We left partially cloudy skies in Anchorage and headed down the Seward Highway. We had traveled the Seward as far as Girdwood and were really looking forward to this scenic drive. Just south of Girdwood we ran into heavy winds and heavy rain. The clouds were so thick I couldn't see the mountains.
We stayed at Williwa Campground, about 1 1/2 miles from the visitor center and close location to the popular Blue Ice Trail. Portage Valley is known for abundance of glaciers and beautiful scenery.
The visitor center is well worth visiting and is a very modern structure.
What on earth are Nancy and Bill doing? Would you believe looking for ice worms! Yes ice worms. Ice worms are extremely shy and very tiny. They look like a piece of black thread about 1/4-1/2 inch curled up. Apparently, the ice worms don't like the sun and are best found on a cloudy day...so the ranger said. She gave a short talk and then provided spoons and containers to find the worms, and was off. We never saw her again. We finally gave up...way too cold and rainy.
All the Forest Service signs in the area are blue with dark blue lettering which makes them a little hard to see sometimes. The blue is for the blue ice...ie glaciers and there is a very nice six mile trail from the visitor center that accommodates bicyclists and hikers. The trail ends (or starts) near the Seward Highway. There are loops with interpretive nature trails and lots of fish viewing areas.
There are lots of board walks and bridges which make for some great viewing of wild life and fish. I never saw a bear or fish, but I did see lots of scat indicating a lot of bear activity in the area.
One of the many waterfalls along the Blue Ice Trail.
We took a short side trip to Whittier, which is one of the ports on the Prince William Sound. The Whittier tunnel is a one way tunnel famous for accommodating both trains and vehicles. The train tracks are recessed and you drive over them into Whittier. Traffic is allowed one way on the hour every hour and then the other way on the half hour every hour and it costs $12.00. This is the only way to Whittier, unless you enter by boat from the sound. I found everything in Whittier really expensive. We had a fish plate for lunch..7oz of salmon, coleslaw, and fries...$18.95 at a small cafe. Hamburgers were $9.50. Just a little pricey.
We had planned to hike the short Portage Pass trail, but the weather was not cooperative. Rain...rain..rain. So we toured the town which consisted of several small gift shops and few cafes.
One of the few shops in Whittier. Usually, Jolie the Reindeer penned up, but today it was too rainy and cold for her so her owner didn't bring her.
Some great carvings of whales in the main town square.
Small boat harbor at Whittier
Prince William Sound
One of the water falls near Whittier. This one catches your attention while you are waiting in line to enter the Whittier Tunnel.
It rained the whole time we were in Portage and Whittier, which is a shame because the area is beautiful. We now head for Seward for a few days, hopefully ahead of the weekend crowds. I'm hoping we might have time to explore Portage again on our way back through Anchorage in a few weeks. .. if the sun is shinning.