Leaving Alaska-Part 2

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Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
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Holy cow, this is really the last of it. The story comes to an end.

After the experience of having our minds blown, unconditioned bodies stressed and my emotions rocked, my little Katmai family elected for an easier day in Seward. The local music and arts festival was serendipitously going while we were visiting, and considering we had missed all forms of festivals while in Katmai, that sounded awesome. We had also heard that Seward's Sea Life Center was top notch, so our chill day became planned. The Sea Life Center was great, full of local fauna and great info. The festival... could have been quieter and more artsy. My ears may have lost a couple years of hearing, and that is from a guy who goes to metal music concerts. But it was a nice way to enjoy a day of chill society.

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Lighting in aquariums is always rough, so I got a bunch of bird pictures. LOL. I had a kittiwake hit my head while flying and puffins look like they are flying underwater when they dive.
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As a break from ocular pain we drove to the end of the road on the eastern side of Resurrection Bay. This random glacial creek sure was pretty.
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After our rest and enjoy Seward day, we decided to do another hike. One thing that was frustrating about Katmai was a lack of access to the resource. It was thus awesome that Seward has so much access to the Chugach National Forest trails and tracks of wilderness from those. Wild Alaska became far less arduous. So we drove to a trailhead and set out for Lost Lake.

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So rainforesty!! Really neat and different.
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And yet alpine tundra was just a walk up the mountains.
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We found Lost Lake!
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Reaching Lost Lake, I elected to take a siesta at a nice vantage point while the others wandered onto the lake's peninsulas. Just watching the clouds and light change across the view was pleasant enough for me. The colors were mind boggling: turquoise lake, lots of green but also lots of fall yellow, contrasting off mountains that I thought only existed in northern Alaska. I imagined all the possibilities from here. So many possible adventures. Maybe working in Kenai Fjords NP would be a fun experience. AMAZING glaciers and wildlife next to an area of scenic wonder and access. Hmm.

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Such a nice spot. I'd love to spend a nice sunset and night up here.
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Our next day was our day of departure. Alaska was transitioning to winter and to stick around would become steadily harder and harder It was time to go back to the lower 48. But with our flight out near midnight, we had plenty of time for another adventure. As we drove north we diverted into Portage Valley, hearing that Portage Glacier was something that every glacier admirer should see. So we drove through the tunnel to Whittier, parked the rental, and hiked up to Portage Pass to see what we could see.

Seward on the morning we left. It's a cute little town. Oh, and Lost Lake was up on the benches visible to the left.
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Glaciers above Portage Valley
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Portage Glacier. When my dad visited back in the 80's it nearly crossed the lake to the near shoreline.
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Reaching Portage Pass, we weighed time and what we thought we could do. The glacier has receded so much in years that this trail that once ended at the ice would now end at Portage Lake. Could we get to the glacier? We decided to check it out. And with one frigid creek crossing that took the boots off, made it to the ice.

People take small tour boats up the lake to get close to the glacier. Soon it will be off the water and a pretty different experience for these folks.
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Ice is infinitely beautiful. It is harsh and yet soft. It's lines are geometric and yet organic. Color varies across the spectrum of blue. GLACIERS REALLY LOOK BLUE!!!! And water drips off every bit of it. A rushing creek flows from below. Standing under a dramatic overhang made the butt pucker as snaps, crack and pops constantly filled the ears. The glaicer's dying is not peaceful, it is full of utterances of sadness, pain, fear, eternity.

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I found a small ice cave that I felt confident wouldn't collapse on me. It was thin enough and covered in enough debris that it was really neat in there.
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After quite the photographic geeking out, it was noticeable how each of the Katmai family had settled down to ponder, be emotional. Not only were we seeing the story of this glacier's end, but we were seeing the end of our own adventures. We had all set out for a summer beyond belief, but were still blown away by how far beyond that expectation it had gone. In many ways it had been a hard summer, but in so many more it had been mind blowing, beyond words.

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Thanks for looking at my Alaska posts everyone. It's been really fun and emotional for me to share them with y'all.
 

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Kmatjhwy

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Thanks again Scott for this trip report and photos! Now seeing those photos of Portage Glacier brought back memories. Seward is the one place that in my travels to Alaska, that I did not get to. In the summer of 2015 when up in Alaska, I made it there to Whittier and did the hike up and over to Portage Glacier. It was a nice hike and glacier. There is really sooooo incredibly much to Alaska. One could spend their whole life up there and never get close to seeing it all. Also that Prince William Sound from Whittier on over to Valdez and Cordova is really Awesome! Thanks again!

Wishing You the Best!
 

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