Day 26 – Anchorage to Valdez

We started on a mission today to get to Tok and then on to Haines tomorrow, but we I got side tracked a bit.  Since we were in Anchorage we filled up at Costco and then hit a Starbucks so I could get some business done and the health insurance taken care of.  It took about 90 minutes to complete, but then we were off and rolling toward Tok.  Several hours in we stopped at a cool looking glacier (Medisina or something like that) to take a look around.  We were hoping to hike up to it but apparently someone owns all the land around it and was charging $30 per person to hike and $100 pp for tours.  NOTE:  If you want to get folks in there, $10 is probably the max most will pay.   Needless to say we turned away and settled for some lunch a few miles up the road (i.e. proportional $$ for goods).  

We continued on to a town called Glennallen. And stopped at Safeway and then the library.  I met a lady in the library that had Arizona license plates that said AZ BEEF.  Her name was Liz Johnson from Young and we chatted for a bit.  Young is about an hour north of our property in Mesa.  Her and her husband are retired ranchers and have come up to Alaska for the past 10 years for the summers, and they are not the only ones.  Interesting the small world we really live in.

We turned right instead of left and headed into the Copper river valley.  We stopped at the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve and of course visited the Visitor’s center. We did a quick bear tour and the ranger still swears there are bears in Alaska and even quizzed us on blacks and grizzly bears. We told her they were more than likey in Canada and not in Alaska.

I wanted to head to McCarthy but after 25 miles on the road, and knowing we had another 60 on a rough dirt road, we decided to go to Valdez instead.  The 90 minute drive took us 3.5 hours because we stopped at Worthington glacier and hiked to the terminus.  It was really cool to see the solid frozen ice with dirt and gravel in it melting.  As we stood there the gravel and rocks were cascading off the melting ice.  It is so amazing how much rock and gravel these things move and being able to get onto one without a ridiculous charge or restrictions was really neat.  I have some really nice pictures of the ice at the very end and how it actually appears.  We did not hike higher up due to time but it was really amazing. 

As we crested the pass and descended into Valdez, we did a short 4×4 road to the edge of the mountain and got some great pictures.  It would have been awesome to camp there, but there was still 30 miles to go to Valdez and we were looking to camp in or near the town.  We saw some amazing waterfalls and rivers and scenery along the way and Valdez is a pretty nice community from what we have seen.  Tomorrow we will stop by the visitors center and maybe do a quick hike before heading to Tok.  It is about 14 hours to Haines so we will be moving on through Tok and getting closer to Hanes.  Today was long, we started at 6:30 AM and finally camped at 9:30 PM. 

The plan is wild camp again tomorrow past Tok, Day 27; Get to Haines on Day 28 and explore.  Take the ferry to Skagway and explore around on the 29th, and then head back up the the AlCan highway on the 30th.  That should put us into Whistler by July 3rd or 4th.   Check back for pictures.