We decided to drive down to Portage Valley this morning so Jim could
check out the shoulders along the Seward Hwy.
He wanted to do a long bike ride later this week from the south part of
Anchorage to the visitor center past Williwaw Campground on Portage
Valley Rd. but decided there's too much traffic -- and it'll get
worse by Friday because of the upcoming holiday weekend.
He concluded that
he'll just have to continue doing long rides at JBER and on Anchorage's
great network of bike paths. He's training for a 100-mile bike race in a
The drive along
Turnagain Arm is gorgeous when the sun is out and the tide is high.
This morning the tide
was high but the only sun was back in Anchorage. However, the clouds and
rain we saw to the north (Chugach Mountains), south (more Chugach
Mountains on the Kenai Peninsula), and east toward Portage Valley made
for some dramatic photos.
The Alaska RR track follows the highway to Portage;
this is Beluga Point.
The biggest problem
on this road is all the traffic.
Even on a rainy
weekday, traffic along the narrow, curving road is pretty heavy. Weekends
are worse. Tourists are totally distracted by the scenery
and locals are impatient -- a recipe for wrecks, which are
We could see rain in Portage Valley before we got there. That put the kabosh
on hiking the Trail of Blue Ice or at Byron Glacier, two places
we really enjoyed in 2012.
Above and below: Several glaciers in Portage
Valley are visible before you get there.
We spent quite a while investigating sites at Williwaw Campground. We
have a reservation for a site for two days in early August before
we go to Seward and for three days after Seward. We concluded
that site is probably going to be too narrow and difficult for us to get
Only about 20 of the 60 sites can be reserved. Jim wanted the security
of having a site reserved so we did that online several months ago. Even
though we looked at the sites on Google Earth they look different in
We drove through the campground loops three times, noting sites that
were long enough and had good access for our 36-foot 5th-wheel coach and
One of the hanging glaciers in the valley is
visible from the campground.
It costs almost as much to change a reservation as our half-price Olde
Phart National Forest Service
site fee so we decided to leave the reservations as is and hope to get a
non-reservable site that's larger when we arrive each time. The host
and his wife said the campground has had plenty of sites available on
weekdays so far this summer.
Clouds obscure most of Twentymile Glacier between Portage and Girdwood.
We put off doing two other things on our list for this day trip, too.
It was raining on our way back to Anchorage so we didn't drive back to
the Crow Pass trailhead at Girdwood. It's several miles off the highway
and we didn't know the condition of the road in the rain. We also didn't
walk as planned at Potter's Marsh because dogs aren't allowed on the
boardwalks or trails. We forgot about that.
Although it sounds like this day trip was a bust, we enjoyed the
dramatic scenery. It was quite different from the sunnier trips
we had on this road in 2012.
It was mostly sunny when we got back to Anchorage today at
lunchtime. We did some shopping, then spent time hiking and riding our
bikes in the afternoon and evening. The weather can change quickly in
Next entry: Bodenburg Butte evening hike
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil