Alaska Camping 2008
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Days 1 and 2:   July 9-11, 2008
Turnagain Arm and the “26 Glaciers Cruise”
Days 1 and 2 - Turnagain Arm and the “26 Glaciers Cruise” from Whittier.
Our plane arrived at nearly midnight on Wednesday, July 9 under completely cloudy skies with a low ceiling. Our local car rental place picked us up.  We headed directly to the city campground at Centennial Park which was surprisingly active at 1:30 am.  Although the sun supposedly set at 11:40 pm, it was still twilight and we didn’t need the flashlight to set up the tent (or for any other reason the whole trip).  Thursday morning, we supplied ourselves at Fred Meyer, Costco, and REI and then spent some time at the Anchorage Museum downtown.  Finally, in mid afternoon, we headed south on the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm.  I was impressed by how much of last winter’s snow still persisted on the peaks and slopes, nearly down to sea level in places!  The weather seemed to be improving, so we phoned ahead and reserved spots on the “26 Glacier Cruise” out of Whitter for the next day.  We camped at the Forest Service Williwaw Campground near Portage Lake.  The long days made it difficult to keep track of time.  It seemed to be perpetually late afternoon.  We even had time for evening hikes up to Portage Lake and the Byron Glacier around 9 pm.
Friday, we woke to drizzle and low clouds covering the mountains.  We were committed to the cruise (reserving the day before requires payment in full), so we got together warm clothes and rain gear and headed early through the tunnel to Whitter.  It was completely in the mist. The cruise didn’t leave until 1 pm, so we walked around town and then up their boardwalk trail to the Bridalveil Falls lookout in light rain.  The clouds were moving higher and we even had occasional glimpses of peaks.  By the time the cruise started, the rain had stopped completely and the clouds were high enough to reveal the glaciers and many of the peaks. The cruise crew said it was a “good day”.  The glaciers were certainly impressive and the cruise was well worth the time and money.  We returned to Williwaw campground to find partly clearing skies.
2512-Green tundra carpets south slopes above Turnagain Arm
2514-Phil wears a short sleeve shirt for the first & last time.  Turnagain Arm
2515-Closeup, head of Turnagain Arm near Girdwood
2522-Extreme tides in Turnagain Arm (30’ )expose large mud flats.
2528-Lupines on Trail of Blue Ice above Williwaw Campground
2533-Byron Glacier above Portage Lake
2536-Aspen just leafing out below Byron Glacier - only about 500 feet elevation!
2541-The boardwalk trail to Bridalveil Falls above Whittier, in the rain.
2538-Whittier Harbor in the mist - not a good start for our glacier cruise
2551-Our “26 Glacier Cruise” passed many Sea Otters in College Fiord
2554-Sea Otters float in College Fiord in groups called “rafts”
2566-Harvard and Yale Glaciers tumble into the end of College Fiord
2573-Karen on the cruise boat in College Fiord
2576-One of many side valleys with waterfalls in College Fiord
2586-Cascade and Barry Glaciers in Barry Arm
2594-Surprise Glacier in Harriman Fiord
2605-The intense blue ice in the face of Surprise Glacier in Harriman Fiord
2606-Karen looking at Surprise Glacier in Harriman Fiord
2615-Phil looks cold by Surprise Glacier in Harriman Fiord
2619-Barry Glacier is a long valley glacier spilling into Barry Arm
2621-Smaller Coxe Glacier tumbles to the south of Barry Glacier
2625-And Cascade Glacier drops over a thousand feet north of Barry Glacier
2628-Face of Barry Glacier.  We saw two chunks fall off and make large waves.
2641-Hundreds of Kittiwake nest on a cliff near Whittier
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All materials Copyright Phillip Farrell.
Last revision August 10, 2008.