Yesterday was the 59th anniversary of Alaska’s Good Friday Earthquake. The above photo from the Alaska Digital Archives show the rail line north of Seward after the 9.2 magnitude quake struck South-central Alaska.
Tag Archives: Seward
“A Dreamer’s Search”
In the summer of 1918, Rockwell Kent arrived in Seward, Alaska with his nine year old son. They spent the rest of that summer, and the following winter in a small log cabin on Fox Island out in Resurrection Bay. They rebuilt the cabin, cut firewood, explored the island, but most of all Kent worked on his art. The work that followed, including his memoir Wilderness, inspired countless numbers of artists and adventurers alike.
A Dreamer’s Search is a short film by Alaskan filmmaker Eric Downs. The film explores the Kents adventure out on Fox Island, and asks one big question:
Would you risk everything to find your true calling?
A landslide blocked Lowell Point Road in Seward over the weekend. Workers began to cautiously clear the road on Monday. Lowell Point is outside Seward, and the narrow gravel road follows the shoreline of Resurrection Bay out to the point, where there are several campgrounds, lodges, resorts and B&B’s. It’s a pretty area, dominated by the beauty of Resurrection Bay. As of Tuesday, there were at least 40 cars trapped on the “wrong” side of the landslide. No word on how many travelers, who were trying to get out to Lowell Point, and now can not get to their destination.
This post is less about the landslide, and more about giving yourself extra time when visiting Alaska, and accepting the unexpected.
This is Alaska, after all.
I’ve seen a lot of complaints online about the slide from tourists, and I know several housing accommodations have taken some flack for the road closure. No matter where you are in Alaska, and this includes Los Anchorage, you are never very far from wilderness. That is the main draw of the place.
Our infrastructure is minimal when compared with the Lower 48. Many communities have one way in and one way out. In my time in Alaska, I’ve probably seen it all: Roads closed from landslides, wash outs, beaver dams, ornery moose and/or grizzly, avalanche and wildfires. Flights delayed or rushed because of blizzards, volcanic eruptions, and pilot strikes. Sometimes, all you can do is take a deep breath, open a cold refreshment, and chill out for a day… or two…
We all have deadlines, but sometimes we find ourselves dealing with forces that have no interest in flight departures. So, if you visit Alaska, by all means, get out and explore the state, but leave the time planner at home. Enjoy both the view and the ride.
The Chugach Transients
Over the past several decades, scientists out of Homer & Seward, Alaska have tracked a pod of killer whales that they have dubbed The Chugach Transients. In 1989, this particular pod swam through the Exxon Valdez oil spill. That year, the pod had 22 members. The following year, nine members had died.
Today, only seven remain, including a 46 year old male known as Egagutak. Individual whales can be identified by photographs, which is what happened with Egagutak this summer, when a tour group sent his photo to the North Gulf Oceanic Society. Individual pods of whales are also identified acoustically, because a pod’s call is unique.
The Chugach Transients have not had a calf in the thirty plus years since the oil spill. The exact reason is not known, but most killer whale pods in Alaska waters are doing well, but the two that swam through the oil spill are not.
At 46 years of age, Egagutak is nearing the end of his lifespan. Killer whale males typically live 45-50 years. The pod also seems to be nearing its end. With no calves being born, this particular pod of killer whale and their unique song will go extinct.
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council was tasked with spending the money from the civil settlement after the oil spill. They have funded the research into the study of the Chugach Transients until this year, when they decided that the council would no longer support the research.
Sources: North Gulf Oceanic Society, University of Alaska Southeast, Alaska Public Media
Jacoby wins Gold
I worked late on Monday, but I arrived home just in time for this:
Lydia Jacoby beat her own career best time, while swimming ahead of the current world record holder, and Olympic record holder, in order to take home the gold medal in the women’s 100 meter breaststroke.
In this case, home is Seward, Alaska.
Alaskans were pumped about Jacoby’s performance in the semifinal, which was 8 tenths of a second slower than her final swim.
Alaskans across the state watched the race, and several hundred fans met at the Seward train depot to catch it on the big screen. Jacoby grew up swimming with the Seward Tsunami Swim Club.
It was the first gold medal in swimming for an Alaskan.
An Alaska through-hike
The idea has been proposed for years: a thru hike from Fairbanks in the Alaskan Interior to Seward on Alaska’s southern coast. The nonprofit, Alaska Trails, really started to push the idea last year, and now the State of Alaska seems interested.
Maybe after the pandemic, Alaska leaders have realized we have put most of our tourist eggs in one cruise ship sized basket. At any rate, support for the 500 mile all-Alaska trail is gaining traction in Juneau.
Most of the proposed trail already exists within the trail system, but there are at least two sections where there is no connection. Money is being earmarked in the state budget to complete those connections.
Personally, I’m in favor of the idea, and not just because it will motivate me to get back in shape to hike the 500 miles. Thru hikes bring in tourism, as the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Coast Trail can attest to, but those tourists are not the cruise ship/tourist bus type of people. It’s a separate subsection that Alaska ironically has never really actively gone after. Our attitude is, “Well, it’s Alaska, and they will come”.
Might as well plant that seed early, and give it some water now and then.
Kenai Fjords National Park
National Park Week, Day IV; Today’s Park Theme: Transformation Tuesday
Kenai Fjords: Where Mountains, Ice and Ocean meet.
Kenai Fjords was first designated a National Monument in 1978. With the passage of ANILCA, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980, Kenai Fjords officially became a National Park.
Kenai Fjords encompasses 669,984 acres, which includes the massive Harding Icefield, which is the source of at least 38 glaciers.
Exit Glacier and the Harding Icefield can be reached from the community of Seward. It’s a short drive from town to the visitor center and trail head. The short and relatively easy trail takes one to the foot of the glacier. Exit is retreating at a pretty good clip, and is now losing ice during all seasons.
The Harding Icefield covers over 700 square miles, and that does NOT include the 38-40 glaciers that spawn from it. The hike past Exit Glacier to the icefield can be described as strenuous, but the view, when clear, is absolutely amazing.
Harding Icefield is one of four remaining in the United States, and the largest that is contained completely within the country. It receives, on average, 400 inches of snow each year.
Much of the Park is only accessible by water, and sea kayaking is a very popular activity. There are many tidewater glaciers that can be reached from Seward.
Two glaciers that I have visited from Seward are: Bear, which is the longest glacier in the Park, and Aialik Glacier, which is a bit more impressive from the water. Bear has receded to the point, that a lake now exists between the ocean and the glacier. The lake is often filled with small icebergs, which makes kayaking interesting. Aialik is a giant ice wall from the water’s surface.
Kenai Fjords National Park received 321,596 visitors in 2018. It is the fourth most visited Park in Alaska, and the closest to the city of Anchorage.