Hike 19/52 was to Beach Lake in Chugiak. We have been here before in the summer and caught some trout. This time, it was snowy and everything was frozen. We had never walked out to the “beach” so we thought that we would check it out. There are lots of dog sled trails and icebergs moving in and out with the tides. As usual, we didn’t see anyone out there and that was fine with us.
It came as a shock to be proposed to. It was surprising that we actually did the whole thing. Now it has been a couple of years. We thought that we should do something nice. We had a great dinner with meat, fish, wine, and great views. Maybe Anchorage, and marriage, isn’t so bad.
It has been a rather warm fall, but the snow is here to stay and we are acting accordingly.The sunrises and sunsets are incredible with our shorter days and longer nights.The walks with the dogs require us getting more and more bundled up as the temps drop. The dogs need to keep moving to stay warm.We are able to take our fat bikes to more locations as the snow settles in. This is the Middle Earth trail in Kincaid Park. One of our favorites.Lando braves the cold runs with me and never complains.
Booties are sometimes necessary for skijoring.
Obi had been passing out so we took him to the vet. He was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. We were told that he wouldn’t have much longer to live. I surprised Amanda with some professional pet photos for her birthday.
So I got the boys dressed in their finest bow ties and had Nancy of On The Loose take some outstanding pictures. We couldn’t be happier.
Our awesome friends borrowed packrafts and invited us on an adventure. We loaded packrafts into our backpacks and drove to Whittier. It was our first time to Whittier and our first time through the Whittier Tunnel, I mean the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. From ADoT:
Travel between Prince William Sound and Turnagain Arm has always been a vital part of life in Alaska, although modes and routes have continued to change. Chugach Eskimos have hunted and gathered in this area for thousands of years. They trekked over Portage Pass and Portage Glacier to trade and fight with the Athabaskan Indians of Cook Inlet. Many miners and prospectors also used Portage Pass to reach the gold fields of Cook Inlet and the Kenai Peninsula in the late 19th century. Often dropped off at the head of Passage Canal, these adventurers used pack trains, sleds, and pulleys to drag equipment and supplies over Portage Pass in hopes of striking it rich in Cook Inlet or on the Kenai Peninsula. During this period, Portage Glacier still covered most of Portage Lake. Travelers climbed to Portage Pass and traversed the eastern edge of Portage Glacier to Bear Valley. From there they would walk the front of the glacier onto the base of Begich Peak and drop down to Portage Valley.
This route, however, was both difficult and dangerous. In 1914 the Alaska Railroad Corporation began to consider ways to construct a railroad spur to what is now the town of Whittier. While railroad manager Otto Ohlson championed this route because of its ability to provide a shortcut to a deep-water port (a trip to Seward added 52 more miles), this route didn’t become a reality until World War II. The main advantages of using Whittier as a rail port was that it was a shorter voyage, reduced exposure of ships to Japanese submarines, reduced the risk of Japanese bombing the port facilities because of the bad weather, and avoided the steep railroad grades required to traverse the Kenai Mountains.
In 1941, the U.S. Army began construction of the railroad spur from Whittier to Portage. This line became Alaska’s main supply link for the war effort. Anton Anderson, an Army engineer, headed up the construction. The tunnel currently bears his name.
On April 23, 1943 workers completed the spur, which consisted of a 1-mile tunnel through Begich Peak and a 2.5-mile tunnel through Maynard Mountain, thus linking Whittier to the Alaska Railroad’s main line at Portage.
With a new rail connection to Whittier, the area began to change. In the mid-1940s, work crews and supply ships began to arrive, and population, including military and civilian personnel, swelled to over 1,000. Infrastructure—such as buildings (including the six story Buckner building and the Begich Tower), a power plant, and a petroleum tank farm—began to change the landscape.
The 1950s brought change to Whittier once again. As the military pulled out, Whittier transformed into a federally run commercial port. This turn of events also provided the opportunity for the private ownership and development potential that exists today.
Arriving in Whittier meant beautiful views of the marina from the local coffee shop. The best way to keep people out of Whittier is to repeat the mantra, “It is always shittier in Whittier”.
After a brief tour of the whole town, we began our hike.It is a short and steep hike. Packs were loaded with boats, lunch, paddles, clothes, and snacks.
As we crested the summit our merry band of travelers enjoyed the views and the walk in the mountains.The end of the trail was stunning.We had a quick lesson on how to inflate the boat, wear a dry suit, and try to go in a forward direction. Then we were off.
We paddled across the lake until we found the outlet. Then we floated and paddled downstream to where the river meets Turnagain Arm. It was an incredible adventure that made me appreciate the outdoors and Alaska’s beauty even more.
We took the family out to Caines Head a couple of times. It is one of our favorite places to visit. We stopped to watch the salmon in the river. The dogs begged for food.The hike through the mossy forest along the coast is amazing.
Once you make it to the beach, you are greeted by views of glaciers across the bay.The dogs love the beach. Some never stop running while searching for birds.The wife always seem to catch fish and look good doing it.
My favorite way to spend time with family involves fishing.
Photos from the amazing Alison Snyder.
After the park, we returned to our house to host a party. We did it all in our backyard.Our party favors were dog treats. Our cakes are from Jerome Street Bakery.
We cannot recommend them enough. From their website:
“We specialize in fresh, seasonal, and organic sweets inspired by the abundance of beauty in Alaska- the dark snowy winters, the mountains, the wildness, and our lovely piece of earth we call home on Jerome Street (and the wildlife we share it with).
We are known for our gratitude cakes. All our sweets are a fusion of a love of baking and a love of the community. 100% of proceeds are donated to chosen monthly non-profit.
Every product is made with love and intention, therefore no one cake will ever look the same. Each order is unique and personal to the individual or event, and is based on seasonal availability.”
Our “guestbook” was a canvas painted like our backyard. We asked guests to paint themselves in.
Desserts were s’mores which included gluten free handmade graham crackers courtesy of the founder of Ben’s Muffins.Live music was provided by The Hot Club of Nunaka.The parents looking proud.