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Valdez, the town of the forgotten territory of Spain in Alaska

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Yes, you read well, even in the northernmost point of the planet there are Spanish place-names. Valdez is today an Alaskan town nestled between mountains with perishable snow peaks in a Prince William Sound entree of deep blue waters, surrounded by glaciers and wildlife. It may not be the prettiest but if the tourist is calm and peaceful, very different from the tourist Seward of the cruises. What we did not expect, although it does not surprise us after knowing the expertise of our Spanish navigators centuries ago in the trip through the South Seas, is that a Lleida navigator named Fildalgo was the one who gave rise to this place (and nearby Cordova) when he took possession of the territory there by 1790 framed in the Expeditions of Spain in the Pacific Northwest


Before, the mythical Richardson Highway it opens between stone canyons and large gorges showing us an almost unreal road with waterfalls and places taken from another world.

The mythical Richardson Highway between glaciers, gorges and waterfalls

Gone are the days we woke up at 6 in the morning. Perhaps the fact that some mosquito that slipped through us yesterday with the doors open on the Old Glenn Highway (we get confused) has given us the night until the hunt we started at dawn may have something to do. The fact is that after having a quiet breakfast, today We started the march around 8.40, after leaving our strategic accommodation past Nelchina, just 30 miles from Glennallen.


If yesterday was the scenic Glenn Highway or the musk ox from the Ice Age, the great attractions of the day, today was not going to be left behind.

ITINERARY AND SUMMARY OF THE DAY:

The Richardson Highway has been the road of the day taking us to Valdez with stops as interesting as the Worthington Glacier or the Bridal Veil and Horsetail waterfalls (+ Google Maps with all the detailed stops)


Distance traveled: 184 miles
Hotel recommendation (for car + hotel travelers): Best Western Valdez Harbor Inn

Glenallen is not a town that deserves too much mention beyond having the honor of being the intersection of two of Alaska's most important highways. Well, I lie, those daring who dare with a winter route can enjoy here the famous 300-mile dog sled race in the Copper Basin. In our case we have not stopped. Yes we have done it in a viewpoint that introduces us a bit on the railway line built in times of the gold rush of 1898 in Alaska, the famous Copper River (now more for fishing for its red salmon) and the area we were going through




We are already for the Mythical Richardson Highway, a 368-mile-long highway (592 kilometers) that links Fairbanks with Valdez (or better vice versa since the miles are counted backwards) that Glenallen enters one of the most spectacular routes that exist in the country, full of canyons, gorges, glaciers, waterfalls and multiple stops overlooking the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve that we left on our left (and on which we will return)



It is difficult to transmit in a few lines but, practically alone on the road, it is at this moment when we feel again the real Alaska, the deepest, the one in which you lose the rest of the route to the mobile coverage and the mountains make your way to feel the wildest nature.




Stop after stop, we are now just 30 miles from Valdez but an ice giant stands on the road over the horizon. Its about Worthington Glacier and it is exactly at mile 28.7 of the Richardson Highway where it emerges most imposing with two great glacial tongues before entering the Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site




After the interpretation center where it is usual to read reviews of its retreat, as in many other glaciers of our era, we take a path that takes us to an observation platform. The problem arises when one realizes that it is no longer useful because the glacier tongue can only be sensed in the distance. It is seen that at the time it was useful but today you have to skirt it, at your own risk, and walk among the remains of the old moraine left by the glacier



Stones, sand, mud and everything that has left the intense erosion of the tongue gets between us and the ice although the flow of water has left small lakes that today leave a beautiful landscape behind us.




We return to the Richardson Highway, leaving paths on the sides that go to multiple points of interest to trek through unique places. This is the case of Blueberry Lake (mile 24.1) but the impressive thing starts 16 miles from Valdez when the road barely finds space for cross huge gorges. It is the Keystone canyon that has left even old tunnels dug with "blood, sweat and tears" in the heat of gold and that today are used for more daring activities



We do not travel a kilometer (mile 13.9) and we both shout the magic words again ... STOP, STOP, STOP! They are waterfalls to the left of the road called Bridal Veil waterfalls by the form of "bridal veil" that form when falling ...




... although it is half a mile ahead on the right (mile 13.4), with a wide paved siding, the ones that most impress us with its jump of more than 330 feet, the calls horsetail waterfalls or "horsetail" that come from melted ice and flows into the Lowe River after disappearing under the road



So many stops have made us hungry so we will take a small detour before entering the village of Valdez

Solomon Gulch Hatchery, a fancy restaurant ... for bears!

We had targeted from Spain that before arriving in Valdez, taking the Dayville Road for a few miles, you can reach a somewhat special location called Solomon Gulch Hatchery or something like a salmon farm. Also here is the famous 1287 km Trans-Alaska or Alyeska Oil Pipeline whose pipes run from Prudhoe Bay to the northern Arctic end of the state.

