Thus began my first ever packrafting adventure with Ari. What a joy to discover I now have a new river rafting companion, as Ari and I crammed into the same packraft for the short float down Portage Creek.
We went less than a mile, but that was enough to remind me what I love about Alaska’s glacial rivers: the turquoise water, reading the braids, avoiding the sweepers, looking up at lush hillsides and hanging glaciers—especially seeing it all through my son’s eyes.
Ari has definite potential as a trip partner. When we pulled out, I asked him which direction he thought the road was, and he pointed in the right direction! Then I asked him whether we should try to walk straight there through the brush or look for a trail, and he demonstrated uncanny bush savvy for a 4-year old by voting “trail” (albeit it was partially visible only 30 feet away).
I showed Ari how to skip stones across the water, but he was more interested in finding the biggest rocks he could lift and dumping them into the river.
When we got back to the road, I taught Ari another indispensable packrafting skill: hitchhiking (to get back to the car). He now knows you look for cars going in your direction, stand on their side of the road, hold your thumb high so they can see it, and make sure they see your paddle so they know you’re a friendly paddler. A very nice man named Ryan from Paddler’s Dream Kayaking Company in Whittier was nice enough to pick us up.
It’s a good thing I remembered his name. When we got home, Mommy reminded Ari that we never take rides from strangers!