After the dogs, we met up with Carl and John and caught the free shuttle to the nearby National Park visitor center. Wrangell - St. Elias Park is the biggest National Park in the US. It has over 100 glaciers, and 3 of the top 10 tallest mountains in the entire country. Mt. Wrangell is an active volcano. The hikes from the visitor center were slightly disappointing in how short they were, but the views of the river and mountains were nice. We hiked all of the trails they had in under an hour and got back on the shuttle. Pete and Ellen did laundry in the AM and then watched a moving picture, narrated show about the Aurora. We all met for lunch at the pub at the lodge.
In the afternoon, Carl took a jetboat tour and went salmon fishing in the Klutina River. The rest of us went on the "wild and scenic back country rafting" trip. This time, we did not have the option to paddle, but instead were ferried down the river. Our guides explained that it's safer to do it this way because when you paddle you are not looking at what is coming at you and you are not holding onto anything, therefore more likely to get tossed out of the raft. Although I liked the excitement of paddle rafting better, this option was nice in that we got to look at the surroundings much more and could take pictures. I got a short video of us going into a big rapid and will share a link when I can. We saw baby eagles and other birds, and even passed Carl with his fishing group along the way. Carl caught a 45 lb salmon, but opted to release it because the guide explained that looking at the color it was older and the muscles were deteriorating due to the migration strain and would not have tasted great. They give you the option to ship back home whatever you catch, but this particular fish would not have been worth the shipping cost compared to buying fresh salmon from the market back home.
|Carl was so focused on untangling his line, he didn't even see us when we rafted by his jet boat!|
|45 lb salmon catch on the Klutina River|
|Pete and Ellen model the utilitarian, yet quite garish water gear provided for the rafting. Unlike the first rafting adventure, these were not dry suits, although if you buttoned up the collar you stayed fairly dry.|
Saturday morning, we left at 8 am by bus destined for Valdez and are driving a very scenic route through the mountains. We stopped at Worthington Glacier for a quick bathroom break and photo op and the kids hustled up to the leading edge to see the ice cavern and get some pictures. We raced back down the glacier to make it to the bus. The bus also stopped at a nearby waterfall and we took some more family photos before we prepare to part ways this evening.
We are now pulling into Valdez for lunch and I am going to try to find WiFi and post this, so you will have to hear the rest of the details about the cruise across Prince William Sound and getting to the cruise ship in the next bulletin.