ALASKA – If Life Gives You A Mountain…Put On Your Boots and Hike.

My big trip for 2019 was one for the books!   This year I headed up to Alaska to visit my dear friend Amanda (previous adventures with this gal include roadtripping from Denver to Salt Lake City and living the life in San Fran, to name a couple).  Amanda has been living in Anchorage for over a year now and I was oh so excited to finally go visit.

Side note – If I had one piece of advice when planning a trip to Alaska, it would be to book it early!  When originally planning to go last summer, looking at flights 1-3 months in advance, they were well over $1000 and had at least 2 connecting flights, super lengthly layovers and/or flights that were overnight (not the greatest if you can’t sleep on a plane).  This year, I booked my June trip in January and was able to find a great round trip flight for under $900 with a 2 hour layover via Vancouver on the way there and a 5 hour layover via Vancouver on the way back.

The beauty about flying in to Alaska in the daytime, is the beautiful view of the mountains that you have from above.

Flying Above Mountains

I flew into Anchorage,  which is Alaska’s largest city.  One of the first things we did was to head downtown and grab some homemade Alaskan ice cream from a place called Wild Scoops (you need to get the waffle cone if you go here!), sooooooo good!!

On my second day in Alaska, we headed down one of the main highways leading out of Anchorage towards Seward for a hike at Kenai Fjords National Park  (views upon views along this highway!).

At Kenai Fjords National Park, you have a couple options to hike to see great views of the Exit glacier.  The chill, short and flat hike that will take you very close to the base via the Glacier Overlook Loop Trail…

or via the Harding Ice Field Trail, which is much longer and definitely more strenuous depending on how high you want to hike up.  We made it up to the ‘top of the cliff’ viewpoint but needed to end at that point as we had been hiking through knee deep snow for a while and the snow just kept getting deeper the higher that we climbed.

Kenai Fjords National Park Map

Despite, our cold and wet feet, the view was absolutely astounding.  From up here all you could hear was the wind (Lesson learned:  always pack a second pair of shoes and socks that you can leave in the car and put on after to make feet dry and happy again 🙂 )

Kenai Fjords National Park Mountain Views

A second stunning view from up here is also a closer view of the Exit Glacier.

Coming back down can either be done via sliding your way down (quicker but can be tricker, depends on how dry you want to be by the time you return to your car) or taking the safer and drier one step at a time option.

For dinner we went to Sea Salt Alaskan Grill and Bar in Seward for clam chowder (a.k.a chowda), the patio view didn’t disappoint here either, also their Halibut is probably the best I have tasted in my somewhat meagre experience eating fresh fish.

Seward is a very cute touristy town filled with lots of shops so had the chance to grab some souvenirs here.

By day three, I was already pretty impressed with the landscape of this great state but it was about to get kicked up another notch as we headed to Independence Mine State Historical Park,  an old abandoned mining town, now a historical piece of history.

Despite the park being closed when we went, it was still accessible to visitors and not too far away from the main parking lot.

The views here were amazing and it was pretty cool walking through the town, even right up to the entrance of the mine.

Alot of the buildings are falling into disrepair but the land is still kept up in a way that allows visitors to safely see everything.

This abandoned mining town is part of an area known as Hatcher Pass where there are also many trails to hike along.

After walking through the mine area, we chose to do a 6mi hike along the Gold Mint Trail and of course remembered to bring our bear spray!

Running into a bear or moose while hiking in Alaska is very common so to make sure we were safe on every big hike in the wilderness, we took bear spray with us.

Again, another jaw drop moment in Alaska, surrounded by mountains on this trail…

Dinner that evening was at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. and luckily for us, Tuesday night was taco night!

Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

By day 4, we had done ALOT of hiking so a rest day was just what we needed and this also happened to be the day Amanda had a couple friends coming in from Owen Sound, Ontario to visit and also her boyfriend returning from working in northern Alaska.

Now what is one of the best things to do when taking a rest day?? Eating and drinking of course!

