Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Portage Pass Trail, Whittier,Alaska

I'll begin this by saying I'm not a hiker. So I'm posting the information I would be interested in as a non hiker. Portage Pass Trail is about a mile and a half long. I would say it is a definite challenge for the out of shape every day schmo, but do-able. I am an out of shape schmo and I made it to the top by stopping to take breaks and a whole lot of huffing and puffing. The 4 year old that was with us needed to be carried much of the way. I personally wouldn't feel stable enough (even in good shape) to carry a child up the mountain, but it was no problem for her father. Caring small children is a judgement call. We saw older children (9 years old maybe) make the hike with no problem. The path is uneven and covered with loose rocks. It is not good for people with knee or back problems. I had my foot scoot a bit from underneath me several times on the way back down, but no real slips or falls. The other people hiking with me had no problems. When you reach the top you have a nice view of Portage Glacier as seen in the first picture. If you turn around, you have a view of the ocean (second picture). We had a sunny day, which is rare for Whittier. I added the third picture (right) so you can get an idea of the slope of the trail. The trail is about as steep as in the picture, sometimes a bit steeper. After you reach the top (first picture) if you go to the right you can continue on to see the face (bottom, melting part) of the glacier. The trail continues from there, but becomes quite difficult and is only for experienced hikers. Returning down the trail went quickly. The Hike took us about 2 hours, including gawking. Keep an eye on the clock. You may want to time your hike to coordinate with the one way tunnel into Whittier. Traffic switches directions every half hour (in 2009).
On the drive to Whittier, don't miss the scenic view between the two tunnels. It has a great view of several glaciers(shown left).
We ate in Whittier at the Cafe Orca. I split a halibut (fillet) burger and clam chowder. They were both excellent. The sauce on the "burger" had real capers. The grilled fries were also very good. They serve hummus sandwiches if you are a vegetarian. And there is a lovely dining patio that is right next to the ocean.

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