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  • Writer's pictureUrsula

Anchorage to Calgary 22.7.-21.8.22

We say goodbye to Anchorage and drive on a beautiful route to Seward. There we immediately go on a hike guided by the park ranger to the viewpoint of the Exit Glacier, which is one of 40 glacier tongues of the Harding Icefield. On the way there are always annual markers, which show us how frighteningly strong the glacier has retreated over the years.

For the next day we have booked an eight-hour boat trip into the fjords of Kenai National Park. The park has the largest contiguous ice surface in North America. Unfortunately, the weather is not very nice and the sea is partly quite rough. But we are lucky and can watch a group of humpback whales hunting. There are maybe 10 animals which drive the fish in circles to the surface (so-called bubble-net fishing), which is also a 'free' feast for the many seagulls. This event is rare to observe and we can enjoy it for almost an hour.

On the way, sea lions, sea otters and the cute puffins show up. We sail through ice floes, on which seals lie, close to the impressive Northwestern Glacier.

On the way back we observe a juvenile humpback whale frolicking. The captain is at least as enthusiastic about this extraordinary day as we are.

In Seward we visit the Alaskan Sealife Aquarium, where we can observe the marine animals and birds of Alaska up close.

Afterwards we drive back over Moose Pass towards Homer to the Russian River Fall. The way leads 4 km on foot through bear territory to the fall where the salmon try to overcome the obstacle. Luckily a mother bear with her three cubs is not far away. While the mother catches some salmon, the cubs romp around in the water and on the shore.

The journey continues in stormy rainy weather to Whittier, which is reached via a single-lane tunnel that is open to trains or cars every hour.

From Whittier we take the ferry to Valdez. Loading and unloading is an hour-long process each time, making the most of the loading area. The travel time is almost 6 hours and takes us through Prince William Sound, enjoying a free wildlife tour if we are lucky. In Valdez we continue the next day to the Wrangell-St.Elias N.P. The national park is 1.3 times bigger than Switzerland and consists of mountains and glaciers. The weather is getting nicer and nicer and we enjoy the lonely drive to our 'Wrangell Mountain' Lodge, which is run with a lot of heart and soul. There are 4 log cabins, which are very tastefully decorated and a 'cook house' where you can find everything to prepare a dinner. From the lodge it is 50 km to Mccarthy, on the way illegible road signs, which were victims of shooting maniacs.

From Mccarthy we make some undertakings:

A visit to the old copper mine with the ghost town, which is now used for tourism.

A short hike through the forest and into the valley where you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the Root Glacier.

The highlight is an hour-long sightseeing flight over the impressive glacier landscape.

The drive now takes us around Wrangell Park, again through a beautiful landscape of forests, lakes and mountains, to the east side to Haines Junction, where we take a short break and then continue to Haines.

In Haines we look for salmon-catching bears at the Chilkoot River, unfortunately without success, and continue to Chilkat State Park on the small peninsula with a view of a hanging glacier with waterfall. The only restaurant that is open is completely booked, so we have chicken nuggets in the only bar in the village.

We take the ferry across the beautiful fjord to Juneau. The capital of Alaska can only be reached by boat or plane. A walk through the pretty touristy old town must not be missed and we enjoy the more extensive food offer.

We make a trip to the northern end at Echo Cove of the only 50 km long nowhere road. On the way we visit a small chapel, nicely situated on a peninsula and a small flower garden.

On the way back we stop at Juneau's house glacier, the imposing Mendenhall Glacier.

This weekend the Iron Man competition takes place in Juneau, which means that all accommodations are booked out for months. Therefore, we fly to Gustavus for 3 days in the Glacier Bay National Park. There we go on an eight hour boat trip into the fjords of Glacier Bay. Despite the cloudy weather we can enjoy the passing landscape and see whales, sea lions, otters, puffins and mountain goats.

At the very end of the trip, the Margerie Glacier appears, which shimmers beautifully blue despite very cloudy skies, and on the return trip we marvel at the Lamplugh Glacier. Impressive: Only 250 years ago the whole Glacier Bay was still covered with ice.

