Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Off To Portage Pass Trail

With Tony Hopfinger free on bail  and my audio/visual of the Joe Miller's East German border comments posted AND the sun showing through the window, we thought we should get out of town a bit.  We heard through family connections of a great spot - a place we'd never been or even knew about, so we headed south down the Seward Highway toward Portage.  We'd checked on the tunnel schedule (to Whittier on the half hour and back on the hour, with a 15 minute window in each direction.) 

We headed down the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm.

Then the cutoff to Portage Glacier.

Getting near the tunnel to Whittier and there's still plenty of blue sky.

Portage Pass Trailhead

As you come out of the tunnel toward 'downtown' Whittier, there's a road to your right at the end of the airport runway (on your left).  That goes to the trailhead.

We encountered some berry colored bear scat right away.

It's a 750 foot climb.  Not a lot compared to a lot of the hikes in Southcentral.  But it pretty much just keeps going up.  I figure that's like climbing 75 stories.  But the view of Prince William Sound got better and better, even on this now, mostly cloudy day.

Now we're almost at the viewpoint.

There were three guys and two dogs there ahead of us.

Here's the view from the viewpoint.  And the photo is pretty lame.  Between the clouds, the white of the glacier, and shooting into the sun, it was hard to get decent lighting.  The view was spectacular.  And what you see is not what you see from the visitors' center.  This part of the glacier is still down in the water.

 Here we are, trying the rocks out.

And then back down.  You can also hike down to 
the lake in the picture, but we came back.  

Beautiful Downtown Whittier.  Is this where Nixon went to school?

We got back to the tunnel just in time for the 4 o'clock opening.  According to the Department of Transportation, this is the longest Railroad/Highway tunnel in North America.

Then back on the road headed north to Anchorage.

We passed several sets of swans before we got home.


  1. Thanks for the Turnagain tour and the Whittier walk. This is the first year in the last decade I haven't flown up to Alaska to visit my son in Anchorage and his kids. (Of course, fishing wasn't far from my mind.) But my wife and I did the tunnel when we were there a few years ago - I wish we'd known about this hike with its better view of the glacier ... maybe 2011, when we're already booked at one of the hotels in Denali.

  2. Thank you so much for the beautiful photos... for someone stuck mostly inside recovering from major back surgery, and learning how to walk again, the post is a lovely vicarious trek on a gorgeous fall day. Did you see any birds besides the swans?? Thanks again, cs.

  3. We were by the tunnel, but we didn´t arrive. We were taking pictures in a wonderful wonderful lake around there. It´s fabulous seeing your photos and, at this moment, my mind is in Alaska again...

  4. Albert, CS, Tomás, glad to know some folks got to get out a bit via the photos. Albert, I changed the link font a bit - making it a little darker, but now people might not be able to distinguish it from the other words. I need to look at my options again.

    CS - not a lot of birds, though we saw an eagle, but the picture wasn't good enough to post. We need to come by and see you soon.

    Tomás, hello to your family.


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