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The Last Frontier Alaskan Photography Adventure Part 2

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

This year's Photography adventure was a nine-day trip in mid-June to The Last Frontier, Alaska. The 20 hours of daylight for this time of year made for more time to explore Alaska.

If you missed the first part of the Alaskan Adventure here it is - The Last Frontier Alaskan Photography Adventure

Day 5 (Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center)

The Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center is about an hour east of the Seward Highway. At the Wildlife Center, we could see all the animals of Alaska, especially all the ones we didn't see in the wild. The best part of the Wildlife Center is the Bears Boardwalk. The boardwalk divides the Black Bear and the Brown Bear enclosures allowing you to see both sides at the same time. The Boardwalk is raised, which allows for better viewing of the Brown bears 16-acre enclosure. Another well-thought-out feature for the bears was a channel linked to the bay. When the tide comes in, it allows for fish to swim in as well, giving the bears a chance to fish. But, of course, the bears were being fed while we were there and were in an area we couldn't see. So, we spend most of our time viewing the Bison with the three new calves. All in all, it takes about 1.5 hours to walk and see all the wildlife.

Day 6 (Portage Valley)

The weather in Alaska can change daily, clouds had rolled in and the chance of rain increased dropping the temperature from the 80s to the low 50s. This made it a little more challenging to get some good Landscape photos but, the trip must go on. We started the next adventure by exploring some glaciers in the Whitter area. The first stop was the Portage Valley which is about an hour from Anchorage. To view the Burns and Portage Glacier you need to take a boat tour. With boat tours, you don't get to touch or stand on the glaciers, but you are in luck in the Portage Valley. Not far from the Portage boat tour parking lot is the Byron Glacier hiking trail. The Byron Glacier is an easy 1.5-mile hike up to view the glacier and if you hike a little further you can actually stand on and touch the Glacier. Another Glacier in the area is the Spencer Glacier. For this one, you will need to take a short train ride to the trailhead and a seven-mile out and back steep hike. We didn't know the only access to the trail was via a train and didn't have enough time for this one. But we did get to go to the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center, which is right across from the train station.

Days 7 and 8 (Seward)

The drive to Seward Alaska is hands down one of the most beautiful drives in North America with endless snow-capped mountains and alpine lakes. As you pass the Kenai Welcome Sign on Highway 1 you start to gain elevation as you climb Turnagain Pass. At the Turnagain Pass summit, you will see numerous mountain ranges many of which still had snow in the middle of June. From this point, you will descend the rest of the way to Seward. Once you reach the small town of Moose Pass, you are almost to Seward. In the Moose Pass area, there are three large lakes each with great views of endless canyons and mountain ridges. The town of Seward is not large, with a population of 2800. It's mostly a fishing town, but during the summer months, it becomes a tourist town with cruise shipments stopping by on a regular basis. One of the popular tourist things to do is a Wildlife cruise in Resurrection Bay. We decided to take one of these all-day wildlife cruises that also stopped at a resort on Fox island for lunch. The tour starts in the Seward harbor and heads south down Resurrection Bay. On our way to Fox island, we didn't see any wildlife, but on the return, the captain takes the boat around the other side of Fox Island where we saw Seagulls, Puffins, Sea Lions, and Sea otters. For a short period, the boat is outside the protection of the bay and exposed more to the open ocean and swells. Here we came across Humpback Whales and Porpoises feeding in the mouth of the bay. On the return trip up the bay, we passed by the Bear Glacier and came across a herd of Mountain Goats with a new kid (calf) on the rocky shoreline. Last but not least during our return to the harbor a Bald Eagle clutching a mangled fish flew within feet of the boat.

North of town is the Herman Leirer Road, this road becomes Exit Glacier Road and leads to the Kenai Fjords National Park, home to the Harding Icefield, and the Exit Glacier which is at the end of the road. On your way into the park, you will notice signs with the year that the glacier was at that point. The first sign is dated from the mid-1800s. Does this mean global warming actually started over a hundred fifty years ago? (The NPS also has a map of Portage Lake showing the Glacier retreat from the same time period of mid-1800s) The Exit Glacier is also popular with tourists because of how close you can get to the Glacier. But it's a little deceiving how close you actually can get. The "paved" trail starts off from a large parking lot and then changes to a dirt trail that leads to the first Exit Glacier viewing spot. From here you can walk a little further to the second and last "official" view spot, which is about 1.25 miles from the parking lot. This is the point where most people stand for the glacier selfies but on the right side is a sign saying that it's not recommended to go beyond that point. Well, I took that as an invite and continued up and over the ridge and along a thin sporadic rock-covered trail for another quarter mile up the side of the mountain to the actual glacier where you can touch and walk on the crackling and popping mountain of ice.

Did you Know: The Harding Icefield is over 700 square miles of continuous ice spawning 40 glaciers. Like the Bear Glacier that we saw the other day 20 miles south

Days 9 (Anchorage)

This was our last day and had a red-eye flight home that night, and still haven't seen a moose in the wild so we decided to try a few of the local "moose hangouts" in Anchorage. The first place was the Far North Bicentennial Park in the northern part of Anchorage. It's a 4000-acre park with many trails to explore. We took the Rover's Run Trail to the Moose Meadow Trail and not one animal other than a friendly Robin catching bugs on the trail. The last chance for this trip to see a wild moose was at the western tip of Anchorage We started at the Earthquake Park and worked our way towards Point Woronzof Park. A local Moose viewing website had this location as a hot spot for moose. Nope, not a one. With the Moose search a bust we decided to finish the day buying souvenirs. Til next time Alaska.

With 900 miles of driving, 2.5 hours in a bush plane, 5 hours on a boat, over 30 miles of hiking, and hundreds of mosquito bites - The trip was Priceless

The photographs contained in this website may not be reproduced without the express consent of Shutter Bison.

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