Valdez – Alaska

Ho hum, another waterfall, another glacier. You can quickly get jaded after a month in Alaska. On today’s drive we, crossed over the Alaska Range. The same one that parallels the Alaska Highway, and impressed us so much the first week we arrived. Today, Anne’s comment was, “Those are pretty, but they don’t have snow on them so they’re not very high.”

Horsetail Falls
As the Richardson Highway descends into Valdez, several waterfalls decorate the cliffs.

Yesterday’s adventure was driving down to Valdez to have lunch with Sally, Fred and Deb. They chartered a boat to do a three-hour cruise to some island. The charter company delayed their cruise for two days, because the boat was in repair. The last we heard this morning was that boat left the harbor, but we haven’t heard back from them . . . yet.

Glacial Bogs
Tidal bogs provide wetlands along the road to Valdez.

We wanted to visit Valdez to see what it was like. It was raining and foggy, so we didn’t get to see much of anything. It’s another fjord port along the southern coast and the terminus for the Alaska Pipeline. What little of the mountain tops we could see from town, towered above the water, just like in Seward. And as I said, there was only a hint of them appearing now and then through the fog.

Bridal Veil Falls
Another water fall and in my opinion, the most photogenic along the Richardson Highway, is Bridal Veil Falls.

The most interesting thing that the Queen and I saw, was the massive school of pink salmon in the bay in front of the fish hatchery. I’ve seen Jacques Cousteau films of schools like this, but I was awe-struck when I saw it with my own eyes. There were so many fish in the bay that they had to bump into one another as they swam. Seals were coming up from beneath the school and charging them. We could see the fish boil to the surface as they tried to evade the hidden predators.

Behind us on the other side of the road, a small water fall came from the cliff, making a short creek that ran through a road culvert and into the sea. The creek too was salmon packed. Above the first small riffle awaited a gauntlet of sea gulls that attacked every fish that tried to make its way upstream. One after another, the salmon tried and failed. The fish still kept coming.

Deb, Fred and Sally told us how they saw other animals join in on the harvest. There were bald eagles, sea otters, and they saw a grizzly that appeared out of the dense woods. He strolled to the water’s edge and plunged his muzzle into the water and then retreated back to the forest with dinner wiggling in his mouth.

Worthington Glacier
Although we did see a Cal Worthington Dodge dealership in Fairbanks, I doubt that they named this glacier after Cal (and his dog spot).

The fish were so dense that fishing meant casting a hook into the water dragging it back intending to snag a fish. I was tempted to try my hand, but it was raining and my heart just wasn’t into fishing in that way. I watched a couple of guys haul in three or four fish in five minutes that way before we left for the drive back to camp. Unlike the waterfalls and glacier, we stopped to shoot along the way home, I doubt I will ever get to see another run of salmon like that again in my life.