Published: July 16th 2006July 11th 2006
After leaving Turnagain Arm, we stayed two nights in the Williwaw Campground in the Chugach National Forest. It is a beautiful campground at the foot of a glacier, and has nice level paved sites, but no water or electrical hookups. We had just set up when we heard someone nearby banging pans and blowing a car horn. Turns out there was a black bear in a campsite about 100 yards from us. He created a lot of excitement, and the camp host said he comes around often, but runs away at the sight of humans. A little later we decided we would take the bike trail through the woods to the Portage Lake Visitors Center, a little over a mile away. The camp host told us to be watchful because there had been reports of a grizzly bear in the area. Well, a black bear is one thing, but a grizzly is another. We decided we'd take the truck.
Just on the other side of the mountain lies the coastal village of Whittier. Its only land access is a tunnel through the mountain, built by the railroad and only recently converted to handle car traffic as well. The tunnel has only
Next time we go to a campground that doesn't have hookups I'll remember to fill the fresh water tank first.
one lane, through which pass both cars and trains. The tunnel opens for eastbound traffic on the half hour and west bound traffic on the hour, so you have to time your trip to avoid a long wait. It is the longest tunnel in North America ( at 2 1/2 miles), and driving through it can be a little disorienting. Like so many villages in Alaska, Whittier is squeezed in between the mountains and the sea. It is very picturesque, but you've got to wonder what life must be like here in the winter.
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