This morning Judi said since it was only going to be a short drive today she wouldn't have too many photos to deal with this evening. Boy was she wrong! These last 3 days the scenery has just gone from great to wow!
While having breakfast, we heard & then saw Trumpeter Swans taking off from Willow Lake. We now know why they're named "trumpeter" - they really do trumpet as they take off. We were able to get photos right from the breakfast table. Does it get any better than this?
We, almost reluctantly, left Willow Lake & headed to Valdez. We drove along the Alyeska Pipeline - the oil pipeline that runs from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. We missed the pipeline info center yesterday so will have to stop on our way back out of Valdez.
The mountains, rivers, wildflowers, streams, waterfalls & glaciers made for a spectacular drive. Glad it was a short drive - we would have gone into sensory overload if it had been any longer. Ha!
We drove over Thompson Pass,, which is only 2,678' but is above timberline because of the harsh winter conditions. The Nat'l Climatic Center credits snowfall extremes in Alaska to Thompson Pass where record measurements are: 974.5" in 1 season; 298" in 1 month; & 62" in 1 24-hr period (all set in the 1950s). The snow poles along the road attest to the fact that they still get a lot of snow here. The number of glaciers in the area also prove the extreme cold as well as amount of snowfall. But it's a beautiful area in the summer.
Water is rushing off the mountains right now. We saw rivulets & streams running down every mountain & a lot of waterfalls. The most spectacular falls were in Keystone Canyon - not far out of Valdez.
As we drove into Valdez we saw seagulls & ducks nesting in shallow ponds near the road & a black bear in a meadow near the Visitor Center. Think this will be an interesting area. We got set up in Bayside RV Park & will spend 4 days here. So, more later...
Critter Count: Black Bear - 2 (20) - Trumpeter Swans - 5 (19)