On the Road Adventures
Monday, August 3, 2009
August 3 - Valdez
What did I say about these Alaskan mountains? Once again, “impressive” is redefined. The Chugach mountains leading into Valdez are just breathtaking. This area of Alaska is not called “little Switzerland” for nothing! Vista after vista unfolded with every turn. One thing we noted was the poles along the sides of the roads once we got well into the mountains here – they are to guide the snowplows so they stay on the road. And they have to be 20’ tall!
We set up camp and then went to find fish, which we had heard were swarming around here. The first stop was a small stream with a viewing boardwalk where yes, there were pinks spawning beneath our feet. The patterns of rocks and water almost made an elegant abstract of the fish. Then we went across to the other side of the bay to a place called Solomon’s Creek.
There is a fish hatchery there and the fish are guided by a weir into the channel leading into the hatchery. Oh, my goodness, there were a lot of fish! So many there was hardly enough water to contain them. We just stood and watched in awe at not only the quantity of the fish, but the raw determination that drove them again and again into the rush of water leading to the place they most desperately needed to be.
There was a channel along one side of the rapids that the gulls had turned into a ferris wheel for birds. They would fly to the top of the channel and let the current drift them down until they ran into a raft of fish where the current slowed down. Then they’d fly back to the top and do the ride all over again. Those dark areas on each side of the birds aren't rocks - they are thousands of salmon going upstream as the gulls are going down. Along the way the gulls would peck at the fish swimming the opposite direction beside them. It reminded me of those sushi restaurants that have the dishes on a little revolving strip that floats them in front of you for you to choose the ones you want.
I noticed that a whole bunch of gulls on one of the other sandbars all of a sudden swarmed into the air, and then I saw the bald eagle flying in. Most of the gulls decided to go elsewhere, but some of them stayed to protect their scraps.