Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 29th, 2016 Valdez

What an awesome day of hiking and exploring.

Today we started out by taking the Jeep up to the Worthington Glacier. There were really two hikes; One up to the ice field, and the other up to some spectacular waterfalls and the toe of the glacier. The hike itself was pretty challenging due to the loose rock and glacial stream crossings. I will say though it was well worth it.

From there, we headed back towards Valdez stopping at the two unfinished train tunnels. There were two competing companies that wanted to get train service to Valdez in 1905. The competition got so severe that a gunfight ensued. Several people were hurt and one person was killed. After that, they stopped construction.

From the train tunnels we went to the other side of the bay to check out the Salmon Fish Hatchery. Nothing is going on right now as the Pink Salmon do not return until August. However, there were dozens of Bald Eagles. I really mean dozens. We both lost count.

Then on to the original site of the town of Valdez. The town was pretty much destroyed during the 1964 earthquake and tsunami. After the event what was left was condemned. Quite a few people died, and the town was moved to the current location.

After seeing nothing at the old town site other than some photos on sticks, we headed up to the Valdez Glacier. I did not think we could drive up all of the way, but to my surprise, we ended up at a lake with remnants of the glacier. It is very strange that these chunks of glacier are still in this lake as the toe of the glacier is miles away.

Overall, a really nice day.

June 26th to 28th, 2016 Seward to Palmer to Valdez

Well we made it to Valdez. The drive from Seward to Palmer was uneventful yet beautiful.

We were able to witness a "small" bore tide on the turnagain arm. I was really hoping we would see a large one, but they were likely to occur early June or early July

My brother and his wife Angel had to stop at Fred Myers Grocery Store so we arrived at Mountain View RV Park first. We set up camp and hiked back to the Matanuska River for a quick hike. What a beautiful area.

We decided to go straight to Valdez the next day planning for a week or so. However, Bob and Angel decided to go to Chitina so that they could go up to the Kennecott Mine.

We had a great drive down to Valdez as we did not need to worry about finding pull outs that could fit two RV's.

I will say that the road down to Valdez in a word "sucks". The road was almost as bad as the Alaskan Highway. However, the views were spectacular.

We arrived at Eagles Rest RV Park, though quite a few delays as the roads are all under construction. Many are closed; even the road to the RV Park. We were able to make the detours to Eagles Rest. The campground is so so, but the views... Wow!!

We set up camp and drove the Jeep around town to get a lay of the town. This was our first time here so we were not sure what to expect. The first stop was the visitors center. We then went down to the large boat and small boat docks.

We hiked a small trail with really nice views right from the small boat docks.

I now see why some say this is one of the most beautiful towns in Alaska.

We plan on hiking a few trails and may stay for the 4th of July fireworks. Unfortunately, it gets dark around 2:20AM now and the fireworks are scheduled at 10PM. It should be interesting to see how they pull off daytime fireworks.

I will say that after two full months, I am about ready to head home to south west Florida.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

June 24 and 25, 2016 Seward continues

The last couple of days have been boring and exhilarating.

We have been having quite a bit of rain so yesterday, before it got too rainy, we hiked up to the edge of the Exit Glacier. Unfortunately, you cannot hike up to the toe directly, but we did get a few good pictures.

After Exit, we headed down to the Alaska Sea Life Center. It was pretty cool seeing the same animals we saw on our boat tour, but up close and personal. They have an inside/outside birding area. The inside is also a very large fish tank. I found it really interesting seeing the puffins dive and swim to the bottom. They are pretty amazing swimmers.

Today, Chris and I got up fairly early to hike up to the Harding Ice Field. It is a pretty strenuous hike up with 3000 feet of elevation gain in around 4 miles. Both Chris and I are pretty experienced backpackers/hikers and have backpacked Isle Royale to the Colorado Rockies and have hiked Volcano National Park to Dry Tortugas National Park. I feel pretty confident in our ability to hike this.... However, we did not expect what happened. On the way in, there is a login sheet to log departure time and when returning, you must log your arrival time. I logged us in, but noted that someone from yesterday had noted a bear on the trail.

We still set off for our hike, but about a mile up the trail a park ranger said he thought there was a bear around a half a mile past "the bridge" which would be about a mile and three quarters up.

Undeterred, we hiked on. The trail was not difficult to hike, but was very closed-in by vegetation. We got to the bridge pretty quick which was at a mile and a quarter. At this point, we had not seen any other people hiking, but we went on.

At about two tenth passed the bridge we went into our "bear scare" routine. Saying "Hey Bear", clapping, a little whistling, etc. The trail was switched back and forth. At about 4 tenths passed the bridge, we went around a switch back and a very large bear about 20 yards in front was standing on two feet who growled very loud. Both Chris and I jumped back. I knocked my sunglasses off the top of my head. We paused for a moment and noted she was standing on the trail with her front paws on a tree. I looked up the tree and immediately knew the situation. Her cub was treed about twenty feet up. She was just protecting the cub.

I walk forward just a bit to pick up my sunglasses. I then tried to take a photo of both the bear and her cub with my phone but I guess I was shaking a little.

After that, we knew she was not going to let us pass. We decided full of adrenaline to head back down. No Harding Ice Field for us today.

The picture is blurry, but she is standing on the right side of the tree looking straight at us.

Friday, June 24, 2016

June 21 through June 23, 2016 Seward

The trip from Homer to Seward was absolutely beautiful. I really love the Kenia Peninsula. The rivers, forests, and wildlife are spectacular.

We made it to Seward, Stoney Creek RV Park without any issues. I had a few memories of our last trip here in 2014 since this is where we broke down and had to be towed all of the way back up to Wasilla.

After setting up, We drove down to the docks and made arrangements to take a wildlife and glacier tour. The best weather window would be Thursday the 23rd as rain is expected for about a week.

We set that up and drove around town a little just to see if anything changed in the last two years. Seward is definitely upscale when compared to Homer.

On Thursday morning we set out for the wildlife and glacier tour. The views were just awesome. We saw quite a few harbor seals, stellar seals, horned and tufted puffins, cormorants, bald eagles and of course humpback whales.

This time, we elected to do the dinner at Fox Island before returning to the docks.

It was another great day!