Sunday, July 31, 2016

Portage Valley

From Anchorage, we went down to see the Portage Glacier on a day trip.  We decided to go back and stay for a couple days.  We had a blissful two days at the Williwaw Campground, a National Forest Service campground tucked away in the woods by a stream fed by glacier melt water.  We drove through the Anton Anderson tunnel to Whittier.  It's about 2 1/2 miles straight through the mountain, the 2nd longest highway tunnel in North America.  The really weird thing is that it's also a railroad bed, so they have to tightly control traffic first in one direction, then the next, punctuated by a couple train loads of tourists every day.  Whittier is a pretty traditional sea port town, lots of commercial fishing and cruise ship port, but the passengers don't spend any time in town due to the lack of facilities.  They get off the ship and onto buses or the train to get out of town to more established places, or vice versa.  One of the strangest things was an old army building built to house a couple thousand troops during the cold war.  Back at our campsite, life was good with campfires both nights, walks along the river and a hike up toward the glacier.  We finally saw a moose in the wild that would stand still for a picture.  It had a calf that was too shy, hiding in the bushes.  More pictures from our stay in Portage Valley...

There was a hiking trail along this creek, beautiful views and good exercise

These are Coho Salmon making their way upstream to spawn.  The red coloring only happens when they're on their way upstream to spawn and die.  They say where there are salmon, there are bears.  We were very beary wary.

As I'm always saying, the pictures never do these views justice.  These two cascades were coming down from the same glacier on the mountain above our campsite.  The one on the left was probably 200 feet tall and 15 feet wide.  The one on the right, even bigger.  I hiked up here by myself one morning.

A rare selfie.  If this had been in the lower 48, there'd be 300 cars parked here.  I had it all absolutely to myself.  The boulder above my head is as big as a UPS truck.  Cascades like this are everywhere up here.

The Buckner Building was a self contained world for 2000 troops during the cold war overlooking the port in Whittier.  It took 5 years to complete, and they only occupied it for 6.  It withstood the '64 quake though, so obviously engineered well.

Lined up to drive into the mountain

A couple of the glaciers overlooking Portage Lake.  

Finally, a wild moose that didn't run away at the first sight of my camera.

Williwaw Campground.  Another glacier top center, the one that was feeding the cascades I hiked to.

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