Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Alaska: Down to Seward


I got up early today and drove down to Seward, a port on Resurrection Bay some 125 road miles south of Anchorage.  About 30 miles out of Anchorage, along the steep slopes of Turnagain Arm I passed some Dall Sheep.  The first ones I saw were up on the cliffs above the road, where I’ve seen them before, and once even climbed the steep ridge and found their beds still warm, and a bit pungent, but just a mile or so farther down the road I started passing sheep right down on the road itself.

Just before getting to Girdwood, I saw some hikers on the railroad tracks far in front of me. (The tracks parallel the road along Turnagain Arm.) As I got closer my hikers turned into a moose cow and calf running down the tracks. The cow was swinging her huge head from side to side so she could keep an eye on her calf which was following behind.  Just as I got up next to them mom let the calf pass her then she swung out into the road in front of me.  After several false starts the pair finally crossed the road, their gangly legs seeming to go every which way, and headed up a valley. That's the second time up here in Alaska I've had to slam on my brakes and stop in the middle of the road because of a moose that didn't know how to signal a left turn!

The southbound traffic, my direction, was very light, but as I made the turn around the end of Turnagain Arm and started climbing into the mountains of the Kenai Peninsula tour buses, lots of tour buses, started passing me going the other direction.  When I got to Seward I found out that a Holland America cruise ship had landed there the night before and the passengers were being scattered around on various 'excursions'.

Seward is a pretty small town but the harbor is always interesting to wander around in The beach along the head end of Resurrection bay was full of campers and a lot of boats were moving around in the harbor but shore-side it wasn't crowded enough to be a problem.  I spent the day wandering the harbor, and town waiting for the tide to go out far enough for me to walk the freshly exposed beach down to Lowell Point where the remains of a bunker left over from WWII sits. Tides are high and fast around here so you have to time it right and keep an eye on the water or you just might get stranded out there. There’s talk of making an improved trail up above tide line but there’s been talk of that for years.

About 10 miles east of Seward down a gravel road that runs right alongside Resurrection River is Exit Glacier National Park and, like every other time I’ve visited Seward, I made my way out there. This is a spot where you can actually walk up to the base of a glacier with relative ease and touch ice that has been buried in the Harding ice field for thousands of years. Pretty cool

The traffic on the drive back to Anchorage was, as expected, heavier than I have seen on any of my previous trips but moved along much better than I had been led to believe it would.  In fact, the traffic on this two lane mountain road moved along much better than southbound I75 in Michigan, crammed with weekend campers heading home, ever thought about moving on a summer Sunday afternoon.

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