Author Topic: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips  (Read 34481 times)

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #140 on: November 24, 2021, 12:17:01 PM »
Cool, I guess it's still more efficient/cheaper/environmentally friendly to have that setup than a road.

Of course.

That track was laid decades before any road in the area. There's a telegraph line running alongside it lol (at least the poles are).
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Offline Yehoshua

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #141 on: November 24, 2021, 12:28:38 PM »
Of course.

That track was laid decades before any road in the area. There's a telegraph line running alongside it lol (at least the poles are).
Lol, that's funny. Just in case anyone has means of receiving a telegraph in 2021, though it's pretty cool that they set up those lines back in the day.

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #142 on: November 24, 2021, 12:35:38 PM »
Just looked it up. The railway and telegraph line was built in 1905, and the only road in the area was done in 1951.
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Offline yelped

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #143 on: November 24, 2021, 01:31:46 PM »
Roads also degrade much faster than train tracks in harsh weather.

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #144 on: December 07, 2021, 11:08:56 PM »
Trip 4, August



Part 1

Two weeks after finishing the big group I was back in Alaska, this time with a small private family group. We landed in Anchorage Sunday night, and headed to Girdwood for the night.

Monday morning found us at the Girdwood railroad station, en route to Spencer Glacier. Unlike last time, we were going kayaking now. That is, everyone but me - I was a couple inches too big and a couple dozen pounds too heavy, si I was going to follow the kayakers by raft instead. Honestly I didn't mind; while I enjoy kayaking, I'd sooner relax on a raft and take pictures.

Off we go on the stunning Alaska Railroad - while the weather was quite dreary, Alaska never disappoints:









Once at the Spencer whistle stop, we boarded the rickety old bus for the short but beautiful ride to the lake:







The kayaking starts at the opposite side of the lake from the glacier. The lake looked spectacular today - calm, silent, and covered in a soft mist:





Getting closer to the icebergs:





Absolutely spectacular:





Here comes the glacier:





Crazy ice formations:





We got to shore right next to the glacier and climbed out, to find a tiny little ermine watching us:





As soon as we got closer, he went totally berserk:





I looked up this behavior afterwards and found that ermine (and the related weasels and stoats) are known for this "war dance", which they use to put their potential prey into a trance before killing them. So as it turns out this cute little guys was actually trying to eat me.

Honestly you gotta admire his audacity, considering I'm something like 500 times his size.

Into the kayak:







Short hike to get a good view of the glacier:





Check out that ice dam:



Heading back in the kayak, some people got tired so we towed them with the raft:



Instead of returning to Girdwood right away, we took the train deeper into the wilderness:





Tried taking a picture of a river we crossed and someone bumped my arm. #artsyfartsy:





We got off the train at the Grandview stop, which had a nice platform and a short hiking trail and... nothing else. The trail was a complete nothing burger, unless you count the semi-decent view of the train it offered:



Apparently the state is working on a massive trail system here that'll connect to some interesting spots, but for now there's nothing really to see here. It's really all about the journey and not the destination at this point.

Some shots of the locomotive:





Zipties truly are the solution for world peace:



And with that it was back to Girdwood for us:









So the big cruise question in Alaska is whether to choose Whittier or Seward. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages, but in the end it boils down to the fact that Whittier has better weather and calmer seas, while Seward has nicer landscapes and more wildlife.

On the first two trips this summer I went to Whittier, but today we were off to Seward. The boat hadn't even left the dock before the wildlife show started with a sea otter having a crab breakfast:





Seward sits at the head of Resurrection Bay, and the views were spectacular as we sailed out:





Horned puffins:





Humpback whale:



Three Hole Point:



Rounding the tip of the peninsula and entering Kenai Fjords National Park:





Approaching Aialik Glacier:







Tons of seals hanging out on the ice floes:







Calving icebergs:



After hanging around the glacier for a while it was time to head back:



More otters:





Tufted puffin:





Horned puffin:



Alaskan giraffe:



Stellar sea lions:





More amazing mountains:





Very strange rainbow:



And finally, this insanity:



This is the superyacht Lonian owned by Lorenzo Fertitta, the CEO of UFC. It only costs a measly 160 million bucks, not to shabby.

And that other yacht on the right? No big deal, just his toy tender! It carries a mere 9 jet skies, 4 ATVs, 4 motorcycles, 2 dune buggies, a RIB boat, a couple of speed boats, a helicopter, and - why the heck not - a submarine.



To be continued...
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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #145 on: December 07, 2021, 11:17:32 PM »
That bus sounds like Yankel's yarmulka cart
Feelings don't care about your facts

Offline Dawie

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #146 on: December 08, 2021, 09:42:58 AM »
did you show the ermine your striemel?

