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Video: Around the Kenai Peninsula — by packraft, fat bike and kayak

  • Author: Alaska Dispatch News
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published June 19, 2017

During the summer of 2016, five friends began imagining a human-powered trip across a large swath of Southcentral Alaska via sea kayak, fat-tire bikes and packraft. Before long, dreams became reality and they were off.

Kim McNett and Bjorn Olson started on the beach at their home in Homer, kayaked to Seward and then met their friends Ben Weaver, Amy Kippley and Daniel Countiss before biking out of town toward the Kenai River. There they switched to packrafts and floated downstream to the mouth of the Kenai, before reverting to fat bikes and pedaling the coastline back to Homer. All together, they covered about 450 miles in four weeks.

Through interviews and video, the adventurers shared their experiences and reflections about their journey in a new short film called "Instruments of Adventure." This collaborative film was shot and edited by Olson, with beautiful hand-drawn maps by McNett and audio by Weaver.

"Why instruments?" asks Olson. "It's easy to be lulled into thinking bicycles, kayaks, and packrafts are tools, which they are. But as any craftsperson knows, a well-handled tool can be performed like an instrument. The instruments of adventure are meant to be played … ideally, with like-minded friends in primordial hinterlands."

Kim McNett paddles in front of Gore Point in the Kenai Fjords. Bjørn and Kim spent three-weeks in 2016 sea kayaking from their home in Homer to Seward where they met friends, then fat-biked and packrafted back home. (Bjørn Olson)

A friend  provided a base of operation in Seward. The couple stashed their bikes and rafts before the trip and swapped gear once the kayak portion was behind them.

"A huge appeal of going on adventures like this is that I get to have intimate experiences with nature," said McNett.

Such as?

"We paddled into a pod of humpbacks," Olson said of a portion of the paddle through the Kenai Fjords. "They were moving around in the water pretty fast chasing after these little fish as I was filming. I heard Kim scream. I looked behind and one was right beneath her. It kind of flipped its pectoral fin."

What else? Spotted along way were sea lions, seals, sea and river otters, orcas, mountain goats, black bear — even a lone wolf.

Kim McNett, Daniel Countiss and Amy Kippley riding rocky terrain near Anchor Point on the last day of their month-long circumnavigation of the Kenai Mountains in 2016. (Bjørn Olson)

"Having these tools like the packraft and the fat bike, it allows you to get to places to have those experiences. But unlike walking … if you're on the fatbike it's kind of like being a kid, which I think is a huge part of exploring," said Weaver. "All this adult seriousness isn't necessarily the only (way to be) connected to the land. Being playful is a big part of it."

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