Anchorage/Turnagain Arm, Alaska

30 July 2005

Today was another rainy day in Anchorage. We decided to go approximately 50 miles (80 Km) south of the city, along Turnagain Arm, to Portage Glacier. Turnagain Arm branches east from Cook Inlet and contains one beautiful view after the other. Unfortunately, the rain and clouds prevented us from getting too many pictures. Turnagain arm was named by Captain Cook who was trying to find an easy passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic. He turned into this branch of the inlet only to find it a dead end so he "turned again" to return to the inlet. Turnagain arm is the border between the Chugach Mountains on the north and the Kenai Mountains on the peninsula to the south.

At the eastern end of Turnagain arm is Portage Glacier and Portage Lake (see topographic map). At one time Portage Glacier ended in Turnagain Arm. In the past several hundred years the glacier receded back from Turnagain Arm to its present position approximately 8 miles back. One hundred and fifty years ago its position was at the western end of Portage Lake (which did not exist). The glacier is not visible from the Visitors Center and it is necessary to take a boat on the lake to the where the glacier terminates in the eastern end of the lake.

Near the town of Portage is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This facility treats injured or orphaned animals. It does not return them to the wild because they have become used to being around humans, which would make them easy targets for hunters. The Center is a good place to get close views of a variety of animals which are difficult to see in the wild.

We will be going past Turnagain arm on our way to Seward and if conditions allow, we will get some additional pictures which will be posted on that day.

Turnagain Arm viewed from Beluga Point
Explorer Glacier viewed from Portage Creek
Portage Glacier Area
Portage Glacier, left, showing Medial Moraine (black line), which contains material scoured from the mountains."
At right is a close up view of the glacier.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Bison Bull
Caribou Bull
Elk Bull
Elk Cow
Sitka Black Tailed Deer
Our campground is located near Ship Creek, a well known salmon spawning creek. Local residents line the banks during the salmon runs in the hope that they will catch some. When salmon enter their home creeks, they do not feed anymore. Their instincts are to head to the place where they were hatched, lay and fertilize their eggs and nothing else. Once they complete their spawning, they die. Fisherman use lures to get the salmon to strike... they are not permitted to use live bait under Alaska laws.

Ship Creek has at least two runs, late June and early July is one of them and the other peaks in mid August. We are a little early for the August run, but a few early arrivals could be seen in the creek. A viewing bridge and fish ladder are only a few minutes away so we all went to see the fish... we saw one. This afternoon, we were at another bridge a few hundred yard downstream and saw several hundred salmon. This evening we went back to the bridges and, while they saw only a few fish, we did see a young fisherman with two salmon that he caught.