Drip. Slosh. Squish.
By Moxie Niedenthal, Expedition Guide on the Safari Endeavour
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Slosh. Slosh. Slosh.
Squish. Squish. Squish.
As guests appear out of the haze and step aboard the Safari Endeavour, those noises are all the deckhands hear. Fog and mist swirl, giving the day a mysterious feeling. Light rain, which fell steadily all morning, began to abate only moments ago. Vapor clouds of breath spin out like eddy currents against rocks as we exhale into the chilly air. No matter what adventure opportunity guests chose that morning, all return sodden.
The liquid sunshine of the northernmost temperate rainforest arrays its full glory on Mitkof Island. With the rain comes lush, dense life. Spring is in full swing. Bald eagles soar overhead searching for a tasty fish to bring back to the nest where two eaglets will squabble over the largest portions. Shy yet inquisitive, harbor seals peak their heads up through the clear, cold waters of Ideal Cove at the bright yellow and red Looksha kayaks bobbing against the side of the easy-dock. Chartreuse tips of Sitka Spruce trees emerge from their sheaths as they expand outward toward the older growth. Tops of Western Hemlocks nod and sway in the breeze. The hot pink of Salmonberry flowers vies for a bee’s attention as it buzzes amongst the western buttercups and shooting stars in the meadow.
At dawn, the brisk air had everyone reaching for an extra layer. Listening to the sage advice of the expedition team all were outfitted in rain gear top and bottom upon departure. Wet drops sprinkled from the sky here and there causing ripples in the water. Then more drops. More. And still more. Soon they fell steadily. Guests pulled up their hoods and tugged at their collars. Dampness at the wrists creeps up sleeves to your elbows. The phrase “Go bold, start cold!” starts to resonate as you realize just how unbreathable your rain gear truly is. After the first hour, you comprehend the fact that even the newest hi-tech fabrics have a saturation point and eventually soak right through. Around hour two you are questioning why you ever left the comfort of your stateroom.
You gladly slide your magnet on the status board to aboard and slog to your room to peel off your wet layers. A cup of hot cider beckons you to the lounge where you drape a blanket over your shoulders and gaze out through the windows. Lunch is announced in the Resolution dining room and you eagerly join your fellow shipmates as the hotel team serves lunch.
The morning’s activities exhibit the real Alaska as it was meant to be seen. Creeping through the forest on a bushwhack, following a black-tailed deer’s trail one soon realizes just how perfectly adapted those animals are to their environment. Lazily meandering on the edge of a meadow inspecting the buds of wildflowers you begin to understand the untrammeled beauty of the natural world around you. Touring the channels and bays on a pontoon you go farther seeking megafauna and learning about the struggles they face to survive. Slowly paddling kayakers peek over the sides of their boats to discover the stripes of intertidal life on the rocks of small coves. Hours spent immersed in the wilds of southeast Alaska teach, humble, and restore.
The pitter-patter of drops hitting the water begins anew just as the call for the first group of the afternoon goes out over the ship’s speakers. Guests emerge from their rooms dressed in light layers, rain gear, and Alaskan sneakers. Friendly joking passes around the aft 300 as they don their ever-fashionable PFDs. Expedition guides gather their groups together, explaining the logistics of the activity’s plan. The deck department musters on the fantail ready to chauffer passengers around the cove. Everyone knows they will be cold and wet all over again in just a few minutes. Alaska inspires a sense of wonder and that wonder brings out the bold spirit of UnCruise adventurers. So off they go to explore laughing and smiling all the way.