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #147 on: December 08, 2021, 11:57:36 AM »
did you show the ermine your striemel?

Yes, that's probably why he wanted to eat me.
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Offline Yehoshua

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #148 on: December 08, 2021, 01:37:39 PM »
Wow, when I went on the same boating trip you did in Seward (Resurrection Bay), the waves were so high they almost cancelled the trip. It was so nauseating most people including myself were throwing up the whole time, all due to that all section between the two bays that's on the open ocean.

Thanks for sharing!

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #149 on: December 08, 2021, 01:40:51 PM »
Yes, that's probably why he wanted to eat me.
How did you fend him off? Talk about the amount of chutzpa required to jump right into the boat of a giant. Ever saw BBC Life series how a little stoat takes down a huge Rabbit? They are ferocious.

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #150 on: December 12, 2021, 09:06:10 PM »
Working on the last segment here and getting serious flashbacks. Way too many epic bear pictures.

Finally got them down to under 300. Way too many pictures I love gaaaaaaaaAAAAAAhhhhhhh



I think for the next segment I'll just post a giant bear dump dump of bear pics and call it a day >:(.
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #151 on: December 16, 2021, 11:49:15 PM »
Trip 4, August



Part 2

After overnighting in Seward after the cruise, the plan was to drive to our house in Soldotna, drop our stuff off, and head for bear watching in Lake Clark National Park.

Early morning in Seward:



Glaucous-winged gull:



Washed-up jellyfish:



One of the typical random weirdness that makes small Alaskan towns so much fun:



Onto the Seward Highway, heading north:



No fish guts!



We were only driving a short while when my phone rang - the bear guys called to let me know that our trip to Lake Clark has been canceled due to bad weather on the mountain passes. Phone service was terrible, and internet nonexistent, but I managed to get it rescheduled for tomorrow before we got cut off.

But what about today? We couldn't just swap tomorrow's activity in, as that would add about nine hours of driving and made absolutely no sense.

B"H for my familiarity with Alaska... Within 10 minutes I had a different epic plan for the day, and tomorrow's activity canceled at no cost - all without a speck of internet service.

And so instead of taking the turnoff to Soldotna, we continued north on the Seward Highway all the way to Girdwood. Checked in with Alpine Air helicopters, got a "you again?!" from the pilot, and off we went:



The rain was coming down in buckets, but like I said a million times before: that just doesn't get in the way of Alaska. I had enough experience to know that the excursion will be incredible.... and as a verification, Alpine Air has a webcam installed at our final destination for the day and they confirmed my hunch: the weather there was perfect.

Not much to see right after takeoff, what with the raindrops running up the cockpit windows:



As we got deeper (and higher) into the mountains, the weather began clearing up and we spotted a black bear family on the cliffs:



Goldfish!



A faint rainbow in the distance beckoning us to our goal:





There it was, spread out beneath us: Colony Glacier.

The truth is that at this point I've seen - and been on - so many glaciers that I've lost count a long time ago. In Alaska alone I've stood on at least six and seen dozens more. And once you include the literally hundreds I've seen, climbed, snowmobiled on, or camped on in the U.S and Canadian Rockies, Iceland, Switzerland, Svalbard, Patagonia, and of course Antarctica, you'd think I'd be sick of ice.

But the fact is than no two glaciers are the same. They each have their unique personality, if you will - and they all look vastly different. What struck me about Colony Glacier were the immense ice pinnacles and fins that stretched of for mile after mile; that's a feature I had never seen, let alone flown over at an just a couple of feet. It literally took my breath away:







From higher up they look like frozen waves:





I still get goosebumps every time I watch this short clip of us coming in for the landing. Maybe you will too, or maybe you won't - I've been credibly accused of waxing a bit too poetic sometimes. But have a look at 1080p, full screen, and tell me if I'm being melodramatic or not:



You'll notice that we're circling; we were going to land on the ice, and the pilot needed to find a relatively flat area. You can't exactly land a helicopter on those fins.

Made it!



Absolutely stunning:











We spent about 15 minutes on the ice exploring and taking pictures before it was time to leave. As we were getting belted in, the pilot got a call on the radio that bad weather was moving in and we should leave ASAP. Talk about perfect timing.

Liftoff:



Those colors!



As you can see above, it was pouring between the mountains and it was heading rapidly for us.



The face of the glacier as it hits Inner Lake George:



Amazing mountain views once more:





Coming in high over Lake George Glacier:





...and then circling straight down to check out this incredible phenomenon:



Gigantic, bright blue blocks of ice had broken off from the glacier - but instead of falling into the water like is more common, they just sat there on land, contrasting spectacularly with the black soil. But the sheer size of it all! Each block was as tall as an apartment building - simply incredible.

