Thompson Pass to Foggy Valdez

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”

-Edward Abbey

764A5485

I was reminded by several friends to NOT miss driving Thompson Pass and now I get it.  Breathtaking.  And we were certainly blessed to have the sun shining on our shoulders the day we tackled the drive.

764A5486

I have fallen in love with the mountains of Alaska-they are huge in your face beautiful.  And the Chugach Moutains fall right into that same category. Thompson Pass is a 2800 foot gap in those mountains that you will pass through on the way to Valdez.

764A5490

764A5494

From everything I’ve seen and read I’m not sure I would attempt this drive in the winter. Here is what Alaska.org has to say about Thompson pass : “If the weather is intimidating, it’s one more opportunity to experience the thrill of the alpine without putting yourself at too much risk. This part of the Chugach Mountains gets clobbered by rain and snow and wind. Storms come off the North Pacific, run into this massive coastal range, and dump their loads. The average snowfall at Thompson pass exceeds 700 inches (the 24-hour record is 90 inches!). If you look at a map of Alaska, the vast glaciers and ice fields that line the coast are a testament to this volume of precipitation—most of which never reaches interior Alaska.”  Can you even imagine 90 inches of snow in 24hours ? Wowzer.

764A5498

As you start the climb, the Worthington Glacier comes into view-make sure you stop here.  You can hike to the toe of the glacier and it’s gorgeous beyond description.

764A5503

764A5506

764A5509

764A5510

If you look directly above the S in my signature, between the blue colored ice under the dirty gravel and the waterfalls on the right, you will see a tiny dark figure.  That’s another photographer who hiked up the glacier for closer shots.  Gives you some perspective on the size of the glacier !

764A5511

764A5520

Just beyond  the Worthington Glacier turn off we pulled off the road to enjoy the view.  Plus we were trying to see if there was any feasible way for a non 4×4 vehicle to get on the dirt road that looked like a prime boon docking spot.

764A5521

Unfortunately Ruby was not going to be able to tackle it-not high enough clearance.  But it sure looked inviting and like an absolutely amazing place to boon dock-look at that view you would wake up to !

764A5528

764A5532

And if you aren’t into boon docking, Blueberry Lake Campground is just a little bit down the road from Thompson Pass.

764A5533

764A5536

764A5538

764A5540

764A5546

As you drive towards Valdez you will enter Keystone Canyon.  Make sure you take advantage of the pullout on the right, stop and enjoy the view of Bridal Veil Falls.

764A5554
Keystone Canyon

764A5573

764A5581

764A5588

As we came down through the Canyon we entered the land of fog and rain, also known as Valdez.  It was about 1pm and felt like 10 pm.  We tooled around town for a bit then headed outside of town to explore Allison Point.

764A5615
Allison Point, somewhere in the fog.
764A5616
Literally hundreds of salmon swimming and splashing around

We had been told by some folks that Allison Point was where to go for salmon.  As you can see from the above picture, it definitely was filled with salmon.  At this time of year it was mostly pinks, which I understand are better for smoking then eating fresh.  We watched two local women catch one after another non stop.  It was crazy. We sat there for about 30 minutes watching and then decided we were going to head out.  We had checked out the weather report and the rest of the week was filled with 80-100% chance of rain and we were cold to the bone.

764A5619

764A5590

764A5595

In spite of the weather or maybe because of the weather, Valdez was beautiful dressed in fog, soft and mystical.  Not how I had envisioned Valdez, so it was a nice surprise.  So goodbye Valdez, we are off to see if we can drive the McCarthy Road up in the Wrangell St. Elias.  We had heard the road was in bad shape, but hey that hasn’t stopped us before.

Happy Trails and safe travels.  Remember  :

” And when the fog’s over and the stars and the moon come out at night it’ll be a beautiful sight.”

-Jack Kerouac

2 thoughts on “Thompson Pass to Foggy Valdez

  1. Mary Korbulic

    So beautiful ! Thanks for all the tips and directions. I sent this post to my uncle, who is a geology professor emeritus and really into glaciers and mountains. Mary Korbulic ordinarylife-mk.blogspot.com

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s