Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Portage Pass

f you can see the no see em’s are they still no see em’s? That was the question we pondered as we sat in the warm car with the windows rolled up, watching scores of the hungry pesky bugs looking for any opening so they could get at our blood.

 No See Um Resting On Alaska Spirea

We were stopped on the Portage side of the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel waiting for our turn to drive through to Passage Canal, the town of Whittier and the Portage Pass trail head.

The last few times I have traversed the tunnel it has been on a bike. Which means you have to wait until all the cars have gone, giving the bugs the advantage, you also get rained on by water dripping through the mountain, but the best part is staying between the rail road tracks and staying upright as you endure the wind from the huge ventilation fans that I am convinced whoever is watching the cameras turn on as soon as they see a motorcycle.
Just so you can be further cheated, on a bike you have to pay the same toll as a car, so today I am getting my $12.00 worth. Riding on on four wheels, climate controlled,  in a bug free motor car.
We pop out on the Prince William Sound side of the tunnel to find it is one of the 5 sunny warm nice days of the year hear,  and as a bonus the wind is blowing enough to keep all the bugs away. We stop at the outhouse and discover an antediluvian communication device.

Hello Can You Hear Me Now?

No instructions were with the device and after trying to send text messages we gave up and headed to the trail head.
From the trail head the trail climbs steadily towards the summit. From what I had read aboot the path I expected to be scampering over boulders, but the surface was mainly broken shale rocks, and in just a short ways behind us were excellent views of Passage Canal.

Passage Canal And The Town Of Whittier

Along the path salmon berries are plentiful and were just blooming. Rose hips, wild geranium, goats beard and of course devils club and cows parsnip are all just a step off the trail.

Not Even Ripe Salmon Berry and Blossom

At the summit the goal of the hike, is a view of the remains of Portage Glacier.

This picture is from a 1978 Alaska calendar. Back then Portage Glacier went clear around the corner from where its face is today. The glacier was visible from the visitor center and the lake was usually filled with ice bergs.
Portage Glacier  Today
Today the face has retreated all the way around the corner, and can no longer be seen from the visitor center. Ice bergs are rare.  Climate change is real in spite of our congressional delegations denial, but then they work for the koch brothers not Alaskans.

We turned around at the summit but the trail meanders through brush to portage lake and must end directly across from the face of the glacier. Next time…
Well next time I will take a closer look....

No comments:

Post a Comment