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Baranof Island Circumnavigation

June 23 through August 19, 2008

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Where is Baranof Island?

Baranof Island is one of the Inner Passage Islands in SE Alaska. It is part of what some call the ABC Islands, Admiralty (to the East), Baranof, and Chichagof (to the North). Baranof is outlined in red.

Who is going?

From left to right:

Dave has paddled extensively in Alaska (including the North Slope) and the entire Chilean coast in South America. You can see his photos at www.davesnowberg.com


December 21, 2007

So Baranof Island has the highest concentration of bears in the world. This is primarily due to the abundance of salmon streams on the island. While any sane bear would be more interested in fresh salmon than dried lentils, rice and multi-vitamins, we still need to make some water-proof, scent-proof bear canisters.

With a little help from Phil, George and Zig (especially Zig), from H&B Machine Corporation we put together a pretty damn cool prototype.

December 26, 2007

Dave, Michelle, Leslie and Dressler spent the day looking at specific routes. The current leading candidate is a counter-clockwise route that will go around both Kruzof and Catherine Islands.

The route around the islands would be about 282 miles. Adding in a few bays and fjords will bring it up to nearly 420 miles. To do this in the 42 days we have scheduled, we will have to average 10 miles per day. This doesn't leave much room for bad weather, nice hot springs, or rest days. The result is that we may need to skip a few of the fjords. I, personally, don't intend to skip any of the hot springs.

This is a highly detailed map of our route. It is a 2.6 Mb JPEG that will open as a new window or tab. Our route is in light green.

We took a break from planning to go for a walk along Lake Mendota. Ever safety-conc ious Dave was up to his usual antics. I replied "I'm standing on thin ice wearing cotton jeans, a cotton sweatshirt and a down vest. What could go wrong?"

January 16, 2008

Leslie and Dressler began taking the Wednesday night pool sessions a little more seriously. Here they can be seen simulating a rescue where the person in the water is only able to use one arm. Thanks to Steven Gross from Real Life Weddings for the photos.

When brute force wasn't getting the job done, we recruited some expert assistance. CASKA juggernaut Paul Redzimski, an excellent instructor, offered some suggestions.

It is somewhat common for paddlers to injure their shoulders while trying to prevent a capsize. Knowing and practicing the fastest way to get an injured paddler back into a boat could mean the difference between inconvenience and hypothermia.

And just for fun, some roll practice...

January 21-25

This was a big learning week for us. I spoke with Mr Wade Willis of Vision Quest Adventures. He had plenty of good advice and local knowledge. It turns out that he is friends with Kevin Tubbs of Incan Beverage Packaging, the Alaskan arm of TurboTap. Kevin describes Wade like this:

"If you scoured this state, it would be hard to find someone more knowledgable about ocean kayaking and whale watching in Alaska. I think he knows em all by name. Im not sure I have ever seen the guy dry during the summer...he is ALWAYS in the water."

It also turns out that Dave and Wade met at Dual Head in Prince William Sound. What a small world!

I have also exchanged several emails with Rev Bob Carter, of Petersburg, AK. Bob has paddled hundreds, if not thousands, of miles around SE Alaska and the Inner Passage. He has also circumnavigated Baranof Island in three segments. His wonderful trip reports can be found at Woody's Kayak Trip Reports. Bob has been extremely helpful and has provided invaluable local knowledge that relates specifically to Baranof.

Wade and Bob both encouraged us to bring a handgun instead of a shotgun. We will be far more likely to keep a .357 on our hip than we would be to lug a 12 GA down to the water every time we do dishes. Hopefully Randy at Moe Hardware Hank in my hometown of Black River Falls, WI can set us up with the right piece.

Wade and Bob disagree on the idea of fishing, however. Wade says that we will catch as many fish as we could possibly eat. He even told me what kind of line and lures to bring. Bob on the other hand, chooses not to fish on kayak trips. The last thing he wants is the smell of fresh fish smeared all over his kayak. I agree that I would be disappointed to wake up to a bear tearing apart my beloved kayak. If anyone has any comments on the issue, please email us at kayak@twodress.....

Thank you, Wade and Bob!

February 10

Today was bitterly cold in Madison, WI, but thanks to two awesome women, my heart was filled with warm anticipation.

Peg Larabell, who is the proprietor of East Side Shoe Repair in Madison (and happens to be the coolest aunt a guy could ever have) is attempting to resole my favorite old hiking boots. We also traded notes regarding the design of the ultimate expedition food-hanging, gear-hauling mesh backpack. We were both independently thinking of very similar designs. She is also making a scabbard for our camping knives as well as a utility to belt on which to hang our knives, pepper spray, handguns and flashlights.

