Trip Report! Alaska -- Taming the Last Frontier Part 6 - IMAGE INTENSIVE!

Discussion in 'Adventures By Disney' started by sayhello, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Continuing Day 6...

    After our "Salmon Bake" lunch at the Alyeska, those of us who wanted to re-boarded our motorcoach and headed out with Rae for an optional hike up to Byron Glacier. It was a relatively short ride out towards the Portage Lake area, and to the trailhead to the Byron Glacier trail. I have to admit I forget exactly how many of us went. I know there was Karen, Krista, Sherry, Annie, Tony, Nancy and I, and I know there were a couple or 3 others, but boy, I'm getting old, I can't remember which ones they were. I'm thinking at least Tom... (I didn't get a picture of the whole group. That usually helps me remember!)

    But anyways, we started up the trail to the Glacier (very, very green!) and as we got closer, it started drizzling. Nothing that would stop us from the hike or enjoying it, but the first rain we'd seen the whole trip! We had either a drizzle or a mist going for the rest of our time there.

    Byron Glacier is cool, and right there, you can hike up to the base of the ice. As you can see, at this point, the ice has become separated from the majority of the glacier, which is now a "hanging glacier" (does not come down to the water).

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    The ice area is surrounded by rocks & gravel, and, as you can see, the ice has melted where the runoff from the glacier poured under it. I saw some video on the Internet from someone who had gone into the ice cave, but as cool as it looked, you'd never get me inside there!

    We did hike up onto the ice, which was fascinating, if a bit slick! I kind of wished I'd had my hiking boots with me. I was able to get around with my tennies, but I would have felt much more secure & at ease with a bit more traction... (That crevice to the left of Krista & Karen is *DEEP*!)

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    Rae had found a plastic disc-type sled that someone had left up there, and had some fun sliding around on the ice.

    Click on the pic for a video of Rae, squealing like a little girl!

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    Several of the group had headed back to the motorcoach while we hiked up on the ice. The rest of us had a photo taken to commemorate the intrepid hikers. (Note new fleece vest!)

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    As we headed back, still through the drizzling rain, we encountered the best part about drizzling rain:

    The rainbow!

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    It's faint, but definitely there!

    We then re-boarded the motorcoach and headed back towards Girdwood. But there was another stop, at the Begich, Boggs Visitor's Center in the Portage Valley. I have no idea why it's called Begich, Boggs, but there you go! They had some movies, and neat exhibits, and a nice little gift shop. We spent less than an hour there, but it was a nice little place, and a fun, unexpected added stop.

    Ice floating around in Portage Lake from the Visitor's Center.

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    The rest of the day was "on our own". By this time, after cleaning up, I was ready to head down into Girdwood and see about getting some dinner. I met up with Patty, Tom, Mary & Matt again, and we decided that, rather than take the shuttle bus into town (think really, really small town) we'd check out one of the restaurants recommended by the guides. It was within walking distance to the Alyeska, and the weather was gorgeous back at the hotel. So we walked along the wonderful walking path they have between the hotel and the town, and headed up to a very cute, very popular little restaurant called Jack Sprat's. We met Krista & her group there, as well as David & Mim. Apparently it had been VERY busy before we got there. As it was, we still had a bit of a wait before we got seated. The food was really good, and the atmosphere very nice. I had a hummus plate & soup. Yumm!

    Afterwards, we were going to walk back to the hotel, but just as we exited the restaurant, the shuttle bus showed up, so we decided we were meant to take it. What an odd experience that was! Mim had mentioned the bus driver was a little strange, and she wasn't joking. Not the world's best driver, and he kept up a running dialog of stuff from his life, I don't even remember what all. Matt kept up a running conversation with him; I think it was to keep the bus driver calm... And he took us ALL OVER TOWN, including BACK TO JACK SPRAT'S before eventually getting us back to the Alyeska. We could probably have walked back faster! But it *was* an experience!

