GUIDED ALASKA Custom

walrus enter the bering sea

Walrus and Volcano Backpack: The Veniaminof Traverse

calendar

DATES

TBD
region

REGION

Alaska Peninsula
price

TRIP COST

$$$

Way out on the Alaska Peninsula where volcanoes melt into the sea is a landscape both dramatic and serene. We’ll spend a week hiking from the volcano to the rough Bering Sea and will end our adventure on the beach with hundreds of walrus. What more could you want?

TRIP DETAILS

500 miles west of Anchorage where the Alaska Peninsula tapers to a thin volcano-dotted line between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea lies an incomparable wilderness. Active volcanoes dominate the skyline. Smoking peaks shrouded in ice and snow tower about the flat and narrow coastal plain riven with springs and creeks and lakes of every shape and size. In this landscape of cinders, glaciers, storm-lashed beaches, and rocky cliffs is an ecosystem thriving with life. Creeks fill with salmon each July and bears grow to enormous proportions feasting on them. Moose are abundant and waterfowl are everywhere. And the tundra is rich and complex with wildflowers and lush grasses waving in the wind.

The trip starts at Sandy Lake in the shadow of the volcano. From here we’ll walk east to the foot of the mountains and then will have time to climb high on its flanks. If the weather cooperates we could glimpse the massive glacier which sits in the caldera. It is the only glacier in North America to have an active volcanic vent spewing steam and cinders onto the ice!

After exploring the glacier and volcano it will be time to hike to the coast. As an exploratory route, we don’t know exactly what we’ll find but most likely a combination of short tundra, gravel bars and tall-grass tundra. There will be some alder thickets and river crossings

It’s about 30 miles from the glacier to the coast. It is all downhill and could be a challenge if we get caught in the alders but it looks like lots of open country and river flat hiking.

On the Bering Sea Coast, where black sand beaches stretch beyond the horizon, is one of the most reliable places in Alaska to observe and photograph walrus. Cape Seniavin hosts hundreds, and often thousands, of walrus every summer. Large groups of bull walrus haul-out on the beach to rest between feeding trips in the rich waters of the Bering Sea. The sandy bluffs of the cape provide an ideal vantage for watching and photographing these exceptional animals as they come and go through the surf.

After a strenuous backpacking trip it will feel good to stroll down the beach from our camp at the creek’s mouth to the walrus colony where we can observe these enormous beasts. If we walk a little further there is also a nesting colony of birds on the cliffs. The richness of wildlife and the wilderness coast make this a great place to end our trip.

Last updated: January 23, 2020

Itinerary

What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.

Day 0

Meet your guide in King Salmon for a pre-trip meeting in the evening.

Day 1

Weather permitting we fly from King Salmon, south along the Bering Sea Beach and then when Veniaminof looms large above the left wing, we head inland and land on the wind rippled Sandy Lake. Fishing here is excellent so we’ll likely spend the night lakeside before starting our hike.

Day 2

We start the hike with a climb up and out of the Sandy River Valley leaving behind the beautiful lake and the fish and the bears. We’ll hike about 6 miles to the base of the glacier which pours from the summit of Veniaminof Volcano and will try to position ourselves for a hike on the mountain the following day. Depending on the weather, there could be some significant stream crossings of the Muddy River this day.

Day 3

Clear weather is rare in this part of the state but we’ll keep our fingers crossed for it. Today we have an opportunity to climb high onto the volcano. If everything aligns perfectly, we could get a view into the ice filled caldera and see the volcanic vent spewing steam and ash onto the ice which surrounds. We’ll have a day of adventure no matter how far we go!

Day 4- 6

Down the Muddy River to the Coast. It is all downhill, and with luck the walking will be firm and flat. It is about 25 miles from the glacier to the beach so these will be long days of walking. As we get closer to the coast the weather and the wildlife will change. It will be fun and interesting to see the volcano grow small in the south and the bluffs of Cape Seniavin grow closer on the coast.

Day 7

We have the morning to visit with the Walrus and enjoy the coast. Mid-afternoon we can expect the plane to return for us and take us back to King Salmon.

Having been home a couple of days I found a minute to send you a note to say a big thank you to you and all at Arctic Wild who contributed to making a really amazing trip for us.  I know you are well aware we made a fair number of “variations” around the original plan, but both the variations and the ease and tolerance with which they were made contributed to an amazing trip.  We have been fortunate to travel fairly widely and with a fair number of “Adventure / Eco travel” concerns.  Without doubt this was one of the best trips we have done.  The environment certainly was key but the organization and people involved, particularly Dori, really made it.

I would like to comment on the quality of your staff.  Amazing.  Wyatt from last years trip, still stands out as one of the memorably excellent guides we have been lucky to have, and Dori  …  Well I cannot really find words to express my admiration and appreciation.  Those that travel with her are truly fortunate.

Regards, and thanks again.

- Malcolm, California, USA

DETAILS

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Charter flights beyond King Salmon, Alaska

Professional guide service

Wholesome, delicious, and mostly organic food while in the wilderness

Repair and safety equipment including satellite phone, first aid kit etc.

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Non-camp lodging (lodging in King Salmon is on your own)

Non-camp meals (hotel and meals if/ when there are weather delays are your responsibility)

Personal clothing and footwear per our Equipment List

Select Rental Gear is available from Arctic Wild

Gratuity for guide

WEATHER & BUGS

Though the temperatures should not be extreme, averaging 50 degrees. We can expect wind and storms and sun and rain and fog, possibly all in the same day. The area is known as the “birthplace of the winds”. Travel delays due to weather are likely. Rain and strong winds are assured.

RECOMMENDED READING

Where the Sea Breaks its Back by Cory Ford

Birthplace of the Winds by Jon Bowermaster

The World of the Walrus by Peter Knudtson

Walrus Conservation InformationWalrus Biology Information

Grizzly Maze by Nick Jans

The Bears of Katmai by Matthais Breiter

More Alaska reading is available from our Bookstore

"The wilderness was spectacular, the leadership perfect."
"I am just finishing my tenth trip with you guys. As always, the trip was more than I expected and I had a great time. See you next year!"
"Of all outfitters with whom we have worked (and that is quite a number), you were by far the most organized and responsive."
"That feeling of wide open wonder, the possibilities for nearly limitless wandering, and the image of those proud caribou...that will stay with me a long time"
"Our guide was an encyclopedia on legs. He was always willing and ready to teach, to talk, to listen, to do another hike, or to lie low in camp if we were beat. He truly gave us the trip we wanted!"
client client client client client
Eileen - Canning River