What a great morning—sunny and 53 degrees. It looks promising in Valdez, but we decide that we should take advantage of the good weather and head towards Tok. The drive out of Valdez is spectacular and we were hoping the clouds would continue to rise and we would be able to see the peaks of the mountains on the way out. We were rewarded. The views were pretty good on the drive out.
We followed the Richardson Highway all the way to Glennallen and then took the Tok Cutoff and continued to Tok.
It is great that we got to drive by Horsetail Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, the beautiful alpine area through Thompson Pass and Worthington Glacier again on the way out. We stopped at the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Visitor Center and hiked the short Boreal Valdez Forest Loop trail and watched a movie about the park. We got a flower, tree and shrub identification card at the visitor center. The card we would us to identify some of the flowers we have been seeing. It was a good thing we made the purchase. Sue was about to touch a plant called Death Canas which is highly poisonous and the recommendation is to not touch it. The card allowed us to identify it and stop any bad reaction. Most of the hike was very nice however; we forgot the bug spray and made the last third more of a sprint. The park consists of 13.2 million acres of wilderness. It is by far the largest park in the United States—it could swallow six Yellowstones! There isn't even a campground and there are very few established trails.
We stopped to cook dinner at one of the turnouts along the highway and then continued on until around 8 p.m. Sue fixed some our Halibut Cheeks. She sautéed them in lemon butter and garlic. They were great when combined with our blueberry cobbler. We ended up boon docking by the Indian River about 80 south of Tok.
Friday, July 13, 2007
It was 48 degrees when we got up in the morning. Our goal for the day was to make it to Tok which was only about 80 miles. This final stretch to Tok was a road that we had driven when we first came to Alaska. Our first impression was that this was a pretty area, but to be honest, it wasn't any prettier than Colorado and Banff and Jasper. At that time we formed the opinion that maybe people had hyped what how wonderful Alaska really was and decided that we would enjoy Alaska but weren't particularly "wowed" with it. So we had driven thousands of miles and we could have just gone to Banff and Jasper—oh well! Since then we have been to Turnagain Arm on the way to Seward, Denali, Homer, Valdez and we can honestly say WOW! It is truly hard to comprehend the beautiful vast wilderness!
On the recommendations of fellow travelers we have met on the way, we had to camp at the Sourdough Campground in Tok. This is truly a beautiful campground. It is heavily treed with large sites, not large gravel parking lots. They offer a free evening of entertainment. The entertainment is the owner(Ken Albright) of the campground and another couple (Seiglers) whom all played instruments and sang. The music was a mixture of gospel, modern country and western, and oldies by artists like Gene Autry, Roy and Dale Evans, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and may others. Ken was the comedian throughout the evening. He kept the audience in stitches.
While the entertainment was going on they offered Reindeer Chili or Chicken Corn Chowder both served on a warm Sourdough bread bowl. We had one of each which made a mighty fine supper for $7.50 a person.
After the sing there was a sourdough pancake toss contest. The object was to get 1 of 2 pancakes in a 5 gallon bucket. If you were successful you receive a free pancake breakfast the next morning. The kid got special treatment to insure they won and would bring their paying family for breakfast. Needless to say we did not win but did have a great breakfast anyway. I should mention that the whole time the toss is going on Ken is cracking jokes and telling stories. It is a most entertaining experience.