Solomon Gulch Hatchery was built in 1981 for the breeding of red salmon, always under the supervision of the State of Alaska, but its current figures are dizzy since they are capable of incubating 250 million red salmon and 2 million Coho salmon every year and allows a walking tour without a guide throughout the summer (open daily)


And why does this place have something special that does not have another salmon farm? This is Alaska ... and in Alaska there are bears. When the hatchery has the gate of the creek that goes to the mountains closed (which would be the natural way of salmon), they agglomerate to such an extent at its mouth waiting for access that are easy prey for bald eagles, seals and bears, in addition to all kinds of scavengers, which has made it a tourist place par excellence, already has ample parking for visitors



The show has to be amazing, there are even warning signs because, despite the abundance of food, these bears are still wild and aggressive animals. However, we are still in June and the first salmon are coming, which does not save them from some hustler hunter waiting for you


We, after a while without losing the illusion of seeing some black bear (the one that we lack), we end up giving up and taking advantage to eat in the motorhome

SOLOMON GULCH HATCHERY IN JULY, AUGUST and SEPTEMBER: From the arrival of the salmon, the whole scenario that surrounds this fish farm changes and the "party begins" (PHOTOS taken from Tripadvisor and the blog Akonthego)



It is at that moment when the bears come down to stick their feast and you have to be more careful. Take precautions!




Of course, the best scenes of the show require patience and a bit of luck.

From Solomon Gulch Hatchery to Valdez you have to undo part of the road but there are barely 10 miles. As the parking lot clearly states that they do not allow overnight, we take the opportunity to look at sidings for the night and some look very good.

Valdez, the town of the forgotten territory of Spain in Alaska

We said it in the introduction and we saw it from the other side of the strait,Valdez is a small Alaskan fishing village nestled between mountains in a Prince William Sound entree of waters of an intense blue, surrounded by glaciers and wildlife and, in addition, very calm and calm.



What we did not expect is that the Spanish toponym of Valdez and the nearby Cordova at such a northern point of the planet came from a Spanish past thanks to those known as Expeditions of Spain in the Pacific Northwest sent by King Carlos III and successors between 1774 and 1793 to the shores of present-day Canada and Alaska. This time it was the Lleida Salvador Fidalgo in 1790 who founded the old city of Valdez which was devastated by an earthquake in 1964, the current one we are walking through right now is about 6 miles away.

DECISIONS ON THE MARCH:

For the first time on the trip we have not agreed on something. Tomorrow's boat tour does not have a defined duration but we know that around 17 or 18 we will be back so we will climb the Richarson Highway to where we arrive. The discussion stems from the possibilities we have of going to McCarthy and Kennicott. We both agree that taking an Air-Taxi and an accommodation is an absurd expense having a motorhome but McCarthy Road causes fear for its condition. I think I have read that it had improved a lot but Sele believes, and she is right, that our vehicle is bigger and heavier than other caravans and on top of that the insurance would not cover us. Do we arrive in Chitina and decide as we see it? Tomorrow we will continue to meditate

Any resemblance to the touristSeward that we knew the day before yesterday is pure coincidence because, for starters, here cruise ships do not arrive which makes the fishing life of the town take much more prominence. Also, today we are lucky because some have just arrived good halibut pieces, the same one we knew in Homer, the fishing capital of halibutby excellence, besides salmon and some other species




This is used by seagulls and white-headed eagles that congregate to wait for the waste that is cut right there.

A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO "CAZAR" EL ÁGUILA DE CABEZA BLANCA:

One of the most precious photos that a traveler can take in Alaska is the beautiful white-headed eagle. In Valdez there is an opportunity to see it very close, without the need for large telephoto lenses, since almost every day around 17'00 or 17'30, when fishermen arrive, they say that a person feeds them in an esplanade inside the RV Park Bayside

The rest of the small town is made up of activities and excursion agencies, bars and restaurants. From here you can do a great kayak throughout Prince William Sound or the Columbia Glacier (which we regret not doing since it is one of the most congregation of icebergs and the experience of kayaking in Tasiusaq Bay in Greenland I thought it was the best I've done in my life), fishing trips and, fundamentally, boat tours.



We booked ours 2 days ago. Like to choose the Kenai Fjords N.P. cruise in Seward In Valdez there are also different travel options and companies (all about our decision we will tell you tomorrow). Here the dichotomy occurs between the Stan Stephens and Lu-Lu Belle cruises but as soon as we met the familiar nature of the latter as well as his much smaller ship, no doubt.


Although the boat trip leaves every day at 11'00 which would have given us time to change our reservation for the tickets tomorrow, we have taken the opportunity to know the house that makes office that with such love have decorated and runs the wife of Captain Fred, his wife Megan



The rest of the afternoon we took the opportunity to refuel (106 USD) and be ready to go out tomorrow, walk around the port and continue discovering charming corners, assess options to hit us a good dinner tribute (we have ruled out The Habour Café without too much charm, Fu Kung for overly expensive and someone else) and have a beer (9 USD) while we look up at a "hysterical" seagull because a bald eagle has perched on its nest (and stolen eggs?)




Our choice for dinner has been the Roma Restaurant (53.10 USD), a simple Italian with good views of the harbor but that has helped us to give ourselves that treat of eating out for a day. We may not have too many opportunities



Some last photos make farewell to another wonderful day in motorhome in Alaska before look for a location on the outskirts where to spend the night on the other side of the bay Road to Solomon Gulch Hatchery. Tomorrow you don't have to get up early ...


Isaac (with Sele), from Valdez (Alaska)

EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 168.10 USD (approx 152.82 EUR)

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