A picture cannot possibly capture the scale, so here's a terrible Photoshop to give you a better idea:



A bit further on we came across an even bigger scar:







Leaving the ice behind:



Approaching the airport, we spotted a t-rex:



Landed in Girdwood safely, and turned around towards the Kenai Peninsula once more, and our original destination of Soldotna.



Eagle alert:



In Alaska you don't even stop for such a view, that's how spoiled you get. But there were bathrooms here, so...



Found a slamon:





Not a bad place to live:



We got to Soldotna, settled in, had a giant dinner, and that was another awesome day in the bag.



Thursday morning we woke up to a couple of moose grazing in our backyard, but the mother was skittish and took off with her calf as soon as she spotted us. Oh well.

It was a 5-minute drive to our outfitter's base on Mackeys Lakes (yes, plural... don't ask me why), and so it wasn't long before our little floatplane was crossing the coast and heading over the Cook Inlet:



Heading straight into the mountains of the Alaska Peninsula towards Lake Clark National Park:



As we approached Crescent Lake and dropped in altitude, the crazy colors of the lake's water were visible in its outlet rivers:



You know you're in for an awesome day when you haven't even landed yet and you can see grizzlies:



(He's on the lower right, if you missed it.)

There's the lake:



Landing zone:



Company:



Approaching:



Touchdown:



Here's the entire landing:



Back in my happy place:



The lake's colors never cease to amaze me:



And the bears! So many bears, and so close to you that your lens often can't even focus on them:





Chinuch:



Look at that little monster:



On land and in the water, we were just surrounded - no other word for it:







And the views... simply mind-blowing:







I don't think there was any point in the four or so hours we spent on the lake in which we didn't see at least one bear:





Awwwwww:



Less awwwww:



Two short clips just showing the general vibe of the lake:





Bald eagle:



Tundra swan:



We decided to have lunch on shore - not an easy feat when there are dozens of grizzlies around. So after finding a seemingly-empty beach, we made a giant racket to announce our presence to anyone who might be lurking in the bush, and happily had our lunch.

Lunch view:



And as soon as we got back in the boat......:



They had been right behind us the entire time, patiently waiting for us to leave. Just goes to show, once again, that there is a proper and safe way of behaving in bear country. The bears are not interested in a confrontation with you either. (Tatty, if you're reading this - this is for you. I'm still alive.)





My type of guy - he lay down and refused to move, no matter how much his mother and siblings prodded him:



Eventually she did what all mothers do and walked away. The kid got up and ran after her like crazy.

Awesome experience:







One of my favorite pictures of all time:



Unusual light and dark bear:







Belted kingfisher:



Bunch of salmon:

























Look who's back! Time to go...







Whole new meaning to exit row seat:



Up, up, and away:



One last view of the lake:



Redoubt volcano is once again hidden in the clouds:



Landed in Soldotna, drove back to Anchorage, and home we went.



And thus my summer of Alaska, and the fourth trip of 2020, came to a close.

THE END
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Offline Yehoshua

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #152 on: December 17, 2021, 02:17:18 AM »
wonderful job writing and amazing pictures! Thank you so much for sharing.

Offline VacationLover

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #153 on: December 19, 2021, 05:31:24 PM »
Thank you! What an amazing report(s)

Online EliJelly

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #154 on: December 19, 2021, 08:14:03 PM »
These TRs totally changed my perspective on Alaska, and I'm sure for others too. What I used to imagine as a vast frozen dead wilderness has now become one of the nicest places on Earth, and bustling with life.

Offline tov hashem

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #155 on: December 19, 2021, 09:02:09 PM »
⬅️Thanks something FISHY!
« Last Edit: December 19, 2021, 09:05:42 PM by tov hashem »

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #156 on: December 19, 2021, 09:12:59 PM »
⬅️Thanks something FISHY!

Nice! Now please PM your mailing address for the cease and desist ;D
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Offline YitzyS

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #157 on: December 19, 2021, 09:14:27 PM »
These TRs totally changed my perspective on "The Call of the Wild", and I'm sure for others too. What I used to imagine as an animal centric Jack London novel about a sled-toting husky has now become associated with TRs of the nicest places on Earth, and bustling with life.
FTFM

Offline Dan

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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #158 on: December 19, 2021, 09:42:45 PM »
These TRs totally changed my perspective on Alaska, and I'm sure for others too. What I used to imagine as a vast frozen dead wilderness has now become one of the nicest places on Earth, and bustling with life.
Having been to Svalbard and Antarctica, I can assure you there is no such thing as a vast frozen dead wilderness.
Well, except Siberia, I'd imagine :D
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Re: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #159 on: December 19, 2021, 09:43:23 PM »
Fantastic TR, now where's the Lofoten Islands TR: Chasing the Northern Lights, from ┼ to Bod°. ;D
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