We were not sad to leave Anchorage, too much traffic and too many people for these solitude seeking campers. We knew we had to be in Seward by July 24th for our Kenai Fjords tour so we had plenty of time to wander our way south. Our first detour was to Eklutna Lake. It was a beautiful winding road into the park and as we approached the entrance we caught the flash of something brown off to our right. So Jim slowly and quietly backed up and we spotted momma and her sweet baby grazing in the forest.
We sat there quietly for about 30 minutes watching these two, what a peaceful special moment. When momma disappeared into the forest we knew it was time to go.
We thought we might camp at Eklutna but decided against it when we discovered the campground was not on the lake. So we parked and hiked to the lake. It was a beautiful overcast day and the blue of the lake shone brightly in spite of the clouds.
The rain started and we knew it was time to move on-we knew our next stop would probably be Turnagain Arm. Even on a cloudy, rainy day this drive is incredible. The 3000ft Chugach mountains line the roadway on one side and the wide Turnagain Flats (in some spots, 4 miles wide) line the other. When we stopped at Beluga Point the wind was howling-we watched folks and their raincoats were puffing up so much we thought they would be airborne. I watched parents holding onto small children and expected that if the parents let go of their hands the children would be airborne in the winds.
I’m usually not a person who disregards signs that say “No Trespassing” but I was lured by the other rule breakers who had disregarded the signs and crossed over the railroad tracks to the overlook below. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
We hiked around the overlook for about 30 minutes and then the rains arrived and the wind drove the rain straight into us so we scurried up the hillside and back to the safety and warmth of Ruby, our Roadtrek.
We were going to try some stealth camping at Beluga Point but decided it was too busy of a turn out so we headed down the road. About two miles south of Beluga Point we came upon these brave adventurous souls. Out on the white caps in the howling wind we spotted a small group of kite surfers, taking advantage of perfect conditions for their sport.
I was snapping shots as quickly as I could when I realized two of them were actually performing for us. They would position themselves heading directly towards us, look directly into the camera and wave when they were finished. What a joy. And if any of them ever run across this blog-thank you !
After we left the kite surfers we found a nice pullout down the road a bit, overlooking the water and safely off the road. Tip, unless if you have ear plugs I would not suggest boon docking off the Sterling Highway in this area. It was zoom zoom zoom all night, traffic never ceased. We did sleep, but folks who wandered into the rumble strips along the road usually woke us up. We decided our next stop would be well off the highway.
Our trusty Ioverlander app indicated that there should be some boon docking spots off of Crow Creek Road so we headed that way. We passed some great spots deep in the forest but we wanted to be closer to the base of the mountain so we might sleep beneath a view of the glaciers. So onward and upward. We arrived at the trailhead and there was only a spattering of empty cars parked -owners doing the backpacking hike over the trail we presumed. So we leveled Ruby out with her nose pointing at the beautiful stream and settled in for the night.
What a switch from camping off the highway- we listened to the stream rolling over the rocks all night-beautiful.
The next morning, about 5am I woke up and stepped out of Ruby to use the restroom at the trailhead. I was still a little groggy and saw what looked like a black Newfie dog about 10ft in front of me-I thought wow that’s a big dog, until he turned and looked me straight in the eye. The look on his face reflected the look on my face, yikes human , yikes black bear. Fortunately he quickly scurried off into the woods, as I scurried back into Ruby. I waited about 5 minutes, giving him a little lead time and carefully worked my way to the restroom-making as much noise as I could to let him know I was still in the area. Never did see him again, but it was thrilling to make that eye contact-I can say now in hindsight with all my body parts intact!
We left this beautiful spot and decided to make a stop in Girdwood to check out The Bake Shop. If you pass through this area, make sure you drive into Girdwood and stop at The Bake Shop. It’s a sweet little spot, surrounded by pots of gorgeous blooming flowers. And their specialty sweet roll cannot be beat.
We have been spoiled ever since we had that roll, no other morning roll or cinnamon roll has even come close to it’s deliciousness. After enjoying our delectable snack and coffee we headed back to the highway and had decided we would look for a boon docking spot in the Portage Glacier area.
We found a beauty at Williwaw Pond. One of the rangers had told us it was okay to boon dock in the gravel area pullouts and this spot was perfect. The turquoise blue pond was to our right, incredible glaciers in back of us and along side of us-couldn’t have picked a better spot.
We spent three days here, hiking and exploring and had perfect weather. It was wonderful to see blue skies again. On our last day we were were parked at the Visitor Center and met Kevin, the owner and creator of Hugo the Big Green Van. He was as jazzed by our van as we were by his. We chatted for a bit and he asked if we were headed to Whittier. We hadn’t planned the trip but his enthusiasm convinced us that we should do it. And the clincher was when he asked if we heard the “word” on Whittier, “It’s shittier in Whittier”. LOL. He said we couldn’t miss going because this was probably the only day of the year when the skies would be blue and the sun shining in Whittier.
To get to Whittier you have to drive through a five mile train tunnel. Yes a train tunnel. The tunnel is shared by vehicles and the train on a very strict schedule-thank goodness. The Anton Anderson Memorial tunnel is the longest vehicle train sharing tunnel in North America- 2.5 miles one way. It was designed to withstand temperatures of -40 degrees F and winds of 150 mph. Plus it’s equipped with jet turbine ventilation to air it out between trips. Our Roadtrek, with our Komo carrier measures 25ft, so our fare was $13 roundtrip, not bad.
Whittier is small, as of 2015 occupied by 214 residents, most of whom live in the condo like tower residence called Begich Towers. The town is the gateway to Prince William Sound and so it’s not surprising that most of it’s visitors are fishermen, boaters and cruise ship visitors. We didn’t spend a great deal of time here mainly because we couldn’t find parking ! So we turned around and headed back to the departure point for the tunnel. It was a nice little detour.
As we made our way south we kept passing spots that we thought might be possible boon docking locations, but we were back in our Goldilocks mode, you know too big, too small and then oh yes –Primrose-just right ! 8 sites, bordering Kenai Lake and Primrose Creek. Sweet hiking trails, clean pit toilets and very quiet. And only 17 miles north of Seward. We settled in for two nights and knew that we would return once we left Seward after our tour-this was too wonderful to pass up .
When we arrived in Seward we decided to splurge $40 for hookups and a view of Resurrection Bay. We hiked the shoreline and enjoyed the breezes off the bay.
The next morning we were Kenai Fjords bound-under overcast skies and a little drizzle. I seriously believe that we brought the rain clouds with us from Seattle. They haven’t had rain since we left !
This was a great company to travel with-the crew was amazing. Always available to help in any way-with questions, hot coffee or pointing out highlights along the way. We saw puffins, humpback whales, bald eagles, a mountain goat, Dall porpoises and lots of glaciers.
If we ever return to Seward I would do this tour again-on a sunny day !
We arrived back at the dock at about 6pm and knew our next destination was going to be a return to Primrose for the night. You know us by now, if we don’t need to be in the city you won’t find us there . So we drove the 17 miles to Primrose, but this time instead of staying in the campground we boon docked right along side Kenai Lake. We were slightly above lake level so any time I looked out the window I felt like we were on a boat-nice way to spend the evening.
We woke the next morning to sunny blue skies and pointed towards Cooper Landing-fish on-Jim’s rallying cry. The sock eye were in, combat fishing was happening everywhere and we were in search of fishing holes.
We had no idea of where to go for fishing in order to avoid the combat fishing conditions. I’ll leave you for now as we search for the “fish on” sweet spot !
Until then, happy trails, safe travels and may all your days be sunny with blue skies !