Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Anniversary Trip to Homer

This is the post for our trip to Homer in October. I'm sure it looks different there now as our winter is definitely here! Plenty of snow on the ground and cold temps!

Arrived in Homer about 8 on Friday night after leaving Anchorage early that afternoon.
We stopped by the grocery to try and buy herring to fish with on Saturday. Unfortunately, they no longer had any herring as it was no longer fishing season. And as we soon found out, the stores all across town had stopped selling herring. As a last resort, we purchased chicken gizzards to fish with on Saturday. Finally arrived at our beach rental at Land's End about 9:30. It was windy, rainy, and cold. We got up Saturday morning and hit a few of the local shops and had lunch while we waited on the low tide. When it was finally time to fish, we braved light rain and high winds as we made our way to our selected fishing spot.
We shivered and fished for over an hour before I caught the first fish of the day, a rockfish.
 I fished for about another hour before deciding that the jetted tub in our room would be more comfortable than trying to fish in the wind and cold rain.

 Greg fished about another hour before also catching a rockfish about the same size.

 It was only after his fishing chair blew away for the fifth time that he decided to give it up as well.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Labor Day in Denali

Sorry for the delay in posting. I've been out of town for several weeks. Thought we'd catch you up on our fall trips. We left on a Saturday to go on a trip to Denali. After eating dinner that night, we drove into the park on animal patrol.
 As it was cold, windy, and drizzly, we were completely shut out. On Sunday, we decided to do something different so we drove to the other side of Healy and took Stampede Road.
This road leads to the Stampede Trail made famous in the book by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild, and its subsequent movie. Stampede Road is paved for about the first four miles and goes on for about another four miles. But beware, the road is very rough and a high clearance vehicle is preferable for the rest of the way.
We took our time in our little Ford Fiesta and went the distance. Most people leave their vehicles at 8 Mile Lake and start their journey on the Stampede Trail.
 The road goes through a swath of land managed by the state of Alaska with Denali National Park just to the north, south, and west of the state lands.
 Although we saw several vehicles, mostly trucks with trailers for ATVs, we didn't actually see anyone else the whole three hours along the road. We took the opportunity to walk around and enjoy the beauty and solitude.
 Greg walked out into the marshy, boggy area for a bit.

 If you are thinking about hiking to the Chris McCandless bus, do not take this trek lightly. Some people have died trying to make the journey.

 This year alone many others have had to be rescued by helicopter after suffering injuries or not being able to get back across the rivers. We finished off the afternoon by doing a little fishing on Otto Lake.
 Greg managed to reel in a rainbow trout before the cold and rain got the best of us. After dinner, we drove back into the park but didn't see any animals.

 On Monday before heading home, we again drove into the park to Savage River. This time we did manage to spot a moose. The drive home was rainy but we got home safely Monday night.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lake Louise

We arrived at Lake Louise around 6 p.m.
We had a picnic of leftovers just outside our room overlooking the beautiful lake.
Then we took a stroll around the shoreline and just enjoyed the gorgeous evening.

 This lake gets little precipitation as it sheltered by four mountain ranges. It does connect with two other lakes, Lake Susitna and Lake Tyone. Together with a few rivers, they form a waterway chain through this part of interior Alaska.  Lake Louise has an area of about 26 square miles.

 There are many birds here on the lake. Bird Island, one of the many islands found here, is a nesting site for gulls. Lake Louise is also known to be the only freshwater nesting site for cormorants. A loon was sounding off during the night we were there. Its mesmerizing trill floated along on the evening air.  The lake is also well known for wonderful lake trout fishing. It is not uncommon to reel in a twenty pound lake trout here! Many people come to the lake and ice fish in the winter. The next morning we enjoyed a good breakfast at the lodge and set off for home. A couple of members of the Nelchina herd were also using the road this morning.
When we see a site like this, a mother caribou and her calf, we realize just how cool it is to be here in Alaska.
Yes, the road really is that wavy!

The harsh winters sure do a number on the roads. Of the sixteen miles we drove on this road, the vast majority of it was like this.

We finished out our drive home enjoying many gorgeous views, including this one of the Tazlina Glacier.

 We made it back to Anchorage by about 7 p.m. We were both tired after thoroughly enjoying a great trip.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Richardson Highway

We continued our afternoon by driving north on the Richardson Highway. We stopped several times to enjoy the views. One roadside stop near Glennallen offered wonderful views of a trio of impressive mountains. Mount Drum, Mount Sanford, and Mount Wrangell, were all glowing in the afternoon sun. A calm day allowed some dramatic mountain reflections in the nearby lake.

 Mount Drum, a stratovolcano or composite volcano, has many layers of hardened lava and eruptions forming its steep profile.
 It looked rather imposing in the distance even though its last volcanic activity was some 240,000 years ago! Mt. Drum's elevation is 12,010 feet high.
Located to the east is Mount Sanford, a shield volcano.
Supposedly, they look like a warrior's shield when viewed from above. These types of volcanoes are wide and are formed when lava flows instead of exploding from them. Mount Sanford is 16,237 feet in elevation. The last eruption here was about 300,000 years ago.

 A bit further east is another shield volcano, Mount Wrangell.
 Rising 14,163 feet in elevation, this mountain looks really wide and expansive. Of the three, this is the one with the most recent volcanic activity. Mt. Wrangell experienced an eruption in the mid 1880s or so. We stayed for a bit before wandering on to our home for the night.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Thompson Pass, Part 2

Here are some neat facts about Thompson Pass and a few more pictures of the afternoon we enjoyed there.
 Thompson Pass is the snowiest place in Alaska with an average of 551.5 inches of snow per year.
 In the winter of 1952-53, the most snow ever recorded in one season fell here. The Pass got a whopping 974.1 inches of snow that year!! This is the most snow ever recorded in one season in all of the United States.
Also, the Pass holds the record for the most snow falling in a single day. 62 inches of snow fell on December 29, 1955.
We really enjoyed walking along all the trails and climbing over the rocks.
                                                  It is truly a beautiful place.
As the sun began to fade behind the majestic mountains, we headed on down the highway.
 Thanks to the gift of sunlight, we were able to get some beautiful views of Worthington Glacier.
As we were starting to run a bit short on time, we skipped hiking to the glacier this time.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Thompson Pass

Remember to click on the pictures to make them larger.

We continued to take advantage of this beautiful sunny day by stopping to investigate all the lakes, rocks, and hiking trails we could.

 We didn't see any fish in this crystal clear lake but we just enjoyed walking around it.
Greg took this pic of me and thinks it reminds him of an early 1970s record album cover!
We also took the opportunity to enjoy the stunning mountain views,
some of the mountains were carpeted in green while others in the distance wore an icy white coat.
 This pass in the Chugach Mountains is about 2,805 feet high and gets quite a bit of snow.
The day was just so gorgeous that we stayed out playing on Thompson Pass for hours.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

On the way home from Valdez

Got up and treated ourselves to one last breakfast at Totem Restaurant before hitting the road again. It was a beautiful sunny day! Everything seemed green and alive.
We stopped at Horsetail Falls which is right on the Richardson Highway, not far out of Valdez.
 We then made our way just a bit up the road to enjoy Bridal Veil Falls. The sun shone beautifully upon the waters, making them seem to come alive. It was an awesome sight.
 We began making our way further north and we were able to take in all the breathtaking scenery that we couldn't see on the way in a few days ago.
It does snow quite a bit here. You can see these snow poles high above the road that help guide the plows to clear the roads.
 The sunlight was perfect and we found ourselves stopping often to absorb the views and enjoy this
 delightful day.