Big Johnstone Bay – "BJ"- a Remote Alaskan Wilderness Paradise
"In 2014 our family of 5 (2 adults and 3 young kids aged 6, 4 and 1 year old) travelled from our home in Australia to the Alaskan wilds. The hands-down highlight of our 10 week trip to Alaska was the 5 1/2 weeks we spent at our Big Johnstone Bay lakeside cabin in the Alaskan wilderness. Nestled in a spruce forest between ocean beach and glacial lake, the cabin is ideally located to make the most of an absolutely spectacular area.
At the time, icebergs in the lake made float plane access difficult (these have now gone from the lake with the retreating of the glacier, making access simpler). We chartered a small wheel-plane out of Anchorage to drop us off and pick us up.
Armed with bear spray, marine flares, a comprehensive medical kit (and expedition doctor whose training was fortunately not required!), satellite phone and more peanut butter than you can poke a stick at we ventured forth into the great unknown.
Landing on the ocean beach, a whale shortly off-shore was our first wildlife sighting, followed closely by an eagle which checked us out as 4 waited patiently on the beach for the pack horse to ferry multiple loads of luggage in to the cabin (usually a 15 minute walk along the river and through spruce forest…a touch longer with a heavy load). At 11pm (and still broad daylight) we booby-trapped our remaining possessions with bear spray and took everyone in to the cabin, marine flares at the ready and alert to every twig breaking that might herald the onslaught of that rare human-hunting black bear! (I really shouldn't have read that bear book). Our wood cabin, whilst hardly a mansion, represented true luxury in the wilds. Someone put a lot of effort into getting it there and never did we appreciate it as much as that first night. Shelter, safety, a door that closed and locked!
We spent most days next to our camp fire on the lake shore, cooking pancakes, fishing for icebergs, watching seals watch us and marvelling at the sheer beauty and scale of the landscape. We hiked and explored (almost made it to the glacier via the western lake shore), rowed on the lake (up to the glacier), read books (did I mention that bear book?) and even did some building (completing the loft floor for full use of the cabin loft).
Those Alaskans we had had the pleasure to become acquainted with prior to our wilderness foray ranged from skeptical to outright fearful for our well being. Consensus was that the crazy Aussies wouldn't last more than a week in the wilderness. We had more than one friendly fly-in during our BJ stay…just checking…it seems that almost everyone in Alaska is a pilot! On his first fly-by our helpful neighbour expected to find us cowering in our cabin, possibly hypothermic, starving or wilderness crazy. Instead he found 3 beaming children frolicking naked in the ocean, relaxed parents looking on. Our only need?....sunscreen (someone told us it would rain all the time so we weren't prepared for 5 weeks of sunshine!).
The bears were there…we saw skats and prints but never a bear. I'm sure they saw us! When the neighbour offered to take us to see some on the eastern shore we politely declined (that was just gonna mess with our heads!!). We did get to see lots of seals, an otter, a whale and eagles. We found some white fur that we thought was from a mountain goat. Apart from the neighbour coming down for a few days, and 2 other 15 minute fly-ins, we had the lake, forest, beach and wildlife entirely to ourselves for 5 and a half weeks of bliss.
We have travelled a lot and been to some amazing places (the Himalayas, the Andes, Patagonia, even our home of Tasmania has pretty nice parts) but BJ was the whole package for us: spectacular scenery – the glacier, the lake and icebergs, the ocean and forest – combined with a real feeling of remoteness – no roads, no stores, no people (almost all of the time) – and that small element of danger that made our stay a real adventure.
Life twists and turns and 6 years on we are living on a remote Antipodean island and establishing a farm here. We have found our permanent home and don't foresee a return to Alaska in the near future (I am currently reconsidering that having looked back through our photos tonight!....if only we could be in 2 places at once!). Hopefully a new owner will enjoy the cosy cabin, love BJ as much as we do and be able to visit more often.
Big Johnstone Bay is a life altering place."
The Price is only $69,000.- Cash
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