“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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 !
And if you aren’t into boon docking, Blueberry Lake Campground is just a little bit down the road from Thompson Pass.
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.
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.
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.
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.”