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Portage Valley, AK

Posted by on August 28, 2015

Y’all know I’ve got my list of what is available to do in each place we will be going. On the way to Seward is the very small hamlet of Portage Valley. We didn’t think we were going to be able to do any of the activities I’d found in the Portage area because of time and the distance it ended up being from our base camp, but on a whim on the last afternoon we were in the Seward area we loaded up and went. We didn’t get to go to Whittier (which is also in that area), but we did get to go to the Portage Lake and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (which are the two things I really wanted to do anyway!).


Thought y’all might like to see what traffic can be like even here in Alaska. It’s always for road work. We sat here for maybe 15 minutes waiting. Not a bad view though!


We went to Portage Lake and the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center first. In the picture above you can see two of the six glaciers in the area. Five of those glaciers are hanging glaciers, but the Portage Glacier is a valley glacier that comes all the way down to the water. In the picture above you’ll see the Burns Glacier and the Shakespeare Glacier.


We saw several big chunks of ice floating in the lake. We didn’t get to see the Portage Glacier up close. You have to take a boat to get there.


The boys had to see how cold the water in the lake was. It was cold and someone may or may not have been splashed…


We were a little disappointed with the visitor center. It was a little…lacking. There was a small museum you could pay to go through which we thought was kind of odd. So far, we haven’t had to pay to go through a visitor center. We passed on it and headed outside for a hike to the Byron Glacier.


Byron Glacier was beautiful. We stopped at the end of the trail, but you could venture closer. We thought about it, but The Harding Icefield Trail was still too fresh in our minds (and muscles) for anyone to really want to try and climb closer.


So we sat on the bench and enjoyed the view and watched as other suckers  people tried to scramble up the moraines to get as close to the ice as they could.

IMGP4459We turned to leave and got another beautiful view. It’s funny how on a hike you can be so single minded….you’re only thinking about getting to the end of the trail and seeing what’s in front of you. I don’t know how many times we turn around and are just amazed at what’s behind us too. We’ve gotten into the habit of hiking for a bit then stopping and turning around to really take in the surroundings before moving on.


We stopped at a little turn out along the road to our next stop and found this little gem of a pond. You’ll see Explorer Glacier in the picture above. The water was that wonderful turquoise color and was as smooth as glass.

Our next stop was the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center! I had been looking forward to this stop for awhile. The AWCC takes in injured and orphaned animals and works to rehabilitate them so they can be released back into the wild. It’s never their intention to keep the animals for the expanse of the animals life. For those animals that can’t be released back into the wild, the AWCC works closely with several facilities in the lower 48 to find homes.


All of the enclosures were huge and not crowded. I feel like the animals here are well cared for. The moose in the picture above is scheduled to be released next year.


On all of the enclosures there was the story of the animal. Why it was there, if it would be released… This porcupine was munching on his dinner.


This big elk was cracking us up! He was snoring! All of the females were awake and watching while this lazy guy was just sawing logs.


We walked back by later and the whole herd was up munching. Mr. Snoring Guy watched us walk by like he knew we’d been laughing at him earlier.


These two baby elk were having some fun.


There were a few orphaned, Sitka black-tailed fawns. They were pretty skittish and stayed away from the front of the enclosure.


The black bear was huge! He’d just had dinner was out prowling around. The bear enclosure was the biggest there…almost 19 acres. There is a boardwalk that takes you up and over a part of it so you can see the whole enclosure. There was a brown bear enclosure too, but she was hiding. It was a hot day for the animals so I’m pretty sure she was in the shade somewhere.


This guy wasn’t part of the AWCC, but I thought he was too pretty not to include in the post. He was scavenging in the black bear enclosure.


The elk herds were kept in separate enclosures. The AWCC rotate the enclosures for the grazing animals. There was a field that was empty that is worked into the mix.


At the back of the park is a boardwalk that lets you see the Turnagain Arm. We were there at low tide so we got to see the mud flats. The mud flats are very dangerous. The mixture of the glacier silt and water makes for quick sand. People go out and get stuck and when the tide comes back in…well…it’s not good. Starting in Anchorage, we were warned against going out on the mud flats. The tide here is a 20 to 30 foot tide and many people every year foolishly think they won’t get stuck.


We had no desire to set foot on the mud flats. They were really cool to see though!


There were four huge enclosures for the wood bison. All scheduled for release later this year. We saw quite a few of these big beasts out in the wild on our way to Alaska.


Meet Chena the Lynx! Isn’t he gorgeous!! He and his brother Venetie have been at the AWC since they were young kittens and won’t be released because they don’t have the hunting skills to survive.


There was also a small caribou herd. We’ve been looking for caribou out in the wild, but so far we haven’t seen them. There have been a few places a herd was rumored to graze, but they weren’t there when we were.

We enjoyed the AWCC more than the Alaska Zoo. If you have to choose just one…I would suggest the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

See y’all on the road!


3 Responses to Portage Valley, AK

  1. Boyink

    Nice photos!

  2. Becky Simpson

    So many wonderful things to see, glad you were warned about the mud flats. Don’t fool with Mother Nature….

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