Nan and I headed out of Anchorage and made our way over to the Richardson Highway so that we could make it to Valdez and our visit with Beth and the Lu-Lu Belle and the rabbits. On the way we were slowed down my the eye candy along the highway.
How to tell that you have been Alaska for 6 weeks? When you drive past a glacier you don't say to yourself, "Wow, a beautiful glacier!" instead you say to your navigator, "Look, another glacier !" as if it was the tenth one that you have seen that day....
Evidence the guys from Liz's motor cycle gang from Homer have passed this way and are missing her. Who knew she had this secret life?
Posted this one already on Facebook......I think it speaks for itself....
When I communicated with Beth I told her that Nan and I were about 150 miles away from Valdez and that the GPS predicted "such and such" time for our arrival. I mentioned that we would be a little later than that because of the "dog" stops and the pull overs for scenic views. She laughed and said she expected that it would take us much longer than the GPS predicted due to the sights. She also warned us that we were not to miss stopping at the Worthington Glacier on the way.
As usually, Bethers was correct in her recommendation and estimation of time. Here is the glacier as you see it driving cheerfully down the road.
The glacier that has all the trails leading up to it is the tail on the left. Here it is below a little closer.
And here it is a little closer still. Wait those little dots are people, standing out on the glacier! (Dots, right above the blue ice.)
One or two large rocks to walk around.
You can't even see the pond in the next picture from down below on the trail looking up. We met a couple from Wisconsin heading down that mentioned that they thought the trail on the right was not as steep. What Nan and I discovered that there wasn't just two trails through the jumble of rocks and boulders but multiple possible tracks. Until you had actually scramble up through some of the obstacles did you get to consider whether or not you have made the best choice for your particular climbing abilities and knees..... Nan and I tries separate trails and promised to come searching for the other's body if one of us didn't make it back to a rig. Who knows what would have happened if both of us had disappreared.... (There were other climbers scattered around, so no fear....) I did have so fleeting imagery of the helicopter lowering the basket for my broken body to be hauled away in.
People for the perspective of size.
A picture of my feet taken while standing on the foot of the glacier. Need to remind you that glaciers are made of ice and no I didn't have those neat ice crimpers attached to my shoes...balance was precarious to say the least therefore calling for the unusual stance. I got off the ice as carefully and quickly as I could. I was glad that I was not one of those individuals walking farther up on the glacier. I would have been on my butt.
On the walk, scramble , climb back to the bottom I noticed a couple of these "sink holes" in the gravel. So glad that none of them decided to open up under my foot.
I had seen Nan waving to me from the top of one of the other HIGHridges and paths so I sought out a trail of sorts that would take me over to her side. First I climbed down from my ridge and started up the incline to the top of the other pile. This hill and these rocks were not meant for my knees but I kept hearing my daughter's voice in my head telling me, "You can do it, I know you can." I won't tell her how many times I needed my hands and feet to reach the top. Don't tell her!
When I did get to the top of that ridge the view was very nice but Nan had already made it back down towards "base camp."
The view from her ridge was higher up than the section of the glacier that I had approached, which you can see just I little of over on the right. This would have been the trail to take to walk out onto the top of the glacier like the folks in those first pictures. Nan and I both agreed that we had done enough mountain goat climbing for one day. And I did stand on the glacier, just not on the top part. And I never did fall on my butt. And we both slept well that night.
We hiked, crawled, back to our rigs and headed down the final stretch of the Richardson Highway into Valdez. Apparently we are not the only ones that have decided that this highway has some of the best vistas of all the drives in Alaska. Below is a view coming through Keystone Canyon north of Valdez. Doesn't Herschel do a nice job of taking a picture through the windshield?
And as Beth had known we would, we also stopped for pictures of the falls along the river.
...and the rocks beside the falls along the river.....
We made it in and checked in with Beth. After walking the dogs briefly we headed off with Beth for a quick drive through town and then out to the fish hatchery where the momma bear and her four cubs have been showing up regularly. Well, the salmon show up regularly, also. An the seals. And the otters. And the eagles. And the gulls......
Oh, about the rabbits you ask. Beth said that a family in Valdez in the past had raised rabbits in town and when they had to leave (for whatever reason?) the rabbits had been turned loose. These are your black rabbits and white rabbits and gray and brown....all those nice rabbits that I have admired back in the 4-H bunny barn back in Ohio. The did survive the winter. At least some of then have been surviving the winter. They are pretty laid back rabbits though and are not afraid to just hop around the edges of the sidewalks or slowly meander across the street. Stuart couldn't under stand why he wasn't allowed to pursue them. He was trying to file a protest with the correct authority right before I managed to get him out of town....for cruel and unusual teasing of dogs.