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Trip 7. Seabirds and Glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park, 2-day Option
Date: Saturday, 29 June to Sunday, 30 June
Start and end times: 7 am Saturday, 29 June, to Sunday, 30 June, before 5 pm
Cost: AOS registration fee is $475 per adult, $365 per child (ages 2–11). This covers costs of the van, boat tour, Alaska Sealife Center tour, and overnight lodging (double occupancy; other options below). Cost of meals (except lunch on boat) will be paid for individually by participants.
Lodging options: We have six rustic King cabins reserved for Saturday night at Abode Well Cabins near Exit Glacier, in a secluded rainforest setting on the outskirts of Seward. Each cabin has a king-size bed and an optional rollaway bed, a full private bath, a mini fridge and other amenities. Trip rates quoted above are for shared double-occupancy of a cabin, ideal for a couple. Anyone booking individually can reserve the king-bed option ($488 total trip cost) or the less expensive rollaway-bed option ($462 total trip cost) within a cabin for a bed to yourself. Please note your request for a roommate by name or gender when you register for the field trip. Anyone wishing to book a cabin for sole occupancy, or for a couple with one child, please contact the trip organizers via firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible with your specific request for options and pricing. The cabins are hosted by the renowned Seavey family, multigenerational champions of the ~1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome. Their champion sled dogs can be visited nearby on the family’s homestead.
Maximum participants: 10
Meals: Participants should eat breakfast before start of the trip. Lunch on Day 1 is included on the boat—a chicken or hummus wrap, Alaska chips, fruit, granola bar, and cookie; those wanting the vegetarian option need to let trip leaders know ahead of the trip; those with other dietary restrictions should plan to bring their own lunch that day. We will stop for dinner at a local restaurant (not included in trip cost). On Day 2 we will stop at restaurants for breakfast and lunch (not included in trip cost) and be back to Anchorage before dinner.
Trip Leader(s): TBA
Trip Description: Depart from the Hilton Hotel in downtown Anchorage at 7 am on Saturday to drive to Seward (~2.5 hours) by van. We will drive along the beautiful Turnagain Arm and across Turnagain Pass—the drive from Anchorage to Seward is one of the nicest in the whole state. At 10:30 am we will check in at Kenai Fjords Tours, departing at 11:30 am. This very scenic popular 6-hour wildlife and glacier cruise explores coastal rainforests, tidewater glaciers, and remote Alaskan islands in Resurrection Bay, Kenai Fjords National Park, and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. As we venture to Aialik Bay and the Chiswell Islands, we are likely to see whales, seals, sea lions, sea otters, porpoises, and many species of seabirds. After the boat returns at 5:30 pm, we will get dinner at a local restaurant, then drive to our lodging at Abode Well Cabins near Exit Glacier.
On Sunday we will visit the Alaska Sea Life Center (www.alaskasealife.org/) and take their Behind the Scenes Tour, where we will learn about Alaska marine ecology while we get close looks at seabirds, marine mammals, and other marine life (such as salmon and the much-loved octopus). After lunch we will visit the Airport Mudflats, where the highest diversity of bird species is found in the Seward area. Afterward we will visit Exit Glacier where we will hike a trail in Kenai Fjords National Park to find forest birds and get views of the rapidly receding glacier and its moraine. Then we will drive back to Anchorage, returning before dinner time.
Likely species: Day 1: Harlequin Duck, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Pacific Loon, Black Oystercatcher, Horned Puffin, Tufted Puffin, Common Murre, Thick-billed Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, Kittlitz’s Murrelet, Ancient Murrelet, Parakeet Auklet, Rhinoceros Auklet, Black-legged Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Pelagic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Red-faced Cormorant, Bald Eagle, Northwestern Crow.
Day 2: Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Common Merganser, Semipalmated Plover, Least Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe, Spotted Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Rufous Hummingbird, Steller’s Jay, Tree Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pacific Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Varied Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Northern Waterthrush, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Fox Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Orange-crowned Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler.
Recommended Gear and Cautions: The boat operates in all weather conditions, please dress appropriately; layers are recommended. For watching birds from the deck of the ship, be dressed in wind-proof and waterproof layers with light gloves and hat. Sunglasses, sunscreen, binoculars and camera are recommended. Bring waterproof hiking shoes for the boat and mudflats. Bring a refillable water bottle. Regular hiking gear with small backpack, water, snacks, and insect repellent recommended for day 2.
Additional Information: The first day of the trip is on a large, fast boat and should provide a fairly stable ride, but it will go out into some more exposed waters to get to the spectacular glaciers and seabird colonies. If you are prone to motion sickness, please use medication in advance.