From the lodge there are some hiking trails through the fabulously beautiful young rainforest. We take part in a guided hike with the ranger and hear for the umpteenth time how the glaciers are formed and how they have retreated. On the way we are lucky and can watch a moose feeding, which even swims a part of its way.

Towards evening the flight goes back to Juneau followed by dinner at the best restaurant, the 'Salt', where we can highly recommend the filet mignon.

After a short night we check in at 5am for the ferry to Skagway. In Skagway we immediately continue over the impressive, now snow-free White Pass, with many lakes situated in a rocky, barren area.

In the evening we arrive tired at our nice cottage near Tagish, Marsh Lake. On the way there is only one small store, which offers mainly canned food. That means we drive 80 km to Whitehorse the next day to find something to eat for the next 3 days. On the way to Atlin we make a small detour and visit the picturesque Carcross.

Nearby is the world's smallest desert, the Carcross Desert, and Emerald Lake, turquoise blue on a clear day.

On the way to Atlin, a stop at the reflecting, not small 'Little Atlin' lake is worthwhile.

A little outside the beautiful lake village of Atlin we move into our apartment with an enchanting view. We stroll through the pretty village and make a small excursion to the 'Warm Springs', an algae pond that is slightly warmer than the lake. Otherwise, there is not much to do here without a boat or seaplane, except kayaking or fishing.

Now we have a good 1000 km long distance to Stewart to master, which we interrupt in Watson Lake for one night. Here we have time to take some more pictures of the huge sign forest.

The long stretch to Stewart on the Cassiar Hwy is very varied and runs through increasingly narrow valleys. We visit Boya Lake, which is dotted with islands, and of course discover another glacier.

In Stewart we stay at the Historic Bayview Hotel, which is located right in the center. During the gold, silver and copper rush, the town once had 10,000 inhabitants. Today, a few hundred people still live here and the town is becoming more and more of a ghost town. Many stores are closed, for rent or for sale. The pizzeria closes today forever, so only two restaurants remain, although the Mexican offers really good food.

But it is always worth to drive to Stewart, especially because of the interesting excursion across the border to Alaska. After two kilometers you come across the open border to Hyder. This place is even more deserted than Stewart. At least we get to eat here at the food truck fish and chips, after in Stewart also the breakfast pub has closed.

A few kilometers after Hyder we visit the first highlight: Fish Creek, where hundreds of salmon spawn in the shallow stream at this time of year. We are lucky and soon the first grizzly appears and enjoys the salmon buffet. He catches one fish, leaves it, takes the next one, eats only the spawn and grabs the next one. The feast lasts an hour and then it is quiet again at Fish Creek. A unique spectacle, which you can enjoy from close up from a jetty.

We continue to the Salmon glacier, which can be admired from the opposite side of the valley. This brings back memories of the Konkordiaplatz on the Aletsch glacier.

On the way back, again to Fish Creek, where immediately again a grizzly appears. We are lucky, other visitors needed 3 days to finally see a bear.

Today we take a not too exciting route to Smithers. On the way we visit the fish ladder near Meziadin Junction and watch the fish trying to jump up the drop until they finally find the ladder on the side.

We make another stop in Gitanyow, a First Nation settlement, where we marvel at the many beautiful totem poles.

And we continue via Prince George to Clearwater in Wells Gray Provincial Park, nicknamed 'Canada's Waterfall Park' where there are over 40 named falls. The most famous is Helmcken Fall, beside it we visit the wide Dawson Fall, the also impressive Spahats Fall and as last the Moul Fall. This fall is reached after a 3 km hike. On the way back we suddenly meet a black bear at the same height about 5 m away, peacefully eating. My pulse skyrockets and we are glad that he does not bother us further.

Now it's on to Calgary, past the majestic Mount Robson and again via the impressive Icefield Parkway (located in Jasper and Banff N.P.) with its fantastic mountain panorama.

In Calgary we enjoy a two week break to take care of our pending business and to recover from the long journey: Since the beginning of May we have already covered 16'000 km.

At the beginning of September we continue via Yellowstone N.P. to Colorado and Mexico.

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