From Glenallen you travel South on the Richardson Highway to Valdez. What starts as rolling hills coated with dry, spindly trees abruptly turns to large mountain peaks and deciduous trees. As 7 pm rolled around I began my usual routine of slamming on the brakes at random, pulling u-turns and backing out of peoples overgrown driveways in search of a place to camp. Finally after a little information was gleaned from a gentleman and his family I found a quiet spot beside a roaring river. After a failed attempt at starting a fire I gobbled down a quick, warm meal then went to bed.
Early next morning I wake up to a racket overhead only to find two bald eagles chatting in the tree tops above me, 'Merica! The night was cold with showers so I huddled under my awning while sipping hot coffee. Shortly after I packed up my stuff and hit the road once again. I wasn't long behind the wheel before I spied Worthington Glacier from the road and went to investigate.
Standing below a gigantic sheet of ice is an experience you need to have. It's humbling. To think that something so massive and so seemingly solid is slowly moving down the mountain and that this same ice carved many of the mountain passes you've seen is really eye opening. It's scary knowing that those same sheets of ice are receding, the Worthington glacier terminus was at the Richardson Highway not long ago.
The drive through Keystone Canyon right before you enter Valdez is one of a true epic nature. The near vertical rock walls tower over you as you drive along and do their best to make you feel like a little ant. In addition to the massive scale of the surrounding canyon there are many waterfalls to view as you drive along two notable falls the Bridal Veil Falls and Horsetail Falls.
I had essentially zero reference points for the Valdez, so as I drove in I stopped in at the information center to get an idea of what I was in for. I was told to walk the peer and wait for the daily catch to come in. It was also suggested to go check out the Valdez Glacier, but I'd have to rent a kayak and paddle to go see it, having a dwindling bank account and less time than I had hoped for to get home and it was a little too wet and cold for me at that point I opted to browse the boats and wait for the daily catch.
As I drove away from Valdez and it was getting late I began my usual search for a place to camp. At one point I turned off the highway and followed a road to a dead end; however, on the way in I spied a bridge (seen above, right). Upon arriving at the dead end I hopped out of the truck and hiked to the bridge. Turns out the bridge was built after a temporary military bridge was washed away after an ice dam blew sometime during WW2. The permanent bridge was put in place to the behest of the military who wanted an immediately usable but not permanent bridge put in place to continue war-efforts.
After crossing some private land and following a quad trail I found camp for the night on a river delta. The next morning it was time to drive back to Tok.