When friends come to visit, I like to take them to do things. Like see dead whales.Or go up hills.Carve pumpkins.Make them look at tall things.Make them look at pretty things.Make them go up more hills.Make them take selfies with me.Make them like it here.I showed them some glaciers and told them that the water was cold.I guess that some people need to figure things out for themselves.
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.
Feeling semi confident with my bow, I am looking for places where I can hunt small game. Having two hunting dogs, it seems that I should take them and put them to good use. One area open to hunting that isn’t too far away is the Powerline trail.
Near Indian Valley, hunting is allowed. I headed over there for my first time on the far end of the trail.
It was a beautiful hike and I was too low in elevation to get to any ptarmigan. I think. That is what I tell myself. We did not see any birds. At least I got some steps in. And is was hike 15/52.
Floated a creek up north with a couple of friends. Only used mouse patterns. Had blue skies and a lot of fun.Life is better with dogs.Navigating the cold clear water.We caught lots of fish. They weren’t all this happy.
Having successfully caught a King Salmon on the fly, I wanted to show me friends why it is so exciting. We headed back down to Anchor River and fished until nearly midnight. Hardly needed headlamps. Unsuccessful on day one, it did not matter with a “sunset” like this.
The next day, the river was closed to fishing so we got to explore Homer and the Homer Spit. Homer is in the news lately because of the fight on immigration that it is battling.
The next day, the river was back open and we hit it early. We spent a few cold, almost dark, hours practicing our casts, and hooking and losing a couple of fish. Then it turned on. We found the right spot and the right time and we crushed it. The freezer is starting to fill.
One bite at a time. Maybe with a beer. Is this real life?
Hike 11/52. There is something awesome about being on a frozen lake. It can be slightly terrifying. I felt confident that we wouldn’t fall through the ice, but then you see a big crack running the length of the lake and your mind starts to think, “what if?”We headed out down the middle of the lake with the wind in our faces. It was sunny, but not very warm.
The mountains don’t seem very far away when you are hiking here. It is only because they are enormous. You walk for hours and the things in the distance don’t seem to get much closer. Alaskan scale is different than other places I have visited.
After a few miles, there is a cabin on the left side of the lake. There is a road that you can walk on to access to the cabin. We returned on the road.It has a bit of a higher vantage point. We saw cyclists, dog sleds, and skiers out on the lake.