We stopped last night at a beautiful view point in the Chugach National Forest. We’d been told you can stay overnight anywhere in this forest and this seemed as good a spot as any. Woke to 44 degrees F and a slightly overcast day. We’ve been pretty lucky with the weather in Alaska so we’re not complaining especially after reading about the weather problems elsewhere in the country. Since were told that camping was allowed anywhere in this National Forest, we plan to stay in the Portage section of the Chugach for the 4th of July eve. We were also told that the Chugach National Forest is the second largest national forest in the US.
Left our boondock site after a short stock market day (market closed today at 0900 Alaska time) and traveled east on the Sterling Highway. Near the intersection of the Sterling and Steward Highways is Turn Lake. We first went into the Turn Lake picnic area. There is a short boardwalk there and lovely views of the Turn Lake as well as the fast moving creek that feeds it. This turn off also connects the “Old Sterling Highway” with the new. We looked at that narrow dirt road and were thankful they had built the new, paved Sterling Highway. The sun was out and warming the day so we went to the other side of Turn Lake and watched the birds enjoy this marshy area (had to fight off the mosquitoes though).
The Sterling and Seward Highways–
Both of this highways are named Scenic Byways and that label is appropriate. Everywhere you look as you drive along is beautiful. I started taking pictures of just the beautiful views as we drove along. I soon had so many pictures my camera battery began complaining. So, we just contented ourselves with “Oh, Wow!” and “I can’t believe there is so much beauty here!”.
Decided to take the Portage Glacier cruise today. Had a coupon so it only cost us $34.00 for two. What a deal! We went out on this cruise for about 3.5 hours. Even though it was overcast while we were out, the Portage Lake was calm and you could stand on the upper deck of the boat a get a good look at this rapidly receding glacier. The face of the glacier is about 300 feet high with many parts of it looking like they might fall into the water soon but it did not calve while we were there. We love the boat crew’s instructions for the life preservers. Good luck in 37 degree water!
This small tourist town is located on Prince William Sound. The land route there is a single lane, 2.5 miles long tunnel through what appears to be a solid rock mountain. The tunnel is shared by cars, trucks and trains. It was built by the Greatest Generation in 1942 and looks like it will last forever! Every half hour the traffic from one side or the other is allowed through, unless a train is coming. The train gets precedence and the pass through time for traffic just gets bumped back a half an hour.
We’re not much for the usual tee shirt/gift shop tourist traps so decided to take a dirt/gravel road that runs above the town and along part of Prince William Sound. It turned out to be a very good road leading to lots of hiking trails. Looked for whales in the Sound but this is probably too close in for whales. Despite the fact that a drizzle had started, we did enjoy the overlook and watched lots of boats leave the little harbor of Whittier and go in and out of the Sound.