    Day 7 - Glacier Express


    The next morning, Rae offered to take whoever was interested on a hike to an area up behind the Alyeska called the Winner Creek Trail. It sounded really cool (there's an area over a deep gorge where there's a hand trolley you use to pull yourself over to the other side. I wasn't sure I was gonna be able to make myself do it, but I thought I'd try...) But they were MEETING at like 7am for the hike, then doing breakfast AFTER the hike, then meeting for our rafting trip. Let's see... get up REALLY early, go for a long hike without breakfast, rush around, OR sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, then meet up for the rafting...? Well, it should be no surprise that I slept in! I am on vacation, after all, and there's a point at which you just gotta sleep in! Krista & Karen were the only ones who actually showed up for the hike, so I didn't feel too guilty! They said it was a great hike. Some day!

    It turned out to be a good thing that I didn't go, anyways, as I realized that I hadn't brought enough of one of my prescriptions with me 0_o !! and spent part of the morning calling around to my doctor and the Fred Meyers in Anchorage arranging to pick up some extra pills for the last few days of the trip (since we were *sob* heading back to Anchorage the next day).

    So we met up at the motorcoach at like 10am, and headed out to the lovely, spacious, Girdwood train station.

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    The train we were going to take (part of the Alaska Railroad) was a one-car train, whose sole purpose this time of year is ferrying people from the Anchorage/Girdwood area to the Chugash National Forest to either do the River float, or go to an area a bit further on for hiking. In fact, since that's all the train does, we were told we could pretty much leave anything we wanted on the train, as it would be picking us up on the way back after dropping off & then picking up the folks going to the hiking area.

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    While it was not the world's most scenic train trip, it was a lot of fun, and a great way to get to the drop-off point for the rafting trip. (And, in fact, the ONLY way to get to the drop-off point for the rafting trip!)

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    The view out the back of the train

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    In March of 1964 (on Good Friday), there was a 9.2 magnitude earthquake in the Anchorage area. In several areas, the ground actually liquified and sank up to 6 feet. This house is one of the few remaining homes that were in the town of Portage that were destroyed (and left for historical purposes).

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    When the ground dropped, sea water flooded the area (there was a tsunami) and the trees died and were petrified by the salt.

    There are "forests" of these petrified trees all over the area.

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    From the train: Bald eagle on a petrified tree!

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    Moose! I like how this picture almost looks like an impressionistic painting...

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    We picked up the folks running the float trip (and their rafts) on the way to the starting point for the float trip. They issued us *lovely* rubber boots for use in the rafts. We were warned (thank you fellow DISers!) to wear REALLY warm socks, because even though the boots were water-proof, they weren't insulated, and the water was COLD! Yay! for polar-fleece socks!

    Me, in my stylin' boots, at the lake at the foot of the Spencer Glacier.

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    They fed us lunch before we boarded our rafts. It was sandwich fixings, hot soup and muffins. Plus the sugar-free cookies Rae & Jesse had gotten for me & Tony. Tasty, simple foods, and plenty of it. Fortunately they had a tent put up, as it started drizzling while we ate. We were issued ponchos to keep us dry. Rafting goes, rain or shine!

    We were given the option to spend more time getting closer to the glacier (it's farther away than it looks) or doing the float down the Placer River). We decided to do the float. We spent a short while looking at the Glacier, and the icebergs that had broken off of it.

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    Our river guide

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    Up close with an iceberg

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    The weird thing about this chunk of glacier ice was that it was *not* melting in my hand, and did *not* make my gloves wet! It was *SO* solidly frozen...

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    We then headed off down the Placer River, past tons of lovely green mountains, Fall foliage and distant glaciers. This was really just a river *float*. There was one area with a bit of churning water, but really nothing I'd call rapids. But the scenery was beautiful, and the water was SO cold, so this worked just fine!

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    The "new" bridge.

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    The remains of the old bridge, which fell during the 1964 earthquake, and were left as a monument to the earthquake.

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    We eventually made it back to the load-in point just as the train pulled in, and caught the train back to the Girdwood station, and our motorcoach back to the Alyeska. We were then given time to clean up, start packing or whatever, before meeting back in one of the conference areas at the Alyeska for our Farewell Dinner. Amazing that we were almost done with this trip! Waaah!

    Continued in Part 7 (Last part!): Continuation of Day 7.
     
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  3. kenaiwitch

    kenaiwitch Mouseketeer

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    I'm am so glad you enjoyed our beautiful state and sorry you didn't get down to the Kenai, Soldotna area where I live. Alaska is beautiful in the winter, all snow covered this is when the northern lights are the most bright even as far south as we are.
     
