I went back and retrieved the text from my traditional pre-adventure “expectations” post for our Kodiak Island trip. It is always so insightful and gratifying to look back on those and reflect on how the adventure actually did transpired as opposed to how I dreamed the adventure would maybe transpire.

I’ve been thinking about adventuring to Kodiak Island for quite some time, nearly a decade in fact. Kodiak Island has always intrigued me, fascinated me, drawn me. This trip is definitely a “trip of a lifetime” and here are my expectations and goals.

There is not one iota of a doubt, this trip ended up being a legitimate trip of a lifetime!!

The #1 goal is safety and I want to come home to central Ohio in one piece. I’m sure dad wants to return to North Carolina in much the same condition.

Mission accomplished. Safe flights, no angry or overly curious bears, and we survived a 15-hour long F1 tornado in a sil-nylon tipi.

The #2 goal is to adventure (using “adventure” here as a verb) at a level that does this “trip of a lifetime” justice. For dad and I, this will peg out the adventure meter for any shared hunt that we’ve done in the past and any that we are likely to do in the future. Admittedly though, the 1st and 2nd goal necessarily exist in a state of a precarious balance. I won’t detail one potential activity until the trip is over (it may involve a coho salmon run, a death slog of several miles, and staying overnight in an old & abandoned salmon cannery) but we definitely plan to carpe diem!

We definitely adventured. Sometimes we put ourselves out there in an adventuresome situation, other times the island put us through circumstances that we probably would not have chosen for ourselves. Either option, we endured just about as much adventure as we could have while still achieving Goal #1 above! The potential activity referenced above did not happen mainly because of 3 reasons, listed in no particular order. 1) We got weathered in 3 straight days. 2) We saw how many bears the salmon rivers attracted on the flight in. 3) We aren’t stupid (thankfully!).

Our #3 goal is to maintain a positive attitude. I know this and dad knows this, but it’s important to remember that just because it is an adventure, that doesn’t mean it won’t suck a lot. Pushki (cow parsnip), rain, Devil’s walking stick, swarming insects, rain, potential weather delays, more rain, soaking wet and impossibly dense vegetation, blisters, general misery due to over-exertion in a brutal place like Kodiak – expecting hardship (“embracing the suck” as I’ve heard some guys say) goes a long ways in preserving that mental edge necessary to adapt, overcome, and thrive on Kodiak Island. Having the right equipment and having quality equipment that is reliable goes a long ways in coping with unfavorable conditions too, and I’m confident that those bases are covered. It will undoubtedly be a major challenge to overcome the mental obstacles of the trip.

Only those of you who have been to Kodiak Island know what that island is capable of serving up. We knew it going in and we had realistic expectations. I know I talk about that all the time. But seriously, setting realistic expectations and being in the right frame of mind to deal with the inevitable adversities that come along with spending nearly 2 weeks on one of the harshest places on Planet Earth – that mental readiness does wonders for morale. Achieving this goal was a smashing success!

For brevity’s sake, I’ll identify our #4 and final goal to each shoot a quality Sitka blacktail deer. We will be carrying 4 tags, but we don’t HAVE to fill all 4 to be completely successful. (Though we gladly will!!) For me personally, I’d define an ideal Sitka buck as one having dark-colored antlers with hefty mass and at least one of his fighting tines with that classic blacktail split. Past that, width, tine length, number of tines don’t really matter too much. I’m not sure how dad will define his idea of a trophy Sitka, but we’ve got patience, time, and optics to hopefully sort through a bunch of deer and find some quality bucks.

Yep. You read the daily reports. Success X 4.