Snowy Range Pass

Snowy Range Pass

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Valdez and Prince William Sound



Our lodge in Copper Center sits at the edge of the largest National Park and Preserve managed by the Park Service in all of the USA- Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park.  It is a truly vast wilderness all on its own.  Unfortunately, we were not going to be seeing much of it, as our limited time here was going to be spent traveling to Valdez  for a boat tour of Prince William Sound.  I would venture that most folks know this area from the grounding of the Exxon Valdez tanker just off the harbor. This caused an oil spill of national significance and changed the way the transportation of oil was regulated.  The new rules, referred to as OPA 90, was the largest regulatory project ever. It certainly consumed a lot of the Coast Guard's and my time developing and enforcing these standards.

We did make one quick stop on the way to Valdez to view Mount Billy Mitchell, named  in honor of Lt William Mitchell, who is considered to be the father of the modern US Air force.



Valdez continues as the end point of the Alaskan pipeline, where all the oil from the fields arrives for pick up by the steady stream of tank ships coming and going.  For such an important port, it remains a small and scenic town where fishing and tourism are also important to the economy.






But now we were on a pleasant outing to view the beauty of the glaciers in Columbia Bay and enjoy the abundance of wildlife  along the way.  We were again fortunate to have perfect weather for our outing.  Since we managed to observe all of the expected wildlife that was likely to be seen on the tour, I wanted to make this first Valdez post just about these sightings. We were again told by the boat crew how lucky we were.  The last few cruises had seen little to no wildlife and had a poor view of the scenery.

     There were hundreds of these Sea Otters drifting in the ice packs.




We saw the black bear running uphill at the very top of the mountain and this one of the few in focus shots I got of her at the long range straight uphill.
    This was one of a number of Bald Eagles patrolling the bay this day.

Seeing these mountain goats is apparently very special and this is only the second one we have so far.













12 comments:

Donna W. said...

love the pics

Gypsy said...

The water is so beautiful. Glad you had good weather and visibility - your pictures are great.

Rick Doyle said...

What a great trip. You sure managed to get great photos of a variety of wildlife. I really liked the bear one!

Fred W. H. said...

Your photo's are better than National Geographic's! Wow!

Fred W. H. said...

Wow, your photo's are great!

Erin Erkun said...

Fantastic outing ... and seeing all the wildlife makes it so much better. We've not been able to squeeze Valdez and the Columbia Glacier into the two trips we've taken to Alaska ... so many places to explore.

where's weaver said...

What a grand day of sightseeing you two had. I am just loving all the gorgeous photos.

Glad I am seeing Alaska through you eyes. It is beautiful.

Jerry and Suzy said...

Congratulations on seeing that much wildlife on your tour. We saw a bunch of them on our tour, but not quite as many. Good pictures, too. For the long shots, did you have a tripod, or were your hands really that steady?

Sherry said...

Wow is all I can say. What a fantastic trip you are having. These pictures are terrific. Sure wish I were along on this ride.

Paul and Marti Dahl said...

Great pictures! Wonderful to see how nature has bounced back after the Exxon Valdez.

Randy and Pam Warner said...

Beautiful pictures!
Lots of great scenery and wildlife. Nice to see that kind of thing after so many years of the mess with Exxon that will always be linked to Valdez.

Peter + Beatrix said...

ALASKA --- just the name fills me with anticipation. It has the feel of untoched wilderness and yet so much has been developed. Great pics!