Posts Tagged ‘Valdez’

Worthington Glacier & Chitina 07/07-08/2009

Monday, July 13th, 2009

We left Valdez on the morning of July 7th travelling on Edgerdown Highway with McCarthy in Wrangell-St Elias National Park as our ultimate destination. We thought we were going to stay at Blueberry Lake State Park for a night while we visited Worthington Glacier.

We passed through Keystone Canyon and Bridal Falls. We drove through Blueberry Lake area. The lake was small and uninteresting. We decided to visit the glacier and head to a primitive campground at Chitina at the beginning of McCarthy Road. We parked our camper at Chitina campsite for 5 days. We stayed there the nights of the 7th and 8th. We also stayed there on 11th when we came back from staying the 10th and 11that Ma Johnson’s, a historic lodge in McCarthy. This posting concerns itself with the trip to Chitina and our initial day there with the salmon fishermen.

The trip continued to be plagued by smoke haze from fires burning in Alaska. This impacted our ability to get quality scenic pictures of the mountain views.

When we arrived in Chitina, we found a very small town on the Cooper River. There was a gas station with small grocery section, a liquor store, a couple of gift shops, post office, a visitors center and a ranger station. Chitina is the starting point of the McCarthy Road, which is a 60 mile Alaskan gravel road that leads to the historic towns of McCarthy and Kennicott.

The Cooper River is full of glacier silt and is very fast flowing. The river delta area around Chitina was full of silt blown by the strong winds that often occur there. Our primitive campground has inches of silt on the ground. Walking around there was like walking on moons surface. You were always kicking up dust.

Our campsite was setup by the state. There were picnic tables, fire rings and vault toilets. There was no water. You had to bring your own water or get refills in Chitina about a mile away. It was on one side of the road. On the other side were the salmon fish wheels, dip net fishing areas and a campground area maintained by the native tribes.

It was fasinating to see the different homemade fish wheels in operation. Each was unique but operated with strong current pulling the scoop nets around and around. We could see where the “caught” salmon would fall to the side into container as the net turned around. The fisherman all had the campers parked in random locations around the delta. There with ATVs all over the place. Alaskans call them over land vehicles.

Comments on talking to Alaskans: Sarah is a true Alaskan and she is loved by most of these people. Don’t mention Obama. They are true conservatives up here!

Columbia Glacier – Valdez July 5, 2009

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

We took  a 7 hour Stan Stevens wildlife/glacier tour to Columbia Glacier on July 5th.

Throught out the Valdez area there was a haze caused by smoke from several fires.  It got worse each day we were in Valdez. This tended to hurt the ability to fully capture scenary.

We saw humpback whales, sea lions, sea outers and eagles on our way to the Columbia Glacier.

The boat could only get about 10 miles from the Glacier. Ice bergs and solid ice choked the area in front of the Glacier. We also watched the Salmon fishing boats pull in their catch and a tender boat vacuum the catch from the nets.

We took a day off from all activity on July 6th. Tomorrow we are going to Blueberry Lake State Park about 20 miles away. We will visit Worthington Glacier. Then we plan to go to McCarthy in Wrangell-St Elias Park for 2 days.

Valdez July 4th Celebrations

Monday, July 6th, 2009

When we left Wrangell-St Elias to head for Valdez, our gas was down to a quarter tank. We had burned at lot of gas going back and forth into the park the last 3 days. We did have an extra 5 gallon tank just in case. We arrived at gas station with low gas light on.

When we got to Glennallen, we were told about their noontime July 4th community salmon bake behind the library. We went. It was very interesting to see a small Alaskan community celebrate the 4th in a picnic atmosphere. We had plenty of salmon, hot dogs, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, etc., sitting on the playing field watching the youth play Ultimate Frisbee. There was no charge! We made a donation to local Lions Club who put on the feast.

When we got to the RV park in Valdez about 4 pm, we were told of the Salmon Bake potluck that they were having at 6 PM. Since we got there late, we were exempted from bringing something. The owner used to be a commercial salmon fisherman. He often swaps cases of beer with his friends for garbage cans full of salmon for his RV Salmon Bakes.

The noontime salmon was cooked is smokers. The evening salmon was grilled with blacken spices. The food at the potluck was fabulous. Milly appreciated not having to prepare food for the day.

The evening fireworks seemed to last forever. People had their own and started blasting about 8 pm. The noise didn’t stop until well past midnight. We heard the town fireworks go off but had already settled into bed.