Friday, September 8, 2017

Haines to Anchorage, Alaska: September 6-8, 2017


Wednesday September 6, we were on the road again this time headed for Tok, Alaska. We had hoped to find a place to stay that wasn’t such a long distance from our start, but there were no vacancies until Tok. It was a very long day. The distance between Haines and Tok is 438 miles.

There was so much stunning scenery that our drive took even longer. One dramatic sight at Kluane Lake in the Yukon was created by the retreating/shrinking of the Kaskawulsh Glacier. Until Spring 2016, this glacier sent its meltwater to the Slims River which flowed into Kluane Lake. With its retreat, the meltwater is now being captured (river piracy) by another river and Slims River is dry.


Remains of Kluane Lake
From miles off we saw what we assumed was mist rising from the river. It wasn’t. The water level has fallen in Kluane Lake. Exposed lakebed is dry and cracked and a constant wind blows the sedimentary dust.

Other than eagles, trumpeter swans, and a couple of black bears we haven’t seen much wildlife today except as it is pictured on the road signs warning us that bears, moose, caribou, sheep are in the area. The landscape has been stunning.

Panorama View of Pickhandle Lakes and the Kluane Range


The mountainsides along the Alaska Highway and the Glenn Highway were brilliant yellow with aspens and other deciduous trees in high color. After the long day of getting to Tok, we decided to cut the eight-hour drive to Anchorage into two parts.

Mt. Sanford in the Wrangell Mountains
On Thursday, September 7, we drove about 200 miles to stay at beautiful Lake Louise in Glenallen. We arrived early enough that we hoped to do a little hiking. Unfortunately, it is moose/caribou hunting season and we were warned to stay out of the woods. We relaxed with a view of the lake instead.

Our view of Lake Louise, Alaska
The bartender told us that the night before he saw the northern lights. We set our alarm for 1am, got dressed, and went outside prepared to be in awe. Nothing. There was a slight veil of clouds and just past a recent full moon. About 3am our lodge neighbor knocked on our door and said the northern lights were showing themselves. We dressed and went outside and sure enough northern lights. They were a little faint because of the moon and the cloud veil, but we still saw them. Hoping for another chance around Denali.

Early yesterday morning as we drove away from Lake Louise, we finally saw a moose. Unfortunately, this one belonged to 3 hunters who were getting his huge carcass loaded onto a trailer. Hopefully we’ll see one of these big guys in a more lively state of being.

Just another small, beautiful body of water near Lake Louise, Alaska
Continuing on the Glenn Highway headed to Anchorage we photographed and took a short hike near the Matanuska Glacier.


Further down the road near Palmer we stopped at a Musk Ox Farm and took their tour. The musk oxen live the good life complete with meals and occasional back scratches on this farm. Qiviut (good Scrabble word) is harvested by combing through the musk ox’s coat. The tool used to harvest the qiviut is an afro pick. Workers also walk through the pastures to recover any qiviut that has fallen out on its own. The qiviut is spun into the softest, hypoallergenic yarn that is both lighter and warmer than sheep’s wool. Another quality is that it will not shrink at any temperature and can be washed.


We were allowed to feed tree branches to a group of baby musk oxen. Too cute!


Our Anchorage stay was a relaxing break from driving. We met up with my cousin Parker and his wife Kit for lunch and then tagged along with Parker for a work appointment he had just south of Anchorage around Girdwood in the Turnagain Arm.

Tomorrow we head to Talkeetna for the night and then onto Healy to visit Denali.

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