  4. Diskidatheart

    Diskidatheart DIS Veteran

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    I'm bummed because your trip report is almost over. I'm so glad you had such a great time. I'm looking forward to reading the last day. By the way, I agree that the picture of the moose looked like an impressionistic painting with a big 'ole moose running through the middle of it. The picture of the bald eagle is awesome. They are such a majestic bird. So glad it was decided long ago to use the Bald Eagle as a symbol of our country instead of the Turkey.
     
  5. glassslipper2004

    glassslipper2004 DIS Veteran

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    I love the pictures of your Byron Glacier hike. Somehow that looks like what I expect Alaska to look like -- icy! It must have been quite an experience to hike up there.

    The river float looked very cold - quite a contrast to the toasty warm SWS rafting trip, where we swam along next to the rafts. Were you able to stay warm enough to enjoy it?

    What a beautiful trip - thanks again for the trip report.

    :goodvibes
     
  6. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Thanks, kenaiwitch, I really, really did enjoy your awesome state! I know there is MUCH more of this state to see; I've been to the Kenai peninsula twice, and have barely scratched the surface! I know Alaska must be beautiful in the winter, and I'd love to see the northern lights... Maybe some day I'll brave the cold and do that!

    What a nice compliment!!!! Thank you!!!!! :flower3:

    Thanks, I really did have a great time. It was a great trip, under fabulous conditions! Can I call myself Monet for that moose pic??? ;) And thanks re: the bald eagle pic. I agree; much more impressive than the turkey! (poor turkey!)

    Thanks, glassslipper! It's funny how many people commented to me that they thought *ALL* of Alaska was snow and ice, and how surprised they were with the lush greens and Fall foliage. It was very cool hiking up on the ice field, if a bit intimidating due to the lack of traction!

    The river float was *definitely* not like the SWS rafting trip. We didn't paddle, just the guides. And the water was very calm. And it was rainy, and the water was FREEZING! Believe you me, nobody was going swimming beside the rafts on this trip! Except for our feet, though, it wasn't that bad. And I'd been warned here about the water around our feet (self-bailing rafts) and wore 2 layers of very warm socks. The ponchos they gave us were quite warm and very waterproof, so, even though it was drizzly, we mostly stayed dry. And I had lots of layers on... So I was totally able to enjoy it. I think most everyone did; I didn't hear anyone complaining about being too cold.

    You're welcome for the report. It's really my pleasure to share all this!

    Sayhello
     
  7. Bobo912

    Bobo912 DIS Veteran

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    Sayhello, wanted to share a couple of photos with you from Bryson Glacier, because I was so surprised to see how different the area looked when you were there.

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    Here we all are wearing shorts in the snow. They guy in front dressed in all the Arctic gear was wearing that so he could take a gag photo to show his friends back home.

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    Here is our rafting guide. The guide's attire was quite different from your trip. I recognized your guide, so this young lady may look familiar to you. She made an amazing leap from the boat to the shore at the end of the trip and pulled all the other rafts in.

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  8. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    WOW! It's amazing the difference a couple of months can make! I can't believe how much more ice you had than we did. And yet it looks like it was WAY warmer. Which could explain what happened to all the ice....

    Again, wow! Looks like a good time, though! The guy in the Arctic gear is a hoot!

    I'm not sure about her... The other guide had dark hair, and a knit hat on... And the third (with a different group) was a guy, if I remember correctly. That's not the same gal that we had, is it? Sarah, her name might have been? Summer mode?

    Thanks for sharing the pics! You definitely had me beat for weather for that hike and the rafting!

    Sayhello
     
  9. Bobo912

    Bobo912 DIS Veteran

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    There was still a couple of inches of snow over the ice at Bryson Glacier when we were there. The kids had a blast having snow ball fights and trying to sled down the hill.

    Our guide was attending the university in Fairbanks, so she probably had to go back to school. Your guide was with us too. She was in Mike's raft. Lucky her. :)

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  10. robson12

    robson12 Earning My Ears

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    Wow,so beautiful!Your trip is so great!I ADMIRE YOU.
     
