all the other places I had put a kayak in the water. But still the Alaskan section called to me. I became an instructor for the school that taught me. But still, in the back of my head, Alaska whispered. She said 'you still haven't done it. I am waiting for you.'
Two years ago I got close to finding someone to do the trip with me. But too many things got in the way. I work for a major outdoor retailer (MOR) and we have a dry erase board for people looking for something fun to do. You can write, 'going climbing Thursday, who wants to go?' Finally, about four months ago, I looked at that board and wrote 'Paddling the inside passage, who wants to go?' I got tired of making her wait.
A surprising number of people let me know that they were interested. People with all sorts of skill levels. In the next eleven months I am going to journal the process, the planning, and the trip. There will be pictures, and video. There will be a trip to Alaska's Inside Passage.