Porcupyn's Blog

July 14, 2017

Alaska Trip – Day 11

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 10:32 pm

Today, the plan was to leave my mother in the Airbnb and go early in the morning to Seward to view the Exit Glacier. We planned to return at about noon or slight after that, with lunch from Seward. After having lunch, we would then head down Sterling Highway all the way down the other end of the Kenai Peninsula to Homer.

It was a bleak day when we set out, after having some bread sandwiches for breakfast, with bluebuerries and coffee. Forecasts called for light rain as well. We were glad that we had not encountered this weather yesterday, when we had our cruise out of Seward in “brochure” weather, as the crew had put it.

As was the case yesterday, we did not encounter too much traffic or delays related to traffic and were at the Exit Glacier visitor center by about 9:30 am. We waited around for the hike group to form, when we learned that there had been an earlier ranger-led hike that had gone further up the trail. Had we known about it, we would have definitely made an effort to be there earlier; however, it was now too late to catch up to that one. Oh well!

Our hike was quite easy. It was quite enlightening to see how far the glacier had retreated in the last century, based on the markers built along the hike trail. But what was really surprising was how much vegetation had built up in the last three-four decades where there used to be just glacier back then! The ranger explained to us the symbiotic relationship between the Alder trees and the Cottonwood trees that dominated the vegetation.

Tongue of Exit Glacier

Tongue of Exit Glacier

After about an hour, we got to the end point of the trail from where we could see the lip (though if you ask me, I would term it to be the ‘tongue’) of the glacier.

At the Exit Glacier, sections are roped off but the ranger was kinda iffy whether or not folks go past those to get closer to the glacier, At least, while we were there, everyone heeded the signs and no one went past the ropes. He told us that should we want to get closer, we could stay on the trail that led up to Harding Icefield, but being wary of bears as well as being short on time, we decided to head back.

On the way back, we first went to Seward and got some sandwiches from Subway as well as some other grocery items such as bread and snacks. Driving back, we saw that the lake (later I found out that it was Kenai Lake) looked really beautiful nestled between the mountains. I stopped the car and tried to see if there was a path to go all the way down to the lake to get a clearer and closer photo; however, there was no clear path and any way to get to the lake was pretty steep. So, I abandoned that thought and got a few photos from the roadside instead.

Kenai Lake

Kenai Lake

Even with an automatic camera, it is possible to bring out the contrasts in the scenery based on the exposure!

These two photos are from the same spot ...

These two photos are from the same spot …

... taken one after the other!

… taken one after the other!

After coming back to our lodge, we had a quick lunch and left for Homer. During my initial research, I had remembered reading about a volcanic mountain that would be visible from here, as well as glaciers across the bay. There were also ferries, I had learned, that would take you to a carless location (Soldovia) where you could go on short treks up to glaciers. Of course, though we did not have time to spare to do any of those activities, I wanted to go all the way to Homer, come hell or high water! Thankfully, we encountered neither, though it was drizzling for most of our drive there.

On the way, we passed through Sterling (reputed to be a great spot for fishing, an activity that didn’t really excite us … and bears, which definitely did not excite us either!), Soldotna (this is where I had originally reserved accommodations before realizing that we needed to be at Seward, not Kenai, for our cruise), Kenai River, and many other picturesque locations. Soldotna surprised us – I had not realized that the town would be as big as it was, especially after having encountered communities such as Whittier, Seward, Moose Pass, etc. Had I researched this area more and had we had more time to spare, we might have had a separate vacation trip to Soldotna as well, just to laze around and enjoy the sights! However, as it was, we went straight to Homer.

Into the haze

Into the haze

By the time we reached Homer however, the fog and drizzle had set in. It was difficult to see too far into the Bay. In fact, after we returned and even now, I am unsure whether we were looking towards the volcanic peaks or across the Bay into Kenai Peninsula itself. I would say this was the second worst weather day of our trip (the worst being the day we drove from Palmer to Denali in steady rain all day long), but given that we had already done whatever we wanted to do on the trip, I was not too miffed.

Though we could not see past the water very well, I could get a good enough close up of this boat on the water

Though we could not see past the water very well, I could get a good enough close up of this boat on the water

Raindrops on some plants at a rest area/welcome center at the outskirts of Homer

Raindrops on some plants at a rest area/welcome center at the outskirts of Homer

On the way back, I could not help myself taking this photo

On the way back, I could not help myself taking this photo

Though we never could really see Russia from anywhere on Alaska however much we craned our necks ;-), we did pass by this community that apparently still follows Russian traditions and some of them even speak Russian!

Traffic was pretty heavy that evening as the weekend was just getting underway (it was a Friday). We saw a lots of platoons of cars headed towards Homer. We were glad that we didn’t have a lot of traffic in our direction and reached the lodge after an uneventful drive.

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