On Sunday we had a lay in. We had booked the ferry from Whittier to Valdez for Friday so there was no rush. In Anchorage, we first walked a bit of the coastal cycle path at the Earthquake park. The earthquake hit this area in 1964 and had a magnitude of 9.2. All the buildings along the coastal line were destroyed and some were moved some kilometres inland. Several other small towns along the Kenai peninsula were also devastated and had to be rebuild further inland too. The tsunami which followed the quake was high but caused no extra casualties. The area we were walking on is restored by nature since the quake. The trees looked already mature 56 years later. The ground is however very “rippled”. We decided to drive further into town and rent a bicycle to cycle the complete trail. It was a lovely ride along the open coast line and through the coastal forest. At the airport, where the large planes flew just a few meters overhead, we turned around. Jamaliah had an e-bike but Rudy not. So at some steep stretches over hills Rudy was puffing. Before leaving Anchorage for the drive to the peninsula we had a nice hot shower at the sport facilities next to where we had spent the night.
Driving out of town, we followed the Turnagain Arm of the Cook inlet. The tide was coming in and at several points along the way you should be able to see surfers attempting to ride the bore tide. We waited at 2 different points but the tide was not as high as predicted and the surfers paddled hard but could not ride it. The night was spent at the parking lot of ski resort at Girdwood.
The following day we stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre. We could now take close-up pictures of the animals we saw in a distance during our trip. The highlight was a Bison which had just given birth. The mother was licking the calf clean and nudging it to stand up. Eventually it did this and found its way to the tit for milk. It rained the whole day and also all the following days. Apparently it is the most wet August in history. Just our luck.
The Kenai peninsula is well known for Salmon fishing but also for hikes through the forest and trips to see the many glaciers. We camped 2 nights at a nice roadside pullout overlooking the Cook Inlet. Some of the clouds had lifted so we saw the snow covered volcano on the other side of the inlet.
We drove down to Homer at the end of the peninsula. All along the long split are campsites full with large motor homes and small tourist shops. Kenai peninsula must be on the main tourist route from Anchorage. At one of the more original artist shops we bought our Alaskan souvenir: A soapstone carving of an Eskimo fishing.
Driving back along the peninsula we made a detour through the mountains to Seward and camped overlooking the Exit glacier. It was covered with clouds most of the time but when we walked towards the foot of the glacier in the morning it was clear. Along the trail, signposts showed dates of how far the glacier had retreated over the years. The viewing point was next to the glacier in 2005 but now already the glacier is several hundred meters further up the valley. They will have to make a new viewpoint. On the way to Whittier, we stopped at Portage to walk to Bryon Glacier. Slightly longer hike than Exit Glacier but here you can actually stand on the ice. Along this hike we finally saw some big trees.
Whittier is a small town only reachable through a narrow train tunnel. The rail tunnel was made by the army in WWII to supply a secret military base. In 2000 the tunnel was finally opened for car traffic and now every hour a group of cars/campers is allowed to drive over the tracks through the 4 km tunnel. The tunnel ends in town which is no longer a military base but a busy freight and tourist harbour. Tomorrow afternoon we will catch the ferry to Valdez ( 6 hrs trip) through the Prince William sound.