Kodiak Island is one of the many “must visit” locales in the great state of Alaska. People visit for a variety of reasons, and camping in beautiful spots is one of them. At the aptly named “Surfer’s Beach” you’ll meet locals, travelers, and if it’s summer, surfers . Camping is free, and freedom is king in Kodiak, just like the rest of the state. On a sunny weekend in August my partner and I met a ton of great people while posted up on the beach. The passing buffalo herd was a bit surprising on this particular morning, but it just added to the fun of the day.
I had gotten up early for a surf check and become distracted by a couple of bald eagles scouting for food. That’s when I noticed the buffalo coming pretty close to our camp. Jillian was in the tent, and I hopped in our rental car to watch. The thought of her getting up when the herd was passing through was both hilarious and nerve-racking. After the buffalo passed through we shared a surf session to ourselves before packing up camp and heading into town.
Leaving the beach the sun was out, and the lushness of the Island was in full effect. Folks were out fishing, and we stopped by one stream to take a look at what appeared to be thousands of salmon. A handful of huckleberries and a quick stop to watch a whale spout and we were a few miles outside of town. We met our new friend Courtney Webster, and hiked down to the ocean talking loudly to let any bears know we were passing through. Once we got to the water, the next mission of the day was clear. Short, featured routes with some fun bouldering was on tap. We climbed for a while until the tide started to come up and we had to boogie. Alaska doesn’t have as much climbing as people might think, but when you get to town go to Orion Sports and they have all the beta you need.
Seems early for a brewery shot, doesn’t it? Not in Kodiak. The Kodiak Island Brewery is only open until 7pm, so as soon as we were done climbing we headed there to check out the best suds in the area before our next mission of the day. Don’t miss this place when you’re on the Island, it’s a locals favorite and even if you’re snobby with your brew, they’ll have something tasty on tap to wet your whistle.
Fort Abercrombie State Park is a big attraction on Kodiak Island. Old military relics are strewn about the property, framed by some of the most beautiful ocean views imaginable. The wildflowers were out in full force during our visit in August, and there’s exceptional camping, fishing and hiking trails that make for some great trail running as well. After a morning surf, an afternoon climb, and beers just before five, we still had several hours of daylight to play. The park was easy to take in by running the soft, criss-cross trail system. Just be aware. As I was in full zen mode, contemplating the beauty of the day is right when I came up on two rather large Alaskan Brown Bears. Thankfully I didn’t startle them and was able to run in the opposite direction back to the parking lot, but the point was served. Many people come to Kodiak to see Grizzly Bears. They are gorgeous animals, but you don’t ever want to come between a mother and her cubs, or scare one.
After the bear incident I was ready for some food, but we had one more adventure left to finish off the day. The owner of 58 Degrees North Bike Shop, Jeremiah had agreed to show Jillian and I a fun ride off the top of Pillar Mountain. The zone is easy for an uphill workout, or even easier to shuttle boasting a good variety of trails locals have worked hard to maintain. We had a great ride and I snapped this shot of Courtney just as the day was finally starting to show a little darkness.
I think we were eating dinner around midnight on this day-fresh Halibut Courtney had caught the day before-and to me it was a testament to all the adventure this quaint Alaskan Island has to offer. You could easily give yourself to one of the activities mentioned here and call it a day as my partner and I did on several occasions, or just go big and have the multi-sport day of your dreams. I mean, some people travel here just to kayak! The point is, summer in Alaska is bountiful and the long daylight hours lends itself to lots of fun. Kodiak is full of amazing people, more amenities than most would think, and beauty that is only found in the land of the midnight sun. It’s a trip that’s easy to combine with any other travel to Alaska by jumping on a quick flight or ferry from Anchorage, and whether you’re looking for adventure or to simply relax, Kodiak Island is well worth a visit.
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