Last updated: January 27, 2022
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
July 13 or (23) depending on which sailing you are on.
Meet in Adak.
Remarkably, given the location and population, the town of Adak has twice weekly scheduled jet service with Alaska Airlines for the 1,200 mile flight. Once you and your luggage has arrived, we will make our way to the harbor to settle into shipboard life. Depending on the weather (a phrase you’ll grow to love) we may have time to explore this former military base which once housed 4,000 plus people but is now less than a tenth the size. Or we may cast our lines immediately and begin our journey towards the very end of America.
(There is also a jet to Adak on July 9th or (20th). If you want to explore Adak on your own prior to our trip, Scott at Aleutian Outfitters can rent you a house and/ or vehicle during your stay.)
July 14 - 22 or (July 24 - August 2)
The weather will of course dictate how we spend our time. If it is rough we can seek shelter in the islands, hike the ridges, comb the beaches, fish the bays, explore the ruins, ponder the depth of Unangan (Aleut) history and the violence of the military history.
When the sea-state is more favorable we can cover some miles, heading west into the eastern hemisphere edging closer to the date-line while marveling at the abundance and diversity of sea-birds and marine mammals.
The weather dictates everything in this part of the world so we don’t have a set itinerary. But we do have some places we are eager to share with you.
There are islands and islets screaming with seabirds, a kaleidoscope of wings and bills swirling by the thousands between grey water and grey sky.
In the passes between islands where the tidal currents stir the rich soup of the north Pacific into the cold Bering Sea, the sea boils with marine life and we can spend hours watching whales feed and cavort in the fog.
There are wonderfully deep harbors ringed with cliffs and waterfalls. Torrents of melted snow fresh from the volcano’s slopes which launch from the green tundra only to be torn away by the wind or on occasion blown right back up the cliff!
And in the richest places with the best beaches and the most shelter lie the wonderfully situated Unangan village sites, where remains of whalebone framed barabaras (sod houses) show the outlines of large and prosperous communities. The sounds of children replaced by the sound of grass in the wind.
Glacier cloaked volcanoes including the currently smoking Semisopochnoi Island dot the horizon as we steam west and still further west.
And other islands produce fumaroles, bubbling springs, and all manner of geothermal wonders not far from the beach.
On Kiska Island we can see where more than 5,000 Japanese soldiers lived during their occupation of the island during World War II. Relics from the US and Japanese Navy litter the tundra and the beach, red with rust. A moving memorial to this little known part of the war.
Then still further west, out of the Rat Islands and into the loneliest stretch of the entire 1,200 mile Aleutian Arc, to Buldir Island, the most remote island in the whole chain which supports the most diverse seabird colony in the northern hemisphere.
And finally to Attu, as far west as you can go in the United States. We’ve come here for more than just the novelty of crossing into the eastern hemisphere and being at the western most point in America.
Attu is rich in human and natural history and with the extensive road system left from military occupation the island is amazingly easy to get around on. We can hike or stroll along the roads for views of the cliffy coast (assuming no fog), inspect the bunkers and batteries on the headlands and keep our binoculars handy for unusual birds flitting in the creeks.
And then, exultant and invigorated from a week of exploring ever further west, we turn back, perhaps visiting a favorite harbor and certainly seeing new sights and wildlife as we work eastward towards Adak.
We could spend all summer exploring the western Aleutians, we could spend a lifetime getting to know just one island. 12 days will give us an opportunity to cover the miles between Adak and Attu, while leaving plenty of time to go ashore and hike, explore, bird, photograph, paint, ponder, or whatever delights you. We will spend as much time ashore as we can. And with a small group your interests and abilities will guide our adventures.
July 23 (August 3)
We arrive in Adak in the morning and prepare for a mid-day check-in for the flight to Anchorage.