We got up early today, ate breakfast in the RV and took off in the Subaru for Whittier. It is about an hour and half drive to the tunnel, and we wanted to make sure we made the 10:30AM group through it. For those unfamiliar with the tunnel, it was built as part of the war effort in WW II in case Alaska needed an alternate supply route. The tunnel is wide/high enough for a single train car, with tracks down the middle. Cars and trains share the tunnel, each with designated times. Cars/trucks/RVs departing Whittier leave on the hour, and those heading to Whittier leave on the half hour.
Along the way we spotted two small herds of mountain goats that live on the cliff south of Anchorage. We were in a hurry, knowing missing the 10:30 tunnel meant an hour delay, so we didn't stop for photos. Our haste was based on the need to check in for a 12:30 PM sailing on the 26 Glaciers Tour on Prince William Sound.
The boat ride lasts about 5 hours. It covers around 140 miles of water, and visits 26 glaciers, and other points of interest. The boat has a ranger from the Chugach National Forest on board to explain the sights, history, spot wild life, and even conduct a Junior Ranger program for the kiddies. The trip includes lunch, and a late afternoon snack (cookie).
While on the boat we saw a Humpback Whale, Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Sea Otters, and perhaps 10,000 Black-legged Kittiwakes (birds) in a rookery. The Sea Lions were basking on an island, the Seals were hauled out onto ice flows, and the Sea Lions were just floating around eating, or diving for food. The Eagles were all sitting in trees, until we approached, then they took wing. The whale spouted, and then came up for air and then dived, showing us a great view of its back, dorsal fin, and a tail slap.
The glaciers are of several different types,based on how they fit the landscape. Tidal glaciers come right down to the water's edge. The Surprise Glacier was phenomenal. There were significant ice flows from the glacier, many with Harbor Seals on them. There are many non-tidal glaciers that the geologists have categorized, but the types escape me. Needless to say, they all result in creeks, and waterfalls below them. Many of these waterfalls would be named, if not for the large, named mass of ice that created them. Some of these waterfalls rival those in places like Yosemite.
All in all, we perceived the money spent for the boat tour to be an excellent expenditure.
Returning to Anchorage was quite a chore. Five hours on a boat can be tiring. We managed to locate one of the two mountain goat habitats, and got a few photos. I also snapped a couple of pictures of the salmon fishermen on a creek we crossed over.
Today's photo is of the Surprise Glacier.