5:45am We are up and getting ready.  We will have breakfast in the hotel restaurant then take a walk in the rainforest with Justin.  Also we have to drop off our laundry at the front desk so it will be done when we get back from our river float trip. 7:05am Done with breakfast.  It was a very nice buffet.  We have just started our short (~1.5 miles) walk with Justin. There is no permafrost here and the trees are not white or black spruce, but have been replaced by the Sitka Spruce.  Plants to watch out for:  Cow Parsnip & Devil’s Club. 7:14am Mini-Orchid.  Fast growing, many plants. 7:18am A small footbridge over a small creek.  Justin took us here to practice with our exposures.  Moving water, depth of field, points of interest. 7:37am Also Horsetail, closely related to ferns on the side of the trail. 7:45am Black Bear scat on the trail.  Finally the definitive answer to the age old question…  Does a bear…. 7:48am Dwarf Dogwood.  They make berries that the animals love.  Also much larger blueberry plant now that we are south of the permafrost. 7:50am Nursery tree (dead fallen tree that decays and other plants start to grow on) gave start to a Sitka Spruce (left) and a Western Hemlock (right).  Also saw Old Man’s Beard, a lichen. 7:55am Salmonberry.  Look like very large raspberries.  And Watermelon Berry, tastes like Watermelon. 8:00am Justin poses on boardwalk section of trail. 8:08am More Old Man’s Beard, a lichen, and trying to get photos of a Red Squirrel. 8:13am Clearing caused by avalanche about 30 years ago. The group divides.  Justin, Barbara & John head back to the lodge and the rest of the group heads to a waterfall at the end of the trail. We see a female Pine Grosbeak. 8:30am Sow Black Bear and three cubs on the resort grounds.  People came from everywhere to see and photograph the bears.  The Tram even stopped over the area so the people inside could see them.  Someone from the resort was quick to show up and to control the people. 11:53am Back from the morning walk.  We showered and dressed and are taking it easy. 12:50pm We left the hotel about 12:30 and are now eating our box lunch on the bus heading for a remote train depot.  Lunch was a wrap, either turkey or club, a huge chocolate chip cookie, bag of potato chips and an orange. 1:10pm At the depot we all got boots to protect us from the water on the float ride.  We are now waiting for the train. 1:30pm The train arrived and we are all on board and on our way to our next adventure. 2:25pm The train stopped in the middle of nowhere at what is called a ‘Whistle Stop’.  We all left our boots and backpacks on the train as it continued on to the next stop then returned for us.  We got in a van and rode to the PFD issue shed. We are now getting our safety briefing from Emily and Erin.  The lake is a glacial lake and the water temp is around 34 - 36⁰F plus the glacier can make its own weather and tends to whip up the wind. We were split into 2 rafts.  Emily was the guide in the other raft with Ari, Howard, Carol, Charlene and Justin.  Erin was our guide with Chris, Milton, Barbara and John. 2:31pm We just got in the raft and Erin is rowing her arms off.  Against a fairly stiff head wind as she takes us closer to the glacier.  We are on Spencer Lake, looking at Spencer Glacier. 2:36pm We are right next to one of the icebergs that calved off the glacier but is so large that it is actually stuck on the bottom of the lake. 2:40pm Views of Spencer Glacier.  That front edge of the glacier is about 50 feet tall.  The closest we get is about ¼ mile away.  Notice how blue the ice looks. 3:02pm Barbara eats a chunk of ice thousands of years old from the glacier. We get some nice photos of Spencer Glacier and the lake. 3:15pm We have just entered Placer River, which we will take to the take out at the train whistle stop.  The color of the river is a dull gray.  That is from all the silt or glacial flour which is ground up rock.  The river is full of it so that makes me wonder how much rock is flowing down stream each day. Soon after we enter the Placer River we see a bridge.  The Placer River pedestrian bridge is 280 feet long.  Completed in 2013 there is a foot path from the Spencer Lake train stop to the Luebner Lake whistle stop passing through some remote areas of the Chugach National Forest. 3:31pm The river has cut thru some of the terrain exposing thick layers of volcanic ash and a very thin layer of soil and plant life.  Amazing that any of the plants can survive these conditions. 3:57pm Signs that there were beavers in the area.  The lodge has plants growing from it, so they are no longer living there.  Gnawed trees and saplings prove they were here not long ago. 4:24pm The take-out is in sight. 4:28pm We are out of our boat. 4:30pm The other boat has landed. 4:45pm The train arrives. 5:00pm We are on the train heading back to where we got on. 5:36pm  We are on a bus that will take us back to the Alyeska Resort. 6:00pm We have arrived, safe and sound, back at the resort. 6:15pm We are back in our room and we retrieved our, now clean, laundry.  $40 total for 2 good sized bags of clothes.  Washed, dried and folded.  Not bad at all.  Now are about to do a walk around the resort grounds. 6:38pm Purple and white Foxglove.  Orange flowers are unknown… Barbara has asked and so far can’t ID them.  Blue Himalayan Poppies.  Pioneer on a horse.  Pink and white Foxglove.  Little squirrel poses nicely for some photos. 7:04pm Sitting by an outside firepit, gas/propane, fired.  Pretty but not really cold out. 7:16pm Back in the room.  Tonight dinner is on our own.  We have been hoarding snacks and treats just in case we got hungry along the way.  But we are so well fed on this tour there was never a chance to eat any of them.  Well, instead of going out to find a place to eat we are going to stay in the room, pack and eat some of the food we have saved.
July 26, 2017: Day 8
“Leave only footprints, Take only memories’ (…and maybe some pictures)
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Alaska Vacation
July 19, 2017 to August 2, 2017 The Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Photo Safari Barbara & John on Natural Habitat Adventures
July 26, 2017 Day 8
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