One project I'm pretty excited about is the solar charging challenge. Fortunately, Mary McLease (Schroeder's mom) took an epic hike from California to Mexico a couple of years ago. She used a Brunton Solaris 12-Watt solar charger to keep her camera and computer juiced. She very graciously offered it to us to use on our Baranof adventure.

February 12

Leslie had the crack-pot idea of keeping a list of things we need to bring with us to Alaska. As long as we're keeping list, I thought, we may as well keep it here.

February 23

More crazy ideas from Leslie today. She wants to start experimenting with different camping foods. So she bought these 3.5 ounce Kitchens of India curry packets. They are nice little foil envelopes that have all the ingredients for various curry dishes. It was a great success. The KoI packets will definitely make the list.

March 7, 8 and 9

This is the weekend of the legendary Canoecopia, where you can learn, talk, see and hear all things paddling. We'll be sure to be asking a lot of questions at the cooking classes. Rice, lentils and pasta is great for a week, but for two months, we need to mix it up a little!

Shoot as an email at kayak AT twodresslers if you plan to be there and can offer us any advice.

Wow! They say a dollar saved is a dollar earned. We spent a lot of money, so we saved a lot of money, which means we really earned a lot of money at Canoecopia. Thanks Rutabaga!

March 10

We are down to about three months to prepare. Before we know it, we'll be loading up the Golf and heading West. Our packing list is OK, but we wanted to nail down our caloric needs a little more accurately. I put together a food calculator.

Dave, you should look at it and give me your thoughts.

Leslie ordered a bunch of dehydrated veggies from Harmony House Foods. It will likely be cheaper to have them buy the veggies in season and dehydrate them in bulk. We'll see...

Saturday, March 29th

I think we bought more food today than we ever have in a single trip. Between the Woodman's by my Mom's house and the Sam's Club in Evanston, we bought enough food for 6 weeks in the wilderness. We are now on a major dehydrating and vacuum sealing mission. Les and I are responsible for 21 breakfasts and 21 dinners, plus our own snacks for every day, drinks, etc.

Friday, April 5th

Exciting day today - our FryBake arrived in the mail. For our first Frybake experiment, we made some Tilapia with curry and rice. To start, we put 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water, 1 packet of fish curry sauce and a few tilapia fillets in the fry bake.

We then built a small fire underneath and a small fire on top.

We used charcoal briquets, as twigs are tough to find in Wrigleyville.

We let it cook for about 25 minutes. 20 minutes in, it was steaming around the edges and the whole back stairwell smelled like curry. By about 25 minutes, it was done.

Deeeeeee Lishus.

Les and I weren't terribly hungry, but it was very tasty nonetheless. With two cups of rice and four cups of water, one packet and one good sized Rockfish it should easily make a dinner for four of us. Then Dave can eat all my snack food in the middle of the night.

Thursday, April 11

I took a break from studying today to start compiling tide and current data for the waters around Baranof. This is mindnumbing stuff, but critical nonetheless.

I have selected several key headlands, bays and crossings along our entire route and am assembling an easy to read tide/current chart for each one of them, in the order we will reach them.

Wednesday, May 7

The piles of food that we have dehydrated and vacuum sealed are taking over our kitchen. We finished up the last few dinners tonight and got them boxed up for shipping. Now we need to charge ahead with the breakfasts.

(each box is 12" x 8" x 24" - all this in our kayaks?)

We have been packaging the dinners in individual vacuum bags. This is the easiest way for us to ensure enough calories and variety. For breakfasts, we may opt to take the "pantry" approach. That being, we bring a tub of oatmeal, a tub of bannuck mix and a tub of dehydrated eggs and we mix and match the breakfast staples as needed.

Saturday, May 17

Another big day at Rutabaga. We picked up our SPOT Personal Locator Beacon and started playing with it. Julie Olsen has agreed to manage one central map with all of our updates on it. (See below)

Friday, May 30

With only three weeks to go, we are in the final preparations. We're putting together the last meals and beginning to arrange gear in our boats.

Friday, June 6

Good news today. I finally talked to the woman who runs the Port Alexander post office. The mail boat leaves Sitka on Tuesdays and Fridays and arrives in PA on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We will be able to ship our re-provisioning "next day!"

Sunday, June 8

We were in Madison today to make our Brian Day Big Mouth towing systems. Thanks, Peg, for the huge help. If anyone is considering buying a tow system, I would HIGHLY recommend making your own. After weeks of shopping and trying, the Brian Day design is hands down the best I've used.

Monday, June 9

Michelle made a nice update to her web site today. If you would like to add your email address to her listserv you can get daily GPS updates from our SPOT Personal Locator Beacon. You can enter your address here:

Never mind. It didn't work - Google permission issue.

