The Portage Valley sits at the east end of the Turnagain Arm. At its head is the famous Portage Glacier (shown above), so-named in 1898 because it served as a portage from Prince William Sound to the Turnagain Arm. Gold prospectors would land in the ice-free port at Whittier, then haul all their men and supplies up over the mountain across Portage Glacier, which is crazy when you think of how dangerous glacier travel can be.
The Begich/Boggs Visitor Center was built in 1986 on the west end of Portage Lake with a dramatic view of the Portage Glacier as it spilled into the lake. Unfortunately just seven short years later, the toe of the Portage Glacier had retreated all the way back behind the base of the mountain and is no longer visible from the Visitor Center. Ooops!
On one of the many cloudy and cold days, we visited the Byron Glacier. There was a large snow field below the glacier where kids were sledding.
There was a large crack in the snow field that we walked through to see the fast-running glacial stream. One is advised to never walk below an overhanging snow wall because it can collapse at any time, so we spent only a few anxious moments here. The dogs really enjoyed running and playing in the snow.
We could only see the lower, brilliant blue portion of the Byron Glacier because the rest was obscured by clouds. Click on the image for a larger version and see if you can spot the people hiking across the snow field toward the toe of the glacier.
And here’s what the Byron Glacier looks like on a clear, sunny day. We try to not let bad weather bother us, but good weather does make a tremendous difference in what we can see, our experience and our mood.
There are dozens of glaciers visible in Portage Valley including the Explorer Glacier, shown above.
We dispersed camp next to Tangle Pond. Some of the best things in life are free, and that includes camping spots on our trip.
When the sky cleared, we were rewarded with a spectacular view outside our RV windows of the Chugach Mountains reflecting over Tangle Pond.