Saturday, September 7, 2013

Alaska Omnibus Part 11

Alaska Omnibus

Part 11

From our camp we walked towards glacier. We were 4 people. I, my friend Rajan and a young American couple.

A Glacier near our campsite
After meadow it was all mud and slush and as ice started we were on the firm ice of glacier. We all four kept going up and up, there was a maze of crevices, many were hundreds of feet deep slits in the ice. Some we jumped across and some we went around. Then this girl with us slipped and fell down in one that was about 10 feet deep. She was bruised and her ankle sprained. As she walked to a bit higher area of it, but that turned out soft snow and she sunk even further. Her husband panicked. Cell-phones do not work there.

We walked over this glacier
Now this girl was more than 15 feet deep. We all three removed our pants and shirts and made a rope. She climbed with that rope and as her hands were accessible we pulled her out. Now we were scared to go any further so we retraced our foot prints and walked towards meadow that was 2 kilometers away. Girl was bruised and sprained but was still able to walk. After the meadow, we found some dry wood and made tea on my homemade wood stove that requires only a fistful of wood chips to boil the water. We never carry milk so we drink black tea but anyway we were drinking ledum tea (wild rosemary) that grows all over in Alaskan bogs. Tea felt so good in those circumstances that we have to make it 3 times because at a time we could only make and serve 2 cups.

Near our campsite
So we returned to the campsite at 5PM. Day was sunny and it felt like noon. We walked around and scavenged wood that was not much available here because jungles were thin and trees were stunted. All we gathered were spruce needles and some wet bark. So we have to cook on the gas stove. We decided to take a walk on the main road.

Glacier view from our campsite. We walked to this glacier.
We walked several kilometers. Occasionally a bear, fox, wolf or badger crossed the road. I remembered a small coffee shop on the road so we kept walking. It turned out that coffee shop was about eight kilometers and we had coffee there and returned to our campsite. We were about to make food but this young couple invited us for dinner; they came here on an RV and had a fully equipped kitchen.
We went to sleep at 9PM whereas Alaskan sun was still on the zenith.

Near our campsite
We woke up next day and left early because we had to drive to Haines that was 1200 kilometers. We covered only half the distance that day because we made several stops to make tea and lunch etc. We spent night in the wilderness of Yukon, Canada.

Next day we arrived at Haines Junction at 3PM, From Haines Junction we left Alaska Highway and turned towards Haines. Haines Junction to Haines road is one of the most scenic roads in the world. It passes through the glaciers, snowy mountains and then it descends to Haines in a narrow ravine.

We arrived at Haines at 5PM. At the port we booked Ferry for Juneau for the next day at 11PM, Juneau is the capital of Alaska and a most scenic place in the world. We camped at Chilkat State Park in Haines. Ocean is at three sides of this park.

Haines Highway
Now again tress were huge and green and bald eagles were nesting on each trees. We picked our site next to the water, sea was so silent that many times I mistaken it with fresh water of a lake.

Many people were catching fishes here, everyone had bag full of salmon fish. It was already supper time and most campers were grilling salmon fish on the grills and everyone wondered about why we don’t eat this fish that is prized for its taste.

Glaciers, picture taken from Ferry
Wood was abundant in this park but it was mostly damp but finally it caught up fire. We had drinks and cooked food. We could see Alaska ferry making its trip. Ours this campsite was the most scenic campsites we ever visited. There were high mountains with huge glaciers on the one side and still ocean at the 3 sides and huge spruce trees.

From our camp
We caught Alaska Ferry (Alaska Marine Highway System) from Haines at 11AM. These ferries are bigger that a village and carry hundreds of cars, trucks, goods and passengers. These are very efficient and transportation arrangements are very fast paced. It was only 3 hours of journey so we didn’t book any stateroom on the boat.
This whole passage is in between the fjords. On the both side of the boat were lush green mountains full of snow at the top. We saw several glaciers emerging from the mountains and hanging upon the ocean. All cars and trucks stayed on the car decks below. We arrived at Juneau port at 2PM. Only way to come to Juneau is either by air or by boat. It is not connected with roads with Canada or USA. On its east side are impassible high mountains and glaciers.

Juneau Tramway
There was a huge cruise ship standing on the Juneau port and bazaar was buzzing with the tourists it brought. Most of the cruise ship staffers were Indians. It was higher that 12 story building, we could look inside it; there were ball rooms with 30 feet high ceilings. Ship departed gracefully at 4PM. We stayed there to watch it move. It moved without generating any waves. It just moved laterally, very gracefully and then it shot forward silently and without disturbing any water.

Glaciers, picture taken from Ferry
After the cruise ship left, Juneau port market area went deserted and we drove on the Glacier highway towards wilderness. Road entered in the wilderness and we kept following it. It became a dirt pass and then ended near a river.

Salmon fishes were making a frantic run upstream to get back to their birth place to die. Bears were busy catching and eating the fishes. We ignored them and they ignored us.

Glaciers, picture taken from Ferry
Road went nowhere now and it ended at the base of mountains. Endless summer sunlight was melting the snows so everywhere were waterfalls crashing and land was shaking with the impact. Our car got stuck in the soft ground and it refused to move anyway. We gave up trying and made a camp there.
We walked to the river and watched the salmon fishes jumping and climbing the rocks and bears trying to catch them. Occasionally a fight broke out among bears but fish was plenty.

While we were having drinks we cooked our food, then a usual long walk before going to sleep. Drinks helped us to sleep under the thunder of water falls. One a while some ice wall fell in the sea and was an explosion.
Next day we took the ferry to Prince Rupert. It was an overnight ferry so we booked a stateroom. Prince Rupert area became visible about 2 hours before our boat was scheduled to arrive. Scenes were mesmerizing. There were lots of activities in the ocean. We saw whole goods trains loaded on the boats. Prince Rupert has huge lumber industry. Boats were taking saw dusts from the mills to power-plants those burn that dust. Sulfur was being loaded and unloaded in the ships. Whole area was lush green and sea was blue; it was a feast for the eyes.

Near Prince Rupert
We arrived at Prince Rupert at 10AM. Since we took the boat from USA and Prince Rupert is in Canada so there was Canadian immigration. Form Prince Rupert we drove for 2 long days to return to Vancouver at Rajan’s home.
Vancouver itself is so beautiful and someday I will invite you at another Omnibus to take you there.
Next day Rajan dropped me at Seattle Airport and I arrived in New Jersey at early morning after 6 hours flight.
This ended our Alaska Odyssey.
Omni bus arrived to its terminal.

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