Enough of the hotel already; we came here to hike and camp. Based on the advise of the Copper Valley Air guys, we head down to Valdez. It’s a beautiful drive and we’re surprised how much the scenery has changed. It’s probably because we’re driving through the mountains as opposed to around them. We pass a couple of beautiful waterfalls as well as a glacier that we will plan to explore the next day.
We stroll around Valdez and it seems to be what we’d expect a real Alaskan town to be. Lots of evidence of the oil and fishing. It’s always overcast and has a gritty, industrial feel to it. We have lunch at MacMurrays Alaska Halibut House, the local equivalent of Long John Silvers. The fires are soggy but the fried fish is fresh off the boat and excellent. The salmon was great, but I think Jayson’s halibut was even better. Guess that’s why it’s not called Salmon House.
There are very few mosquitoes in Valdez and surrounding areas. We are happy.
We stop by the local tourism office and ask about hiking and camping. We’re disappointed that the long train long the coast with camping is washed out an unavailable. We settle on a shorter trail north of town that is guaranteed to have bears. I’m excited. I want to get a photo of a bear and I have my 300mm lens ready. We start up the trail and are surprised to find it’s actually a service road to the dam above. We immediately see bear scat and we each check our bear mace canisters. We sign the logbook and head in. Soon after we see a big black shape suddenly pop-up above the ridge in front of us. My eyes widen and I read for my camera and bear mace at the same time. It’s a dude on a mountain bike.
That was the most exciting part of the hike. At the end of the trail was the dam, which we climbed down. We hung-out for a while and then hiked back to our car. A giant grizzly marked the side of our car! Well, upon further inspection, it looks like it was probably a dog. Our bear viewing experience was a bust. At least I was able to get a photo of a bald eagle perched on driftwood in the middle of the lake.
We headed back north to Blueberry Lake campground. We were initially a little disappointed with the selection of sites, but eventually found a perfect place for 4 tents and no neighbors at back of the grounds. The fog / clouds were thick and it made for a cool and eerie camping experience. We scavenged fire wood (because the camp ground had none for sale), made a fire, boiled water for our dinners, and finished-off (I take most of the credit) the Jack. The cloud cover made for the dimmest night we’d seen, and you actually needed a flashlight to read in your tent. It was also the coldest night we’d had, reaching down into the 30s.