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Kenai Peninsula


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* Our final adventure took us to the Kenai Peninsula for an overnight in Seward.

* The highway out of Anchorage follows the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet for a scenic drive.  Framed on one side by the Chugach Mountains, the extensive mud flats of Cook Inlet stretch for miles on the other side.  In the satellite photo on the right, the water must have been at low tide.  The quicksand-like mud flats are approximately 1000 feet deep, and authorities strongly discourage people from trying to walk on them.  

Map of Kenai Peninsula
* Cook Inlet has a fascinating phenomenon called a Bore Tide.  We were a few days to early to see a good demonstration of it; but basically the Turnagain Arm is so long that the outgoing tide doesn't have a chance to fully recede before the incoming tide resumes.  With diurnal tides of 30+ feet, the incoming tide creates a singular wall of water up to 6 feet high, which rushes up the inlet at 15+ mph.  Wouldn't that be exciting to see?

* But I digress.  Did I mention that all the Alaskans seem to own a lot of rain gear?  I'm beginning to see a pattern here.  While we enjoyed the flexibility of driving a car, going where we wanted to when we wanted to, we didn't get to see much of the scenery because it was raining so hard. 

* We stopped for two glaciers (plus bathrooms) enroute to Seward, got utterly soaked in the torrential rain, ate at Ray's on the waterfront (which was so awesome we went back for lunch the next day), spent the night, decided to forego a glacier/whale watching boat trip in the pouring rain, and returned to Anchorage for some bead shopping.  It was interesting and scenic - after all, how often can you walk up and touch a glacier (yes, it's cold)?

* Click here to see the Portage Glacier, Exit Glacier, or Seward.

* Bore Tide Link  
Portage Glacier  

* About an hour or so southeast of Anchorage, we stopped to see the Portage Glacier.  First we went to the lake launch for the Portage Glacier Tours.  I wanted photos (see the blue ice in the dark black misty rain below).  I put on all my gear and got out of the car.  The rain was blowing completely horizontally, with such force that it was difficult to open the car door.  (Mom asked if I'd be offended if she stayed in the car.  I wish I had thought to say I would be!)  A few quick photos, and we were on our way to the bathroom, oops - meant Visitor Center.

* Glaciers that reach the ocean are called tidewater glaciers; those that descend only partway down mountain slopes are called hanging glaciers.  Two hanging glaciers Explorer Glacier and Middle Glacier can be seen at the right during the six-mile drive to the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center beside Portage Lake.  

Map to Portage Glacier

* The Portage Glacier is in the Chugach National Forest.

* Portage Glacier has begun to recede from the shore of Portage Lake although much of its face still extends 100 feet down into the lake. It is most easily seen from a cruise boat on the lake. Burns Glacier, a hanging glacier just to the left of Portage Glacier, can be seen from the visitor center and is often mistaken for Portage Glacier.

* The Portage Glacier is 6 mi long, and is so named because it is on a portage route between Prince William Sound and Turnagain Arm.

Imagery of Portage Glacier

* Official web site (Chugach National Forest) * Begich-Boggs Visitor Center
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Portage Lake Rain
This should give you an idea what the weather looked like
Glacier Glacier
Explorer or Middle Glacier
Tunnel Waterfall
The Whittier Highway, viewed from the Boggs-Begich Visitor Center
Waterfall Portage Lake
Portage Lake and Burns Glacier
Portage Lake Portage Lakex
Portage Glacier Portage Glacier
Portage Glacier
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