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Published: July 12th 2012
9th-11th Tok to Valdez, day in Valdez and then back to Anchorage
There isn’t going to be much writing in this section of the blog as there is only so many ways you can describe the scenery without saying the same thing again and again. This leg of the trip involved a lot of driving but the scenery was so breath taking it made it all worthwhile. I only wish our camera could have captured the scale, breadth and depth of what we were seeing!
We set off from Tok and drove along the Richardson Highway, a journey of just over 250 miles. Not long after we had set off we spotted something in the middle of the road so we slowed down and to our surprise it was a lynx!, it moved off the road and just sat by the side so we stopped to take a photo.
The road followed a gigantic mountain range, part of the Wrangell St. Elias National Park. The mountains were all snow-capped and when the clouds drifted we got views of the peaks. There was a definite tree line where the greenery gave way to the bare rock and snow. We
followed the road past forests, small lakes and on up towards the mountain pass. We also stopped at the Worthington Glacier where the viewpoint allowed you to see right up the glacier, with its blue ice and crevasses and Howard was itching to hike up to it.
After we crossed over the mountain pass the road went down and through a deep canyon with towering mountain walls and cascading waterfalls before crossing the wide valley into Valdez.
In 1964 an earthquake destroyed the old town of Valdez and the new town was built 4 miles down the road in an area less susceptible to seismic activity. The town however suffered a further blow when in 1989 the ship the Exon Valdez struck Bligh reef in Prince William Sound and this resulted in a major oil spill which devastated the area.
We stayed in an interesting Motel – The Keystone, which was made out of old shipping containers! It looked very odd from the outside but once you were in it you couldn’t tell and it was a pretty ingenious way to make a motel – more importantly for Alaska it was cheap!!
The next day was
a bit of a wipe out as we woke up to pouring rain, thick fog and freezing cold. You couldn’t even see the mountains which tower over the town. All we managed to do was a quick drive around the town, a trip to the library to print out some documents and a food run to the local Safeway.
Today however the weather was perfect, crisp and clear but as we had another 300 plus miles to cover we didn’t have chance to explore Valdez which was a shame. We did make a quick stop at the visitors centre where you are supposed to be able to see salmon spawning in the river behind it, unfortunately we didn’t see any, the river was more of a gushing torrent so maybe that was why.
We followed the stunning road back to Glenallen, this time with clear views of the Wrangell St. Elias range the whole way, it almost seemed a shame to be leaving the area. We turned off onto the Glenn Highway and for the first 20 miles or so you could still see the huge white mountains behind us. Then we encountered the next mountain range –
the Chugach, these appeared to be more jagged and not as densely snow topped, but there were glaciers everywhere!!! It was like driving through a geography textbook!!!
We stopped to see the Matanuska glacier, a vast white tide of ice that swept down from the mountains and across the valley for miles, it was quite a sight!
These mountains just carried on and on, towering, jagged, awesome, beautiful, scary, stark and forbidding. By the time we reached the outskirts of Anchorage they were no long as close, but still a dramatic back drop to the city.
The whole of this part of the journey has been a visual feast! Each time you think wow nothing could top that sight, you round a bend and there is yet another spectacular view, different but equally as stunning. It was an AWESOME in every sense of the word journey.
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