The first thing you notice about Alaska even before you get off the plane is that everything is massive. It’s like being surrounded by Mt. Hoods.
Luckily we had a rental car we could just sleep in because there was a lot of driving to do and not a lot of time to break down camps.
The view of all the volcanos (including the active Mt. Clark) across the Cook Inlet is huge and will never be captured by a camera properly. I would recommend everyone visit this area before they die. I’m posting a boat-load of pictures and I hope you look at them all, but I don’t think they do anything justice.
click this image twice to expand then download the version you can zoom around in.
It’s a good thing they have giant lakes in Alaska because literally everyone fishes all the time.
There are way more flowers in Alaska than I imagined. It’s actually a lot more vibrant than the Pacific Northwest. The timber is very different also. The trees were small and we never saw a sign of the logging industry.
I wish I was back in Homer right now. We were lucky enough to be there when the beaches felt like California (just don’t step into the shade).
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” -John Muir. I saw this quote and remembered having read a lot about this mans work and his influence in Yosemite earlier in the year.https://docs.google.com/uc?authuser=0&id=0BxJPQTkcMlE1Q01UN2liTWZFM0U&export=download
Seriously the panoramic views never end here.
Wherever I go there is almost always one constant and that is the Seagull.
I had the most expensive sushi I’ve ever imagined, but it was worth it for the fresh salmon sashimi. After sampling the local food I saw a drawing of a Puffin and this whole trip took on a new goal. VIEW WILD PUFFINS!
I came for puffins. I found many many many many sea otters.
I went to a state park that was pretty well maintained, but still going somewhere you can only get to by boat gives you that awesome feeling of exploration.
Icebergs may be bigger than they appear.
This dog was funny because he is always on the lookout for seals. I was told it’s because they are basically dogs that defy all the laws of dog. Also all dogs in Alaska have sweet collars.
We basically skipped some stuff going down the Kenai peninsula that I’m glad we stopped for on the way back up. Well it was a total bummer finding this black bear that had a really jacked up arm though. People drive really really fast down the back roads in Alaska so animals really don’t stand a chance. I generally found that Alaskan were really nice people, but they seem to have a false perspective on some things because of the unrealistic appearance of abundance in Alaska. There appears to always be more bears and ice and fish in Alaska, but it sadly isn’t true. For example anecdotally a native Alaskans told me when he first moved here it would be consistent 40 below and 12 feet of snow (not in the summer), while now there is barely 4 feet of snow and it’s 10 below. However comments like that were followed by someone saying the ice isn’t going anywhere and they would rather have Obama “spend less time worried about ICE and more time worried about ISIS”. They’re entitled to their opinions, but I find it curious that people like me in the cities often take nature less for granted.
Soo many glaciers! Click through the image to download the full zoomable.
Apparently the Turnagain Arm is named because Captain Cook was looking for the northwest passage and had to turn again! We were told we would see a ton of animals by the locals, but we hadn’t (yet), so we went to a refuge to see them up close and being super lazy and bored apparently. I definitely wasn’t supposed to touch the animals, but that Moose was lazy and totally let us pet him. Also a Grizzly Bear seriously thought he was doing a professional photo shoot or something.
Baby Elk are adorable!
These blue winged birds were all over Alaska, we really enjoyed seeing them.
Lots of itchy animals at the refuge.
We got so lucky catching the Beluga whales chasing the salmon up through the tide.
We moved north to Denali, but the weather took a turn toward average for Alaska.
I tried to take pictures while it was clear. You can always see the rain falling around you, because even with the mountains everything is so vast you can see very far.
Apparently this is a hotspot for Mountain Goats and I still can’t find them. Mountain Goats will forever elude me.
We were stuck in the clouds in Denali so we decided to try to find the Northern Lights in Fairbanks. Spoiler alert: we didn’t see the Norther Lights.
I basically had to take a picture of every sled dogs at Chena Hot Springs.
If you’re still with me you’re probably wondering if I really have MORE pictures. The answer is yes, but now that we went back to Denali for the first seasonal snowfall I’m sure it will be worth your time.
I didn’t care if I got trapped personally, but apparently we could get trapped if the buses into the park kept going any further while the snow was falling. So we spent about 3 hours just literally waiting on a bus and staring into the distance. The skies also never cleared so I wasn’t able to see Mt. McKinley, but apparently that’s typical all year round (it was McKinley for a couple more hours at this time). Ultimately the buses did move us in further which you will see, but we only made it half way through the park rather than all the way like we had hoped for. I like to think it was worth it to go there during the snowfall. Typically these areas are closed except for the dead of summer.
This valley is freaking massive. We were questioning how many Seattles we thought could fit in it.
Buses stopped again and I was pretty bored without a lot of hiking in the park.
Here are the pictures you were waiting for of the cubs. This was definitely one of the coolest moments in my entire life alongside snorkeling on Kaua’i (which I will post a story about soon)! I learned that apparently Brown Bears can be black and Black Bears can be brown. It might be harder to tell in the pictures but one of the brown bear cubs is totally black. Apparently it’s pretty rare to see the little first year cubs, so again we got pretty lucky.
It had rained so hard when we went north I missed some of this beautiful terrain until I was driving back south again toward clearing skies.
We had to kill a day before our flight and clean up at a hotel. We still saw plenty of nice things around Anchorage though. There was a bear right on the frisbee golf course and even more moose on the cross-country ski trails. The parks in Anchorage are a billion times better then our parks. The first one I went to included marked and rated single-track mountain biking trails, marked and rated cross-country ski trails, a few frisbee golf courses and ~30 miles of walking path along the coast. Even the most remote spots in the parks had well cared for flowers and planted areas, which is a lot more than I could say for some of the parks in Portland that are smaller.
To give a couple of these images coming up context I was trying to show how there is a Tidal Bore around Anchorage that I saw take take tide far out then wash in.
We left this rock at literally the last moment before it was an island. I was just being lazy wasting time taking photos out on the other side of it. Didn’t realize we would have been stuck until we were leaving by chance.
The last thing I did before leaving was nerd out at the world’s largest float plane base. It’s like a traditional airport layout right next to the paved airport.