Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Kenai Peninsula, June 23 - 27, 2016, Days 53-57

Turnaround Arm, Kenai Peninsula
“In June 2000, Alaska’s Seward Highway, linking Anchorage with Seward, was designated as an All-American Road, an honor reserved for only the most outstanding highways in the nation.  The overall scenic, recreational, cultural, historic, and geologic qualities of the highway corridor are virtually unmatched anywhere.  It is simply one of the world’s great drives.” America’s Byways

Leaving Anchorage journeying to the Kenai Peninsula, Turnagain Arm on Cook Inlet is enveloped by colossal peaks so steep that only vines and shrubs can gain a foothold and even these disappear from the rock and snowcapped peaks.  The Chigmit and Chugach Mountains bolt from the valley
Tunnel to Whittier
floor so precipitously and with such grandeur that the spectacle leaves the traveler incredulous that such beauty can exist.  The entire landscape is stunning and exhausting…there is too much beauty to absorb.  One magical spot after another…
Whittier, where one travels through a one-lane 2 ½ mile tunnel to arrive at this little town at the head of the Passage Canal on Prince Edward Sound, is nestled in among stately mountains that line the Canal.  Twenty Mile Glacier greets the traveler on the left as they exit the tunnel, the Sound is directly ahead, and mountains ring the entire setting.  BEAUTIFUL!!
Town of Whittier
Granite Creek and then Bertha Creek were our basecamps and homes for five days before moving on to Porcupine Campground in the little town of Hope.   There were no amenities at any of these sites thus no blog, cellphone coverage (our daughters were certain that we were dead), but the beauty of the area was the only amenity needed.  Hope, a small town at the end of one of the roads, seems straight out of the TV setting of “Northern Exposure.” A little Café, featured in this television series, sits picturesquely alongside the road.  Hope was destroyed by an earthquake in 1964 (9.2 on the Richter Scale) and what the earthquake didn’t get the
Passage Canal...overlooking the Whittier Area
resulting Tsunami did.  Game is plentiful in this area, especially bear, and the Kenai campgrounds are a jumping off point to the Russian River where salmon runs occur at frequent intervals…it is here that fisherman are fishing, and bear are fishing as well along with the inevitable encounters.  Salmon, and hopefully not fishermen, are a major food source for the grizzly (brown bear per Alaskans) and one of the reasons that bear are so much larger here than in Denali…far more protein in their diet.  The bear’s diet in Denali consists of 80% vegetation whereas those that can access the salmon runs are less dependent upon vegetation.

River Flowing into Whitttier

Kenai Pond
Granite Creek Campground

                A visit to the town of Homer and it is back toward Anchorage where we will cut across on the Glenn Highway to connect to the Richardson Highway in order to visit Valdez.  This is the southern terminal of the 800-mile Trans Alaska Pipeline that originates in Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay far to the north.  Valdez, situated in a “majestic fjord where the 5000-foot-tall Chugach Mountains rise from Prince Edward William Sound” was all but destroyed in the 1964 earthquake.  One of Alaska’s many pristine sites, it is often referred to as Alaska’s “Little Switzerland.”  It is here where Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989 spilling millions of gallons of oil that set off a storm of environmental repercussions both in Alaska and elsewhere in the country.  With heavy dependence on tourism, fisheries, and oil, Valdez was heavily impacted by the resulting environmental fallout.  It will be interesting to hear the perspective of the residents as they relate to this event.  We will share what we learn.
Bear abound in this area
Elk were introduced...like deer, this is not their area
Wood Buffalo have been reintroduced
Hummm....I wonder what there is to eat...maybe a hiker?...or a biker?...meals on wheels....

Scenes along the Kenai...


  1. "Meals on wheels", I like that.
    Seriously, avoid making that contribution to the Alaskan ecosystem.
    ...and keep those great pictures and commentary coming.

  2. Hi Steve, this is Dan from the cruise ship. Great to talk at glacier view. Enjoyed cranky spoke too. Enjoy AK. Great that you have your health, time, and means to do all this exploration. Stay safe and enjoy AK.

  3. Hi Steve, Chris Jensen from Alaska here. Enjoy your travels, Susan and I have read your blog...hoope Adele is still enjoying her birthday month! My email chris-jensen@live.com