I am back in Alaska!
It’s a bittersweet trip for me as it is my “Last Hurrah” as the 2014 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail. I have a few days of time to explore before I officially report for duty on Friday for the Iditarod Summer Camp for Teachers.
Today my good friend, fellow teacher, and Iditarod fan Sara Lamont picked me up for a grand tour Sara style!
We planned to drive to Girdwood and do a bit of sightseeing and hiking. We started off with a stop at Bird Point to hike out on the boardwalk and see the amazing view. Well… it would have been even more amazing… it was a pretty cloudy, rainy, dreary day!
Our next stop was Alyeska Resort. WOW! It’s a beautiful place… but I was surprised at how dark it seemed when we walked into the lobby. Everything was a dark paneled wood… not really what I would have envisioned in a place in the midst of the beautiful Alaskan wilderness. You couldn’t see any of the surrounding beauty from the lobby. It just struck me as strange!
We picked up the Winner Creek Gorge Trail for our hike in the rain. I was thrilled to see the trail markers indicating that we were hiking part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail! It was a really nice trail. It actually goes through North America’s northernmost rainforest and crosses two gorges. One crossing is on a nice wooden bridge, but the other is a little more exciting… it’s a hand tram! Basically it’s a little wire cage that crosses the gorge on ropes. When you are ready to cross, you get into the cage, close the gate and then pull yourself across the gorge by the ropes! It was pretty amazing. The views from the middle are breathtaking as the water thunders down the gorge below your feet!
Our final stop was to head to the Portage Valley to visit the Visitors’ Center for the Chugach National Forest. By this time, the valley was so windy that the rain was falling sideways! It was crazy! We got to see some exhibits of the environments, animals, and stories of the area since we were clearly NOT hiking anymore! Sara told me that the building used to be the Portage Glacier Visitors’ Center. Apparently, when Sara first moved to Alaska twenty-five years ago, you could come to the Visitors’ Center and watch a movie on the Portage Glacier. At the end of the movie, the curtains would open to reveal the glacier you had been learning about through the windows! However, over time, the glacier has continued to recede and can no longer be seen from the Visitors’ Center, so it is now teaching visitors about the Chugach National Forest. We did drive up the road a bit and around the bend to see the Portage Glacier! It was pretty neat – even though you had to kind of squint between the raindrops to see it!
Tomorrow I am taking an early train to Seward to spend a few days. Not sure how my internet will be… but I’ll do my best!