Wednesday, June 10

Ooooh... Tough day today. We loaded our deck bags on our sterns for the CASKA Wednesday night paddle to see how it would affect rescues and rolls. It seems I wasn't able to roll my boat with the deck bag on. Paul R took the bag off for me - it seems I wasn't able to roll my Solstice even without the deck bag. Paddling the Explorer HV has made me lazy. I better get to work.

Thursday, June 11

Just for your reference, a couple of weather sites:

Tuesday, June 17

Whew.. We went for a paddle again today in the big boats. At the end we worked on rolls. Warming up with a few braces, I was able to get my roll back. Man! The Solstice GT XL HV is a TANK. I think it is bigger than both the Merrimac and the Monitor.

Wednesday, June 18

We packed our boats today. Good news: Everything fits.

Monday, June 23

Drive from Chicago to Missoula, MT

Tuesday, June 24

Drive from Missoula, MT to Seattle, WA

Wednesday, June 25

Stretch-out paddle on Lakes Union and Washington. We will likely ship our re-provisions to the Port Alexander post office from Seattle. That is yet to be determined.

Thursday, June 26

Relax at McCormick's place while Stephanie cooks us our last big, meat-filled Italian meal for two months.

The Ferry Ride

Quite frankly, I'm as excited about the 4-day ferry ride as anything. We will be pitching our tent on the back of the M/V Columbia, part of the Alaskan Marine Highway System.

Friday, June 27

12:00 PM Drive to Bellingham

3:00 PM Board M/V Columbia

6:00 Depart for Ketchikan, AK

Saturday, June 28

Relax on board M/V Manatuska

Sunday, June 29

7:00 AM Arrive Ketchikan

10:00 AM Depart for Wrangell

4:00 PM Arrive Wrangell

4:30 PM Depart for Petersburg

7:30 PM Arrive Petersburg

7:40 PM Briefly meet Rev. Bob Carter (if time allows)

8:30 PM Depart for Juneau

*Note from Julie: Kris sent an email today (6/29) noting they decided to reverse their route. New itinerary: Sitka, Peril Strait, Tenakee Springs, South through Chatham Strait,
Cape Ommaney, Whale Bay, circumnavigation of Kruzof Island if time allows.

Monday, June 30

4:45 AM Arrive Juneau, alight the M/V Columbia

5:30 AM Board the FVF Fairweather

8:00 AM Depart for Sitka

12:30 PM Arrive in Sitka

3:00 PM Final gear check

5:00 PM Final phone call to Moms and Dads

Map update

(This is a quick view, you can click on the map to open a larger version with more details in a new window. Green marker denotes start, red marker denotes most recent location.)

Tuesday, July 2

11:00 AM Begin paddling (High Tide at 12:50 PM)

Rest day at Goddard Hot Springs

Approximately July 10

Round Cape Ommaney. This will be one of the hardest parts of our trip as far as technical paddling goes. The Cape itself is unimpressive, but the combination of wind, waves, current and swell will make it interesting. We will need to camp out in Larch Bay while we wait for the right weather window. If a week passes and we don't find just the right opportunity, we will backtrack to Puffin Bay and Portage the 1,000 meters to Port Lucy. We will then have to head back South to Port Alexander to pick up our second half provisions.

July 12

At exactly 5:22 PM, we will take a break from whatever we are doing to hold hands, kiss, and think of Bryan and Noelle exchanging rings and vows. Next time we will plan our trip of a lifetime around Noelle's moment of a lifetime.

Approximately July 16

Arrive in Port Alexander, AK for reprovisioning

Approximately July 20

Arrive in Baranof, Warm Springs Bay, AK for a hot soak and more reprovisioning

Phone calls to Moms and Dads*

*Moms and Dads: If July 14 passes and you do not get a call, it is not time to freak out just yet. Check the progress map and you will see that we are doing just fine.

Approximately July 25

Round Catherine Island, enter Sergius Narrows and Peril Straits

Approximately August 8

Round Kruzof Island, land at Fred's creek trail head

Approximately August 9

Climb Mt Edgecumbe

Approximately August 10

Paddle across Sitka Sound to Sitka, AK. Find nearest pub and enjoy a cold beer.

Tuesday, August 12

9:00 AM Line up for prime spot on M/V Manatuska

12:00 PM Depart for Petersburg

10:00 PM Arrive at Petersburg

Wednesday, August 13

12:30 AM Depart for Wrangell

3:30 AM Arrive at Wrangell

4:00 AM Depart for Ketchikan

10:00 AM Arrive at Ketchikan

5:00 PM Depart for Bellingham

Friday, August 15

6:00 AM Arrive at Bellingham