Ok so before the whole eating and drinking, it may not have been a complete rest day.  We started the day off with a a little walk in Kincaid park to search for moose and bears (ya, you read that right, we went looking for dangerous wildlife!).  This place is popular for mountain biking and cross country skiing and while we hadn’t had any excitement seeing any wildlife on our previous hikes, this was one place Amanda had definitely seen some at before.  Unfortunately for us, we only heard what could possibly have been a moose or bear breaking twigs deeper in the trees beyond the trails.  No actual sightings!

After no luck at seeing wildlife, we had lunch at a place called SnoFlo where we grabbed a quick bite which included poke bowls and shaved ice.

From here, more food!  We travelled over to the Rustic Goat for some beer and nacho’s on the patio (yes, patio!  When I got back, almost everyone asked me how the weather was in Alaska, expecting it to be much chillier than here. In fact it was pretty much the same weather as Ontario, about 15-19 degrees celsius in late spring).

The Rustic Goat

After hanging out drinking and munching, we swung by the airport to grab a few more members to join our crew and headed to another amazing patio at 49th State Brewery (yes, alot of eating and basically putting back on what I had hiked off the previous two days).

49th State Brewing Company

I was lucky enough to stay with Amanda the first few nights of my visit but with the few new members joining our crew, after our patio feast, I headed over with a couple of them to check into our cozy AirBnB (literally like a home away from home).

On Thursday we were back at adventuring.  Amanda booked us a chartered boat tour for the day with Tidewater Tours (she previously had done a tour with them and loved it!).  We had an awesome day with our tour guide Gabe who picked us up at the docks in a small town called  Whittier (If going to Whittier from Anchorage you need to go through a one way mountain tunnel.  The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in North America.  Since it’s only open each way on the hour, look ahead for schedules!)

Seriously…. just when I thought Alaska blew my mind….it did it again!

First stop on our tour was Blackstone Glacier.

Shortly after stopping there we were on our way again and we had a few porpoises tag along with us!

After spending a while waiting and hoping we’d get to see a whale that we just saw go under come back up, we heard a strange cannon sound in the distance.  We looked over and couldn’t believe it but a few minutes boat ride away we saw a whale jumping up and down!  We immediately zoomed over and got the best show anyone has probably seen in this area in a long time…

*jaw dropping again*

We finished the day by doing some fishing and were able to catch quite a few fish (including a red snapper) that Gabe, our tour guide so nicely cleaned and packaged up for us to take home to cook up for dinner!

Alaska Fishing

After such an awesome day, what better way to cap it off then with a yummy dinner!  Not too far from our Airbnb was a joint called Moose’s Tooth (bonus – they brew their own beer!).  It’s kinda funny, the decor and atmosphere reminded me like a place that exists in Toronto called ‘The Spaghetti Factory,’ the only real difference being that Moose’s Tooth’s main dish is pizza as opposed to pasta.

To continue our day of adventuring, we went to a champagne and oyster bar in the downtown core called the Bubbly Mermaid  (If you ask real nice, they’ll pop the cork off your champagne bottle with sword).

and ended off our day with a beauuuuuuuuutiful view of the sun setting at 11:30pm at night.  Yup, you read that correctly, during the summer Alaska has almost 24 hours of daylight (so pretty much everyone that lives there owns blackout curtains).

Finished off my last day in Alaska, in the best way.  A hike up the most climbed mountain in the state, Flattop mountain.

Flattop Mountain

A bit of a steep climb near the end but the views do not disappoint!

Flattop Mountain

With a full view of Anchorage from up here!

Can never get tired of views like this *jaw drop yet again*

Suffice to say that I came back absolutely exhausted from this trip but at the same time completely inspired, grateful and a quite in awe of Alaska.  The landscape was absolutely stunning, the food and beer top notch, and memories to definitely last a lifetime.  This place is for sure on my list of places to go back to.

Until my next adventure!

🖤JS

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