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Whittier Tunnel and a Hike to Portage Pass

Monday, July 2, 2007

overcast 0 °F

Gloomy day, so we take our time getting ready and then take a short drive to Whittier. To get to Whittier we need to drive through the Whittier Tunnel. It’s a 2.5 mile long, one-lane tunnel that is used by trains and cars. When the train is not using the tunnel, cars can travel east on the half-hour and west on the hour. We get there 15 minutes early and wait in line for the tunnel to open to traffic going east. It’s a long, narrow tunnel with train tracks to drive over. Unique.
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We walk around Whittier. It’s a kind of drab town surrounded by beautiful scenery. There are several glaciers visible from the town; all the mountains have waterfalls running down the sides, and the mountains are bright green from the grass and many of them still have snow on the top.

We stop at the Orca Café for lunch. We had salmon for dinner last night, but one can never have too much fresh salmon and I order a fresh salmon sandwich for lunch—broiled with sliced veggies—very good! We sit at the window of the café and enjoy the view of the harbor. It’s still overcast and very windy, so we sit inside to keep warm and dry.
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After lunch we take a hike up the mountain for a incredible view of the Whittier harbor on one side of the mountain (there's a Princess Cruiseliner at the one dock)
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and an even more incredible view of the Portage Glacier on the other side of the mountain. It sprinkles occasionally on the way up but stops before we reach the top and the view is just breath-taking. The pictures do not begin to show how beautiful it is at the top of the mountain.
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To get a perspective on how large the glacier is: there is a lake at the base of the glacier in the photo above and there is a large tour boat in the lake.

We stay at the top of the mountain enjoying the view of the glacier for about an hour. There are also 3 playful marmots 100 feet below us that we enjoy watching. And of course there are beautiful wildflowers along the trail.
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We hike back down the mountain, wait our turn to go back through the tunnel, and then make a stop at Moose Flats (unfortunately we don't see any moose) before returning the campground for the evening.
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After dinner we roast some marshmallows and have s'mores for dessert. Jere and I each have FOUR s'mores, so we walk around the campground several times for exercise. The Williwaw campground is very nice. It has a glacier on the mountain behind it and the clouds have finally lifted enough to see it. Very pretty blue hues in the glacier.
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Posted by jengelman 13:39 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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Comments

Wow!! I can't believe someone else has been to Whittier. That tunnel is unique, to say the least. I remember having to time our exit appropriately to avoid the train. I did some sea kayaking around there several years ago - the glaciers are amazing!! Thanks for bringing back the memories...

I always remember the locals' comment about the weather, since it's always overcast/rainy - "The weather is always shittier in Whittier." hahahaha

by willwn

About how much time does it take to hike the Portage Pass trail, say from the cruise ship depot? I will go to Whittier next month and we might have about one hour or two around the town. Just wonder if that provides enough time.

by venturer

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