  11. GeorgiaAristocat

    GeorgiaAristocat <font color=purple> Côôl DIS Veteran <img src=htt

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    Thanks so much for the wonderful report you have put together. I just spent the last few (how many?) minutes reading all of your installments. I am *considering* what to do for my 11th wedding anniversary in 2011 - Disney Alaska cruise with the kids (then almost 9, barely 7 and 18 months) or adult cruise or adult ABD??

    Can't decide - but you make a great case for ABD!!!!
     
  12. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Snow was definitely all gone at Byron Glacier when we were there. It was all ice and rock. Still very cool, but no snowball fights!

    Yep, that's our guide, alright. I think our float trip was just about it for their season; our guide was heading back to school, also.

    Why was she lucky to be in Mike's raft? :confused3

    OMGosh, Thank You! :blush: You're making me blush! Glad you enjoyed!!

    You are quite welcome! I LOVE sharing my vacation & photos with everyone. I get to extend my fun & relive how great it all was! Thanks!

    I think any of the 3 options you're considering will be great. Just depends on what kind of vacation you are looking for. I like a bit more active vacation, so the ABD was perfect for me, but I've done an Alaska cruisetour before (Princess, no Disney 3 years ago!) and had a fabulous time on that, too. I'd really try and get some sort of option that gets you inland; while the Inside passage of Alaska is cool, my favorite parts are the parts the cruises don't go to...

    Enjoy whatever you choose!

    Sayhello
     
  13. Bobo912

    Bobo912 DIS Veteran

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    I was just joking because he's a bit of a character. But he's a really nice guy, so I guess she was lucky after all.
     
  14. mtschanen

    mtschanen Earning My Ears

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    sayhello,
    Your trip report is fantastic! The photos are amazing! I enjoyed your references to the 1964 earthquake. My husband was 9 days old when that occurred. FIL was in the army and they were stationed in Anchorage. They moved back to Ohio later that year so DH doesn't remember anything about his time spent in Alaska. We are planning on doing the ABD trip in 2011 for our 25th anniversary! :woohoo:

    If you don't mind my asking, which airport did you fly out of in Ohio? We are located in NW/N Central Ohio and that will be one of my many decisions to make-as we are abt same distance from Columbus, Cleveland and Detroit.

    Thanks again for sharing your travels with all of us!!
     
  15. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Wow! Thanks, mtschanen! I'm so glad you enjoyed my Report and my photos! I'm really pretty proud of them! :cool1: You'll love the trip and you will love Alaska! It should be a great anniversary celebration. Make sure ABD knows it's your anniversary, they'll do some little special things...

    I flew out of Port Columbus (CMH) in Columbus. The main flight was out of Chicago (to Anchorage), and there are a lot of flights from CMH to Chicago. You can also fly Columbus to Seattle to Anchorage, but I preferred the schedule (before it went out the window!) through Chicago.

    Sayhello
     
  16. disneytraveler

    disneytraveler <font color=purple>will the real celeb please step

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    :wizard:Wow Sayhello, beautiful :)
     
  17. briano72

    briano72 Earning My Ears

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    fantastic!
     
  18. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Glad you like! :goodvibes

    Sayhello
     
  19. disneytraveler

    disneytraveler <font color=purple>will the real celeb please step

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    :goodvibes
    Sayhello,
    Thanks to your wonderful trip report ,i am taking a cruise next month to Alaska. Its on Princess Tours. I dont think i would have thought of Alaska if it was not for your trip.Its only a 7 day cruise but maybe someday i will take the ABD tour or cruise longer.:wizard:
     
  20. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    That's so cool! You will love Alaska! Are you doing a round-trip or a one-way? Which ship? Where does it go? I sailed with Princess to Alaska in 2006, and it was wonderful. I do agree that someday you should take a trip that includes the inland areas of Alaska (Denali, Kenai, etc) but for now, the cruise should be wonderful!

    Sayhello
     
  21. disneytraveler

    disneytraveler <font color=purple>will the real celeb please step

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    i will be on the Sapphire Princess. Its round trip from Washington. It is going to Ketchikan,Tracy Arm,Juneau,Skagway, Victoria,B.C, and then back to Washington.
     

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