Alaska – Kenai Peninsula

Alaska - Exit Glacier

So far on our Alaska adventure, we traveled by public transportation and doing a lot of walking. Now, we rented a car and drove down to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. The Kenai, about 150 miles (to Seward)  to 230 miles (to Homer) south of Anchorage, is supposed to be the warmest part of Alaska.

Alaska - Danny on Exit GlacierSeward is the gateway town to Kenai Fjords National Park. Now with a name that has Fjords in it, you’d think I would have figured out that there wasn’t much hiking to be done in this park. Sure enough, Kenai Fjords NP has less than 10 miles of trail. The most popular one takes you to Exit Glacier. In a two-mile round trip hike, you feel like you get pretty close to the glacier. But you really don’t – the glacier might be a good half-mile further. Before you enter the park, you pass signs like 1815, 1860 … That shows how much the glacier has retreated. 

Here I am above, freezing with the glacier in the background. I really wouldn’t want to get much closer. Many people also take a day cruise – some with a park ranger – in the fjords to see the wildlife. But I wasn’t setting foot on another boat for a long time.

Seward is also the gateway to Chugah National Forest,  a huge forest with many trails. A ranger in Anchorage recommended Lost Lake Trail and said that it was one of his favorites in the the Kenai. The trail is 14 miles round trip with only 1,875 ft. of ascent. But 14 miles? I could not imagine a ranger in the lower 48 recommending such a long hike to a visitor.

But he said it was his favorite and Tuesday, we walked it. The trail started in the boreal forest but soon climbed out into the open tundra. It started raining and the fog was setting in but the scenery was magnificent. The trail was lined with snow-covered mountains with lots of waterfalls. It was a designer hike and the easiest 14 miles I’ve done in a long time.

Alaska - Lost LakeThe lake was “lost”. Clear water but nothing around. We met a family who had camped by the lake and a couple of runners. A great way to almost end a vacation.

The last two days, we were in Homer on the other side of the bay. This artsy town attracts a lot of visitors. It may have been made famous by Tom Bodett, who did Motel 6 commercials. Like many Alaskans who were made famous by living in Alaska, Bodett no longer lives in Alaska.

We’ve left Alaska as well, arriving this morning in North Carolina on very little sleep. Now, it’s laundry, stocking up the frig and going through three weeks of mail, because on Monday, I go back to Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

 

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