I know, it’s been a few days. We have been camping at Exit Glacier, just north of Seward. A bit of history – William Seward was Lincoln’s Secretary of State, and he was the person who organised to purchase Alaska from Russia for USD $7.2 million in 1867 – it worked out at about 2 cents per acre.
We spent 3 nights at a free campground in the Kenai Fjords National Park and it was superb. 12 tent sites, all nicely separated from each other, with a cooking shelter, bear-proof food locker, potable water and drop toilets. No RVs allowed, which is fine with us – some of those things are so big, they would run our not-so-little tent over and not even feel it. A park ranger visited each night to make sure everything was okay, and to educate campers about being bear and moose-aware. It’s bear country there!
The first night we were there with 2 other families – one on holidays from South Carolina and some locals who had lived in Alaska all their lives. Great people all of them. The next 2 nights there was a tour group there, and the dynamics were really different – groups aren’t interested in anyone but themselves, take over all the available space, break the rules about keeping the area bear-free and are generally best avoided. I’ve been in tour groups like that and hang my head in shame. Anyway …
We visited Exit Glacier, which is just up the road from the campground, and it’s an easy walk to get fairly close to the edge. Greg made the wise observation that ‘Glaciers and sausages are both better seen from a long distance, up close they both look pretty awful’. We also went to Bear Lake, where there is an artificial weir for salmon to jump up, and watched the salmon jump. It’s amazing, the ordeal these fish undergo to reproduce. They were being tagged and released. A couple of days later, we drove past the Kenai/Russian river junction and saw dozens of fishermen standing in the water, fishing for red salmon. Our eyes popped out of our heads, there were so many standing a couple of metres away from each other!
A couple of tour organisations offer boat cruises from Seward to see tidewater glaciers, marine and shore wildlife. We did an 8.5 hour cruise to Aialik tidewater glacier and watched it ‘calve’ – which is where huge bits of the glacier break off and fall into the water. We also saw lots of marine life – orcas, humpback whales, otters, sea lions, porpoises … and other wildlife, but by that time we were both seasick and not taking much notice of what was happening. It was a good tour, though and I was really pleased to see the tidewater glacier.