Honeymoon Day 4: McCarthy to Valdez, Ak

posted in: Hikes, road trip | 0

This post is admittedly not about Sprout. In fact, it is pre-Sprout. However, we thought some people may be interested in our Alaskan travel and wanted to move our prior posts to this blog. This is post 4 of 13 in our Honeymoon Series.

Location: McCarthy to Valdez, Ak

For the first time since arriving in Alaska we woke up to a clear blue sky. After enjoying some delicious freshly baked almond-poppy seed muffins (definitely our favorite of our morning treats thus far), we packed up and said goodbye to our temporary home quickly so as not to waste the clear skies.

We were able to view Mt. Blackburn, the 5th highest peak in the U.S., which we had not been able to see on the previous days due to low hanging clouds. The views were breath taking as we made the bumpy drive out McCarthy Road. We encountered another unhappy moose, some fresh snow on the road, and re-survived the treacherous bridges. Back on the Richardson Highway (aka Alaskan Route 4), we briefly stopped at Willow Lake to take a picture of the Wrangell Mountains through the Chugach Mountains towards Valdez (pronounced Val-DEEZ).

We were told by the gas station operator of the only gas station along the 120-mile stretch of highway between Glennallen and Valdez, who apparently operates a gas station out of his home, that a guy driving in from Valdez spotted a family of moose including the cow, bull, and some calves along the river paralleling the highway. Amateur wildlife photographer Jacqui had her eyes glued to the window consequently, but the meese were missing for their photo shoot. We did get some amazing shots at the record-holding location for largest snowfall in a single season at National Weather Service Station (974.1 inches), and the most snowfall in a single day (62 inches), which, perhaps unsurprisingly, was still covered by substantial quantities of snow despite being June 5th. Aaron apologize profusely to Jacqui while not so secretly fantasizing about backcountry skiing.

Panoramic view of Thompson Pass

We descended into Valdez, passing through Keystone Canyon, named for Pennsylvania and renowned for a gunfight that occurred at the turn of the 20th century over a railroad tunnel that was cut by hand through solid rock. It, to this day, remains unfinished and the road ironically runs directly beside it. Valdez is a beautiful Alaskan city (of approximately 4,000 inhabitants). It is surrounded by peaks on all sides, some of which tower 7,000 feet above the town, except for one narrow exit into the Prince William Sound. Aaron’s backcountry skiing fantasies continued through the afternoon as he pointed up at various mountains while touring the town’s scenic lookouts saying to Jacqui, “That one’s skiable, I think those are tracks.” Jacqui was skeptical.

In the Valdez Museum, we saw the lens system for the original Valdez lighthouse. Aaron was distraught by the missing units of measurement in the lens’ physical specifications and pestered the approximately high-school-aged boy who worked there until he looked up a satisfying answer. The boy, however, did not show any signs of frustration, rather he appeared as curious as Aaron… he may have a future career in theater. After tracking down some extremely fresh halibut and calamari for dinner and sitting on the bay’s edge watching dogs chasing birds in the frigid water, we are looking forward to leaving on the ferry tomorrow for the next leg of our trip in the Kenai Fjords.


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