Kenai Peninsula , AK
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This page include our trip around the Kenai Peninsula, mostly seaside towns and their nearby attraction.
Seward, AK. A beautiful seaside town some 126 miles south of Anchorage. The gateway to Kenai Fjord National Park.
Exit Glacier. Part of Kenai Fjord National Park. In early June, the snow on trails leading to Exit Glacier is still waist-deep. The trip took us 9 full hours. However, that was the best hike I ever had, by far. The magnificent views, the shaky feeling of walking on puffy snow, and the physical challenge are just unforgettable.
I guess everyone who has been to Alaska should know at least a little about glaciers. Glaciers are river of ice, flowing in a much slower rate. Glacier movement is powerful. It carves out valleys and shapes mountains. Exit Glacier is one of the more accessible glaciers in Alaska, you can see the terminus (tail) of the glacier just about one mile from the parking lot. At lower altitude, below the treeline, we met plenty of wildlife. What do you think that black hair ball buried in the bush is? A Black Bear (Ursus americanus)! When you see mother black bear leading her cubs, better keep a distance. They're very protective mothers. The little American Yellow Finch (Sicalis luteola) has a sweet voice. The last one is a Marmot (Marmota broweri) with an eye like the Terminator, because I forgot to turn on the camera's red-eye reduction : ).
Higher altitude, trees become thinner and thinner, and finally turn into bushes. Above the treeline, it'll be all snow. Our steps become heavier and heavier, because of the deep puffy snow. But that's when the show begins. Up there, it seems like the world has only three colors: white, blue, and black.
After over 5 hours of stumbling, we finally reached the end of the trail. Near the end there's an emergency shelter -- an empty wooden lodge. So proud!
On our way down, the snow scene was only getting better. When we see steep slope, just sit on it and slide our way down : ) Well that was fun, but it got us all wet.
A boat trip in Kenai Fjord National Park. Covers the southeast coast line of the Kenai Peninsula
Whales! These are Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), gentle giants that weight about 50 tons, and about 50 ft in length. They just spent the winter in the Japan sea and now are back for the summer. Whales are mammals of course, so they breath with their lungs and have breathing holes (sort of like nose) on their backs. When we see the geyser in those pix, we know that the whale is breathing. In the last three pix, the giant took a deep breath and then dived deep into the water... it would be at least 5 minutes before it resurface.
Killer Whales (Orcinus orca). Killer whales're actually relative of dolphin, but they are ferocious predators like the name implies. Killer whales are social animals, living in family groups. In the last picture a mother is swimming with her baby.
Yeah, I'm from the Bay Area, but NO, I have never seen so many birds in my life!
Other Wildlife. Two Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) resting on the highest rock, selecting their prey. On the steep ridge where water falls hang, mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) were jumping around. Gosh, if I was high up there, I probably would have looked down to the ocean and fainted. Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) are enjoying the sun and great view of snow mountain ranges and glaciers.
Glaciers in Harris Bay. Here in Harris Bay, ice from Northwestern Glacier flow into the ocean, leaving blocks of iceberg flowing around. Resting on the iceberg are hundreds of Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina), looking at us curiously.
So we finally approached the terminus of glacier. It's quiet except for distant howling of the harbor seals. All of a sudden, a huge thunder broke the silence! Glacier calved and ice slid into the ocean.
Hope, AK. Charming little town where we spent a night living in a cozy little forest cabin. Near sunset (10:00pm), a Moose (Alces alces) was wandering around. Moose are huge animals which can weight up to 2,000 lbs.
Homer, AK. A seaport. The most interesting part of the city is the so-called Homer Spit, a 5-mile strip of land sticking into the Kachemak Bay. Not a very likable name but visually appropriate, if you look at it in a map. On the spit there're boat harbors, stores, restaurants, and a memorial for those who died in the ocean. American Bald Eagles are frequent visitors to the spit.
Starting from the harbor in the Homer Spit, we took a boat trip to the Gull island. So again, countless number of birds hovering in the sky. A Red-face Cormorant (Phalacrocorax urile) flied by us with a mouthful of fish.
The cute little guy with a big orange beak is a Puffin (Fratercula corniculata). Everyone loves them. A group of Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) is playing on water. They love to lie with their belly up, one hand...claw holds the food (usually shell fish or dungeness crab), then crack them with stone holding on the other hand... pretty smart eh?
More wildlife. A large flock of Murre (Uria aalge) were about to dive into water. Next 2 pix, a Black Oyster Catcher (Haematopus bachmani) is resting on the pebble beach. In the last two pix is the Elephant Rock. From different angles, we found the elephant's long nose stick down and then up : )
Seldovia, AK. Yet another seaside town. Very quiet because it's not a tourist town.
Fishing is an important income source for this town. These fishermen are cleaning their freshly caught Halibut (Paralichthys californicus). In the next few days, they will appear in our super markets far far away -- Alaskan Halibut steak, $6 per lb. The fish's bone and blood are thrown into the harbor, where micro organism and sea flowers flourish. Schools of newly hatched baby Halibuts (last pic) are attracted here too, because of the abundance of food. It just makes you wonder, what a circle of life.
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