Denali AKA Mt. McKinley


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Continued from the previous page.


The more rustic Nature Trail forms a partial loop off the eastern end of the Trail of Blue Ice and adds another couple interesting miles of hiking and cycling.

Here's the trail map again:

The Nature Trail is marked in yellow dotted lines. Part of the trail is on the other side of Portage Valley Road. Some of it is wide gravel, some rather narrow single-track.

The nature trail passes by several very scenic glacier-blue ponds which are actually gravel pits dug by the Forest Service. Some of the stream channels were also man-made to facilitate salmon spawning in the valley.

Jim rides on a more narrow section of the Nature Trail.



I described this man vs. nature process in more detail in one of the entries dated July 15, 2012.

We were able to spot spawning salmon in at least two places. In a little stream on the other side of the road we could see about two dozen red salmon just sitting there, resting, shortly after high tide (the tides affect these steams):


I figured they would have moved farther upstream when I passed by again a few hours later but they were still in the same place. I could see salmon there the next evening, too.

There is a large deck at the salmon viewing area adjacent to Williwaw CG and the bike path. Tour buses and folks driving on the road to Whittier often stop here to view the fish as they swim past the deck. Signs describe the life cycle of all five kinds of salmon that spawn in Alaska:

There are Jim and Casey again.

The Williwaw Nature Trail is more open so we saw more flowers there than on the Trail of Blue Ice. Both kinds of fireweed are still in bloom in this valley. 

The tall variety is well past peak, with most of the flowers at the top of their stalks or entirely gone and seeds visible in the white fluff :


The dwarf variety of fireweed is still going strong:

White yarrow is also in bloom. I didn't see much else blooming along the trails.

Here are some other photos from the Williwaw Nature Trail:








Moose Flats, a developed unit of the National Forest Service, is located on the north side of the Portage Valley Road about a mile from the Seward Highway.

The Trail of Blue Ice crosses the road and ends in a parking area in Moose Flats:



This day use area is popular for watching wildlife ranging in size from birds to moose. Boardwalks, bridges, and trails wind through the wetlands and forests and past several lakes.

People also come here to picnic, swim, hike, and bike.

We rode our bikes to Moose Flats in 2012. You can see some other photos, from that overcast day, here.  This evening was the first time I've ridden on the little trails in the day use area after the Trail of Blue Ice ends.







Those photos are so much more inviting than the ones I took on a rainy, overcast day in 2012.


Sunday evening we watched the movie "Taking Chance" with Kevin Bacon. Jim borrowed the DVD from the library at JBER and we'll return it next week. The movie is a tear-jerker but every person in the U.S. should see it.

It's based on a real Marine (Chance Phelps) who died fighting in Iraq. Bacon's character, a colonel with a desk job who feels guilty for wanting to stay in Virginia with his family instead of going to the Middle East to fight, volunteers to escort Chance's body home to Wyoming. The movie shows the great care service members who are KIA are given every step of the way, from the battlefield to the grave.

Next entrymore sunny photos from the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center and two hikes to Byron Glacier

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil