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Published: September 30th 2017
The ferry dock in Valdez
The mountains around Valdez are really beautiful. Too bad the weather was too bad to get any good pictures of them.
Geo: 60.1042, -149.442Saturday, 7/31/2010 – The weather so far had been very nice. A little overcast from time to time but no rain. That changed this morning. Foggy and misty rain for most of the day. We were up early and availed ourselves of the B&B's breakfast. Pretty standard free breakfast offered by most chain motels these days but not terrible – cold cereal, bagels w/cream cheese, etc., boiled eggs, fruit, etc.
We were catching the ferry from Valdez to Whittier that left at 8:00 AM. We got in line to board the ferry at 7:00 and were loaded promptly. Ferry was not crowded at all which was a bit surprising to us. We had hoped to see some marine life and get a view of Columbia Glacier from the ferry, but that was not to be. The weather was pretty miserable the whole way across the Prince William sound, though it cleared partially a couple of times.
We did see lots of floating icebergs and smaller chunks of ice that had calved from the Columbia glacier and did see a few sea lions, but that was about it for sights from the ferry. There was a very
Saw lots of ice floating in Prince William Sound. The ice calves from the Columbia Glacier into the sound and was partially responsible for the Exon-Valdez oil spill in 1989 (the third mate was in charge and was trying to avoid the ice when they ran aground).
nice National Forest Service Ranger aboard (the Chugach National Forest surrounds Prince William Sound) who gave several informative presentations about the sound (the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in 1989, the earthquake of 1964, sea-life in the sound, etc.) in one of the lounges. We arrived in Whittier on time at 1:45, disembarked (de-ferried?), and drove to the tunnel that allows vehicular access between Whittier and the Portage valley. The tunnel is unique in that it is for both vehicles and trains. It is only one lane wide and is 2.5 miles long. Road traffic is allowed into Whittier, one way, every hour on the half hour. Road traffic out of Whittier, one way, is allowed every hour on the hour. Train tracks run right down the middle of the one lane and trains use the tunnel when road traffic is not using it.
On the Portage valley side of the tunnel is Portage Lake and Portage Glacier. We were pleasantly surprised to see the weather on this side of the tunnel was clear and sunny. Amazing how the mountains affect the weather here. The glacier here feeds the lake and when we passed by we could see a huge ice berg
On an island in Prince William sound.
floating in the lake right in front of the Begich Boggs Visitor Center operated by the National Forest Service there. Apparently the glacier frequently calves ice into the lake.
Drove on almost to Seward and took the road out to Kenai-Fjords National Park. Did the several short trails to view Exit Glacier there. Pretty impressive glacier but, from signs indicating the glacier's boundary in past years, it was alarming to see how much of it has disappeared over just the last few years. After these short hikes, we drove on to Seward and checked into the Taroka Inn. This building was owned by the military and used as Officers' Quarters at some time in the past, though I'm not sure what period that was. Whenever it was, I don't think it had changed a whole lot since then. Very dark and gloomy but roomy with two queen beds, a small kitchen area, and bath but awkwardly arranged with access to the bath through one of the bedrooms. The rooms had a “Glade” air freshener covering the musty smell with that sickeningly sweet smell that most air fresheners have. Unplugged the air freshener soon after arriving. The musty smell
This is Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords NP. The glacier is fed by the Harding Ice Field - where we hiked the next day.
was better than the “fresh” smell. Anne had not walked quite enough on this day, so she set off to walk around the town while I set up the laptop and loaded pictures. Supper for me this evening was ‘easymac'.
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