Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Turnagain Arm from Glacier Bowl , Alyeska ski resort

July 1 - Girdwood, AK - camped out in Alyeska Ski Resort Day lot - Daisies by the thousands cover the bank adjacent to our camping spot.  We are nestled in at the edge of Girdwood, a small community on the Alyeska highway off the Seward Highway which ruins along the length of the Turnagain Arm. As is typical, the clouds which built during the day have cleared mostly off, and we are enjoying bright sun and dropping winds while we eat dinner no relax for the evening.  

The tide in these parts is massive, almost 30 feet, and the entire bay empties out into the Gulf of Alaska a twice a day.  At this part, about halfway in, the arm is well over 5 miles  across, but at low tide only a few threads of water remain visible across the entire mud flat.  When the tide comes in on a full moon, it's called a Bore tide, and a wave almost 6 feet tall sweeps into the arm, pushing all manner of debris before it.  The roar, and power of the Phenomena is well known, and respected, and very good fodder for fishing tall tales based in the size fish riding In with the surge. 

We spent the day hiking a Alyeska ski resort.  I recommend hiking up to the top of the resort from the hotel, about 2 hours, then grabbing a sandwich from the cafe up there, and riding the cable car down. The ride down is free. The ride up costs $25.  This resort is compact by some standards. With three primary lifts, but the terrain is epic, with steep,chutes and slopes looming well above the highest lift which are "hike to" terrain.  To control avalanches , the ski patrol has strung a series of immensely long fixed cables which traverse just in front of some of the biggest cliffs , which they use to run trollies down loaded with explosives.  Avalanch control often takes until past 11 to get completed, but with the short daylight in winter, the slopes could not open too much earlier this this anyway.

The views from up top are exceptional, with the massive Turnagain arm in one direction, and the Chugash mountains around on all the other sides.  While riding the tram we saw a mother moose and her child nibbling on greens at the edge of a run.  There is plenty of hiking here in the summer, as well as the Alaska Railroad with whistle stops all along the arm all the way to Whittier offering access to trail heads along its route.

We are dry camped in the day lodge parking lot for $10, a great value and quite pleasant as compared to the far more expensive place we stayed in downtown Anchorage yesterday , adjacent to the train tracks with frequent heavy train traffic , and crammed full of other travelers trying to put a day in anchorage on their itinerary.  We used the laundry, and showers, filled water tanks and dumped our sewage, but otherwise, I would avoid this downtown campsite at ship creek if possible. The bike path along the Anchorage water front is 10 miles one way and  is very nice, and there are a few convenient bike rental places right downtown. We saw no Moose there, but were told is is a very common occurrence. The wind off the Bay is broken by a dense copse of trees, with frequent viewing spots carved out for the traveler. 

No comments: