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A One-Way Ticket to Alaska (Part 3)

November 1:

While driving to our first adventure of the day, I was mesmerized by how clear and blue the sky was. We drove beside Turnagain Arm for about an hour. I couldn’t take my eyes off the landscape. The mountain peaks blended seamlessly into the sky. It’s one of those moments where you feel like you’re witnessing where heaven and earth meet.

The ocean was to our right, but a wall of rock was to our left. Small waterfalls and scars left from avalanches striped the rockface. I didn’t know avalanches leave a mark so prolific.


Portage Glacier:

J.T. told me we were hiking to a glacier today. He also told me that it was going to be raining the whole time… after we were halfway there.

It was 37 (3°C) when we arrived at the trailhead. Our car was the only one in the parking lot, for good reason. Between the temperature and the constant rain, it was not ideal hiking weather.

The path was riddled with puddles, and the rain pierced my cheeks. My jeans were soaked by the time we made it to the end of the trail. The nearly black path dissolved into an open field of rocks. A river ran through the frozen aftermath of an avalanche to our left, and mountains surrounded us on all sides. I finally found my evergreens. Apparently, they’re mostly on the mountains.

As we made our way towards the glacier, shards of ebony rocks turned into a mosaic of sharp-edged stones and slick-surfaced boulders. My legs were numb from the knee up at this point, and the fear of slipping made for a slow trek. My gator kept fogging my glasses so it hung around my neck, letting the thin, cold air burn my throat and lungs.

J.T. was bounds ahead of me and repeatedly would leave my sight. My mind would bounce back and forth from awe to anxiousness.

We climbed on top of a slick boulder, and J.T. pointed to the glacier that was still half a mile or so ahead of us.

“If I’m cold, I know you must be freezing. Let’s head back,” he said.

My gloves were soaked, my lungs ached, and the idea of hiking through more slick rocks seemed like a nightmare.

On our way back, J.T. kept going ahead of me which was terrifying. The only logical thing to do was to sit down and let out my most authentic scream as I grasped my leg. I pretended to cry until he came back, and then I couldn’t help but burst into laughter. He didn’t seem to enjoy my practical joke, but it worked!

Once we were back on the path, he ran ahead of me, and I was left alone again. Between the sounds of the wind, the groaning of ice shifting, and the roar of the river, it was easy to get nervous about not being able to hear a moose charging up from behind me.

J.T. jumped out from the bushes and scared me senseless. I screamed so loud it hurt my throat. Pay back. Don’t you love siblings?

By the time we got back to the car, we were both soaked to the bone. I was the coldest I had been in a really long time.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center:

Next, we went to see the animals of Alaska. We were freezing and the whole place was underwater, but we still saw some amazing creatures.

All the animals there were rescued for one reason or another. The bald eagle there only had one wing, and I was surprised to see the bears were still awake. Most of the animals were bedded down, hiding from the elements. I don't blame them.

Preparing to Leave:

Once we were back to Anchorage, we found a place to get COVID tested to make sure we would be good to cross the Canadian border.

Next, we went to the store and spent way too much on snacks for our trip! I also grabbed my Alaskan souvenirs and a large reusable water bottle since I forgot mine at home (there’s always at least one thing).

We spent the rest of the afternoon packing and loading up the last of our supplies. We also spent nearly half an hour in the rain trying to figure out how to attach our gas cans to the Jeep. Who knew it would be so complicated.

I think we’re both starting to get nervous about our next endeavor. The reality of embarking on a ten-day road trip in unknown territory is daunting.

But hey, if we can survive a freezing hike to a glacier, how bad can driving be?

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