Part 15: Valdez to Skagway, AK


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The Trip

One of the last things we did in Valdez was to update the web site. In my haste, I committed 2 sins. First, I had failed to set a control in my camera to prevent shutter release with no memory card present. Second, I failed to take my memory card out of my laptop. These two issues resulted in me missing several days of photos. That said, there was really not that much missed. We had already seen the sights from Glenallen to Valdez and we had to retrace our route to get to Glenallen. And, there were a number of fires in central Alaska and the air quality and visibility was really poor. In fact, we took the so-called Top of the World Highway and could see nothing but smoke in the distance. But, we finally did discover that the card was missing and we replaced it. And we changed the setting to provide additional warning about a missing card.

From Valdez, we went north to Glenallen. We stayed at a State Park just north of there and met some nice folks on vacation from Bremen area of Northern Germany. From there we went to Tok and then north toward the village of Chicken, AK. Since Chicken did not look that interesting, we continued on to another State Park and stayed the night next to a rather large creek. The park was essentially empty and the accommodations were clean and nice. Except for for the mosquitoes it would have been an ideal campsite. From there, we continued east and crossed the Canadian border and headed into Dawson City and took the ferry across the Yukon River. Sadly, for the reasons described above, I captured no photos.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

From Dawson City, we went south and stayed the night at another State Park. This one was in the Yukon, but the facilities were more than acceptable. We got a spot right on the creek and the shot above was the view out the back door of the camper.

As we headed south, we passed a calm river where we could see the reflections of the mountains in the distance. Note the haze due to the forest fires.

Speaking of fires, we passed a number of areas that had previously burned.

No trip is "complete" without seeing another Unimog. On the highway south, I spotted this rig and we had to turn around to get a photo. There were no markings, but I think it is a 1200. The mog was tasked with mowing the side of the road.

The mower deck was big and driven by the PTO.

We spent the next night in Kluane National Park at a park campsite. It was nice and we were essentially alone (except for the numerous mosquitoes). Next morning, we headed over to Lake Kathleen. The 'skeets were hungry, so we did not stay long. The shot above had a combination of both smoke and haze from the ocean.

Another shot of Lake Kathleen. She was excited to find her namesake as a Lake, but once she "experienced" the mosquitoes, the fervor dissipated.

From Lake Kathleen we headed south toward Haines, AK. Along the way, we spotted these swans.

We passed some pretty big rivers and most of the peaks still had plenty of snow.

Plenty of flowers were in bloom.

I think this is called Lupine.

At the pass on the way into Haines, we got great views of the mountains on the crest.

There were plenty of glaciers on the distant peaks.

Note that the pass was above timber line and therefore devoid of trees.

The pass had plenty of lupine in bloom.

Some of the glaciers had large faces.

Downhill from the pass we encountered this bear on the road. By the time we got close enough for a high-quality photo he was long gone.

On the route into Haines, we passed this glacial river that emptied into Chilkat Bay.

There were plenty of glaciers visible from the road. Note the medial moraine at the limit of the glacier in the photo above. These glaciers carry a large amount of material with them as they flow down the mountain.

The river was highly braided.

At a road side pullout we spotted this granite statue of a bear.

This device is called a fish wheel. It uses the force of the current to spin the nets to catch the fish.

The bay at Haines, AK.

Some boats in the harbor at Haines.

South of Haines at Chilkat State Park we got this great view of a massive waterfall coming from the lower part of a glacier across the Lynn Canal from our position.

The waterfall under the glacier is visible in the photo above.

At Mud Bay, we saw this commercial boat docking area.

We visited a Unimog buddy in Haines and had an impromptu BBQ with oysters and crab. When we finished the BBQ, we headed for the ferry that would take us to Skagway. If we had not elected to not take the ferry, we would have had nearly 500 miles of travel ahead of us. The ferry trip was only an hour.

The ferry is part of the Alaskan Marine Highway System and was big and in good repair. We loaded onto the ferry through the side of the ship. The loading process was quite protracted, but we did finally get on board.

Once we boarded with the mog and got our assigned position in the hold, I took this photo. Note all the plumbing under the deck above. This was a big ship and had food service, a bar and sleeping quarters for both the crew and passengers. Of course, you have to pay extra to be able to have a room.

As we left the ferry dock at Haines, we had a nice view of the mountains south of the city.

We saw many waterfalls from the ferry. The one above was the largest one we saw.

As the sun was getting lower, the view from the fan tail was awesome.

Another nice waterfall visible in the waning light.

Another tall waterfall visible to the west of our position.

The passage from Skagway to Haines was heavily traveled by cruise ships. When I spoke to the folks in Skagway, they stated that during the summer, they get between 5 and 6 ships a DAY that dock at Skagway. That is a lot of people in a very small town.

The docking facilities at Skagway can be seen as we approached the port.

When we tied up at Skagway, the crew used this big winch to tie the ferry to the dock.

It was a shame that we missed a few days of photos, but of any of the portions of the trip so far, this was the set to miss. As of this posting, the fires are still burning and the smoke and haze is visible in the Skagway area. If we are really lucky, the fires will not impact our travels.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2009, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.