A journey to Alaska
Whereas most British travellers to Alaska opt to arrive by cruise, we started our Alaska adventure from Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, home to 300,000 people and approximately 2000 moose.
Starting our journey on the Alaska Railroad heading South to Seward, we decided to travel in style in Gold Star Class with 360 degree views, elevated viewing platforms and all-inclusive dining. On route, we spotted two black bears, a moose and plenty of eagles as well as beautiful mountain views, which made it a perfect start to the trip.
In the pretty port town of Seward which is the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park we met Exit Glacier Tours who fitted us with crampons for a glacier trek on Godwin Glacier. Accessed only by helicopter with 360 glacier mountain views and glimpses of Resurrection Bay below, the glacier offered exquisite ice formations including moulins, crevices and running ice water rivers where we learnt the basic techniques for walking on ice.
The next day, we went stand-up-paddle-boarding amongst icebergs and glaciers with Brendan and Chris from Liquid Adventures near Bear Glacier, the Harding Icefield's largest glacier. Starting with a 40 minute boat journey to reach the location, we passed porpoise and a humpback on route as well as puffins and plenty of Eagles. Once there we were surrounded by stillness and nature, the only noise coming from icebergs calving and the odd splash from our paddles.
After returning to Anchorage, we drove through incredible mountain scenery and past the Matanuska Glacier to Chitina where we took a small plane with Wrangell Air over the snow covered mountain tops to the fascinating town of McCarthy for our stay at Ma Johnson's Historic Hotel. Located just five miles from the former copper mine and working town of Kennecott, McCarthy popped up partly due to the prohibition of alcohol and women in Kennecott so where workers would come for 'wine, women and song'.
Kennecott itself is an extraordinary relic from Alaska's past, telling stories of exploration, westward expansion and the lives of the people who took on the challenge of living and working there. The wild remoteness of Kennecott and the wonderfully preserved wooden power house balanced precariously on a mountain edge make it a fascinating place.
From Kennecott, we hiked to Root Glacier just a few miles away where we explored ice formations and blue water pools with local tour company St Elias Mountain Guides.
The final part of our trip was spent in Anchorage where we visited the Alaska Native Heritage Centre and the fantastic Anchorage Museum, currently displaying 'Arctic Ambitions; Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage', focusing on Cook's journeys in the northeast Pacific in 1778 and 1779.
On our final day, the sun was shining so we took a walk along the Tony Knowles coastal path in Anchorage and a flight-seeing excursion with Rusts Flying Company to Mount McKinley, North America's highest peak. Passing over basecamp where climbers below were attempting to reach McKinley's summit, the trip was a dramatic way of capturing the vastness of Denali National Park and the perfect finale for our Alaska adventure.
Images from left to right:
1. Abriendo Mentes, Costa Rica, Copyright KateHood.com
2. Nuevas Esperanzas, Nicaragua
3. Vidarte Space, Brazil