Friday, October 14, 2016
Despite this fear of job security and having “too much to do” we put off going on vacation or having too much fun. However, we should be looking to spend our time more wisely or we will miss out on some important things in life. Obviously we do need to work and we can’t always just pick things up and take off for two weeks, but we need to experience vacation.
Posted by betchai at 7:56 PM
Friday, August 05, 2016
Bears at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park
some sights from our stay in Valdez, AK
Glaciers and Wildlife in Valdez, AK
Hiking at Lion's Head, Matanuska Valley
Root Glacier Hike, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK ( unguided )
Last 2011, on our first time to Alaska, we did the guided glacier hike on Matanuska Glacier. Our guide did very well in teaching us how to hike safely on ice, that we felt confident that we could do it on our own applying all the safety procedures she shared, and perhaps, be even more conservative. After our first guided hike last 2011, we decided to get some gears for icy hiking, which we also used for winter hiking in the mountains. Our very first unguided glacier hike was in Canada 2014. Then, on this trip, we did several glacier hikes on our own.
What I like most about unguided glacier hiking is that I'm free to go where I want to, I can spend more time for photography, and I'm free to look for features I wanted to see. It may take us more time to look for interesting features, but I believe it adds more to the fun of being able to explore on our own, SAFELY, of course.
1. Stay at a hostel
A hostel is a popular place for people to stay who are on a very limited travel budget. Young people who are in college will frequently stay in hostels. You will need to carefully consider this option because the conditions in a hostel will not be satisfactory for everyone. It is common for people to have to share a bathroom with complete strangers. Also, security is a concern because many thefts occur in hostels. However, a hostel might be the right choice for you if there is somewhere that you really need to go and you have a very small amount of money.
2. Stay at a person's home
This is also becoming a popular choice for travelers who are on a budget. There are many websites like KomfortStay.com that connect people who want to rent their rooms with travelers. The prices that the owners charge are usually much less than you would pay to stay for the same number of nights at a regular hotel. This is an option that is worth looking into if you can find a person who has a suitable room for rent in a city that you want to visit. Always remember to ask if meals are included with the price of the room.
3. Book a hotel far in advance
Staying in a hostel or in a stranger's home may not be options that appeal to you. If this is the case, you should book your hotel room many months in advance. Hotels will usually give you a significant discount if you do this. However, the amount of the discount will vary depending on the hotel you choose. Therefore, you should call many hotels.
Posted by betchai at 8:40 AM
Sunday, July 31, 2016
When we were in Valdez, we usually started our day with a light breakfast, then, we would go to Solomon Gulch for some bird ( mostly bald eagles ) photography.
Bald Eagle, Valdez, Alaska
By 8:30 am, we would leave the area to have our heavier breakfast to fuel our major activities of the day, such as hiking and kayaking.
One of those mornings, we were surprised by a grizzly bear. We saw some kids running on the road following the bear as the bear crossed the road to go down to the water. We were at the other side of the stream. The sight of kids running followed by adults was scary since that is one of the biggest no-no when you see a bear, "DON'T RUN", or you'll scare/surprise the bear. That's when bears may attack humans, for offense is their defense.
However, the bear didn't mind the running kids and some adults at all. The bear just continued to go down to the water.
|Grizzly Bear, Valdez, Alaska|
The bear was made very busy by flocking sea gulls blocking her way to the water. She would shoo the sea gulls to clear her way to the water to get salmon. She'd finish one salmon very quickly then go back to the water to get another one.
Why do the bears in Valdez and other coastal areas do not mind humans at all, unlike the bears in inland mountains? Because of so many salmons. In between us and the bear, was a stream overcrowded by salmons, where it seemed very easy for the bears and sea lions to get their food.
The sea gulls? They most of the time flock around sea lions and bears to feast on their left overs. Perhaps, another reason why bears do not mind humans at all at the other side of the shore is because the sea gulls are too much for them already to shoo away so they can enjoy their fish.
Surface of Exit Glacier
The trail to Exit Glacier is only a 1 mile loop, though it has uphill/downhill slope, but not as steep nor as rocky as Harding Icefield trail making the walk a lot smoother and easier. In just a matter of minutes from the trailhead, you will be face to face with a glacier.
A Stream of Water Falling From the Melting of Glacier
Like many of the low altitude glaciers, Exit Glacier is steadily melting.You will hear the sound of the many waterfalls falling from the melting of ice when you come close to a glacier. The Exit Glacier has shrank 2 miles for the past 200 years.
If you are planning for a trip to Alaska, I really highly recommend putting Seward where Kenai Fjords National Park is in your list to visit. If you are physically fit and won't give up on physical and mental challenge, the hike to Harding Icefield is really out of this world and very mentally, emotionally and spiritually rewarding. However, if you think you cannot make it to Harding Icefield, the easy to moderate 1 mile loop hike to Exit Glacier is still very much worth it.
Unlike the trail to Harding Icefield, the trail to Exit Glacier is almost free of rocks and snow during summer, and can be accessed even by some with disabilities. I am always happy to see this kind of trail since it allows and opens up our natural world to others who may not be able to take strenuous hikes because of physical reasons or because of having little babies in the family.
One of the Many Tubes at Exit Glacier
The Exit Glacier shows many hollow tubes, and for me, these are the natural warning signs that we take extra pre-caution when we are in front or hiking in a glacier. The glacier is unsteady and parts of it can crumble anytime. Some may get tempted to have a picture inside the tube, but what if the ice above crash and you get buried? I have seen and heard a glacier crumbled, it is a phenomena that I will never forget. It is both inspiring and sad. Inspiring to see how nature carved the Earth and sad to observe how everything on Earth is temporary.
In my next posts, I will show the other side of Harding Icefield.
Exit Glacier from Harding Icefield Trail
At the other side of this 4000 ft thick of ice and 700 square miles of icefield is the ocean. It is kind of hard to imagine that this vast mountain of ice sits right next to the sea, and everyday is changing.