We started the day at the Chugach Forest Visitor Center. We have never seen a “real” visitor center with the Forest Service. We hiked back to the Byron Glacier and walked on the ice field. After, we drove through the 2.5 mile tunnel towards Whittier. We hiked 750 feet up to Portage Pass, where the kids decided they were done hiking. Paul and I hiked another ½ mile down to Portage Lake where we had great views of Portage Glacier. You used to be able to see Portage Glacier from the visitor center but it has receded so much, you have to either hike or take a boat ride. We passed a couple who asked if we had left our daughter at the pass...we said she was with her brother, only to find him asleep in the alpine (must have still been tired from hiking to the Harding Ice Field). After, we drove to the town of Whittier, which is quite a depressed looking town! I think the only thing worthwhile about Whittier is the ferry from Valdez or taking a kayak/cruise tour of Prince William Sound. Spent some time fishing at the Moose Flats day use area and cooked dinner in the van since it was raining (and everyone was hungry).
Drove down to Girdwood for showers and laundry and ended up spending the night at the Crow Creek Mine campground since we were planning on spending Thrusday in Girdwood.
It rained all night! Since we were camping in a forested area, the drips from the trees onto the van were loud. We decided to drive further west (away from town) down the Crow Creek Road and ended up at the Crow Creek Pass trailhead (to Raven Glacier). Although the hike to Raven Glacier was originally on our list of hikes, it was still raining pretty hard and Ryan really wanted to go mountain biking. The original idea was for Ryan to do some downhill mountain biking at Alyeska Resort, but the mountain is only open Friday – Sunday. We headed back into town and rented bikes for our other planned hike/bike – Winner Gorge Creek loop. This is a really cool hike as you take a hand tram over the gorge. Unfortunately, after biking back up Crow Creek Road to the trail head, we found out that the rope for the hand tram had been damaged the day before and was closed until repairs were completed.
After riding/walking the backs through a couple sections of the Iditarod Race Trail, we headed back towards town where we encountered another sub adult black bear off the side of the road. We walked our bikes and spoke noisily making sure the bear was aware we were around. He seemed pretty content to be finding berries along the road. We had just passed our 2 hour limit with the bikes so decided to keep riding. Emily and I rode the bike path toward Alyeska Resort and had some nice views of the glaciers, while Paul and Ryan rode the Blueberry Pancake Trail around the base of Alyeska Mountain. We were all pretty tired and the kids wanted to fish, so we headed back towards Portage and the Williwaw campground area and stopped at Portage Drainage #2 for some fishing. No luck whatsoever! Headed to camp, ate what was leftover since this was officially our last night in the van, finally had a fire to use the rest of our wood and have s'mores, played some Scattegories and called it a night. That was until Emily went to use the restroom and came back to the van to tell us there was a full rainbow that ended right near Middle Glacier with an alpenglow on the glacier. Unfortunately, my phone didn’t capture the whole rainbow (hoping Ryan got a good shot with his camera) but it was beautiful!