Day 32, Sunday, 5/20/18
Valdez, Alaska

Happy anniversary to Tristan and Taylor!

The small white dots are Dall sheep
This morning we saw the Dall sheep on the mountain. They're both incredibly hardy and fragile; the lambs have a 50% mortality rate.

Just behind the restaurant, there's a junk yard (Alaska is a land of contrasts reminds me of Maine!) with just Volvo's. 'Jim's' is just a parts yard. In 2017, there was a large mudslide that pretty much buried the cars and buildings. We took a walk through the yard. Looking at the damage, we were reminded that these mountains and large parts of Alaska sit on
geologically active plates - earthquake faults and volcanoes with the risk of tsunamis.

Jim's muddy junk yard

We bid farewell to Sheep Mountain, it's sheep and rabbits and continued to Valdez to spend some time with my cousin Glen. Highway 1 follows the Chugach range to the east until Glennallen, where highway 4 heads south for about 100 miles where it dead ends in Valdez. There is only one way in over a steep mountain pass that is sometimes not passable due to snow or mudslide!When we got there we could not see the ocean, because of all the mountains!!!. On a long straight part of the road, we got a pretty good view of Mt. Sanford (16,237 feet), Mt. Drum (12,010 feet) and Mt. Wrangell (14,163 feet). Mt. Wrangell is an active volcano. Large plains led up to the mountains; mostly spruce with the occasional caribou (and bones, probably poached.)

Wrangell View

Just a few miles from Glennallen, in Copperville, we started to see the Wrangell range to the east. During much of the drive to Valdez we were sandwiched between the Wrangells on the left and the Chugach on the right. We stopped at the Worthington glacier to take a look. There was still snow on the ground, a bit too rotten to make the walk to it's terminus.

Driving on took us to Thompson Pass, a 2,805 foot gap in the Chugach leading to Valdez. It's the only way to get to Valdez by car. There was still a lot of snow at the pass. Apparently, Thompson Pass is the snowiest place in Alaska averaging close to 50 feet in a year.

Once over the pass, it was 30 miles or so to downtown Valdez. The road narrows and passes through what looks like a long gorge. Waterfalls everywhere - Bridal Veil, Horsetail Falls and a slew of  nameless smaller falls.

Coming into Valdez

Glen Sinclair, Proprieter
We arrived in Valdez around supper time and made our way to the Roadside Potatohead to find Glen. It was a royal reception! We were introduced to Christine, Glen's business partner, then dinner - cheese steak, curley fries and beer for dinner. It was a late night, chatting with Glen and catching up. It's great to see him!

Tomorrow, it's off to McCarthy with Glen who has a few days off, and great plans in store for us to meet the community, walk the Root Glacier and have an Alaskan seafood feast that he planned for. 

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