Traveling is so important for overall health and experiencing life! The more cultured you are, the more you can share stories and experiences with friends and family. It can be a great conversation starter as well as help you gain appreciation for your state or country. The world is such a beautiful place, it would be a shame not to see it.
So for my birthday last year, we decided to backpack Alaska for a week!
So here we are getting dropped off at the airport with our camping pads and packs. This was all we took with us. I remember thinking “We have only backpacked the Appalachian Trail for long weekends… I hope we’ll do ok in AK!”
And I have to brag on my DEUTER Women’s Futura Pro 34 SL Backpack … It has been through so much! It is super sturdy, spacious and has done really well through all types of weather. If you are a female looking to backpack a weekend or even a week, this pack is excellent.
As we flew over Canada, I couldn’t help but take a photo of the beautiful snow capped mountains.
Once we landed, we took a cab to a hostel in Anchorage. This was our first experience with a hostel. It is one of the best ways to travel cheap!
It was really neat to see all the mom and pop places to eat and drink local brews. I didn’t notice very many chain restaurants in Anchorage which I loved. Always support the small businesses 🙂
The next morning we got up to board the train and head to Seward. The train was our main source of travel other than walking.
The Alaska Railroad is definitely one of the most scenic ways to travel. I would highly recommend it if you plan to visit AK. You see glaciers, wild life and have very comfortable/spacious seats.
And who doesn’t love trains??
Seward was the only place we did stay in a hotel. I love how in mid-July it is still 60-70 degrees and no air conditioning is needed. All buildings have windows open during the summer and space heaters for the winter. This was a HUGE change from Alabama!
Our first stop in Seward was Resurrection Bay.
Absolutely picturesque. We decided to take a day cruise on the bay and head to Fox Island for a meal. The cruise was great! We got to see all kinds of wild life! From sea otters to whales!
They were the CUTEST things ever!
And I believe the whales were humpback whales.
The day was a little rainy, mostly overcast, but we still had a great time. Fox Island had plenty to eat. The salmon was amazing of course. With it being as overcast/windy during this cruise, it was probably around 50 degrees so a light jacket was appreciated.
As you can see above, Fox Island is beautiful.
The next day in Seward was sunny and cloudless, so off we went to the Kenai Fjords National Park to climb up to the Exit Glacier.
This was almost to the top! It was a 6 mile hike through the Kenai Fjords National Park just to see the Exit Glacier. Elevation was 2, 475 feet and our legs felt every bit of it!
Even in the opposite direction, the view was spectacular. This is my hunny walking out to another viewing area.
Even the hike up was fantastic for viewing. Right after this photo we saw a black bear and her cub off in the distance.
The glacier itself is magnificent to see in real life. It is huge! There are tours you can take that allow you to climb the glacier itself. We decided to view it from afar.
As we hiked up this mountain, we could definitely feel the weight of the packs. But it was super nice to have water on you at all times!
Once we left Seward, we headed back to the hostel and stayed another night before we got back on the train and headed north to Denali. Here are some of the scenic shots I got on the ride up.
This is a great shot of the silt run off from a glacier! Silt contains lots of minerals from the glacier and mountain so it looks very gray and murky.
Another beautiful view on the ride up to Denali.
So once we made it, this was where the real camping began.
We reserved our campsite and set up for the night.
We were right next to running water which was so soothing to listen to while trying to sleep.
Best word of advice *** Bring a sleep mask! In Alaska, it is daylight for about 22 hours of the day. And even in those last 2 hours, the sun is only low in the sky… it is not gone.
And always put your belongings in bear-proof containers! Luckily our camp site provided some bear protection.
So after some sleep, we got up REALLY early to catch the bus out to Denali National Park.
We got to see tons of caribou…
And of course grizzly bears and cubs… I think we counted about 16 for the trip!
And of course the adorable ground squirrels!
The day we ventured into the park, it was a little overcast and chilly. But we could still see the Polychrome Mountains! They are called polychrome due to all the different colors within them.
And of course Mt. McKinley… We went all the way out to Wonder Lake to try to get a glimpse of it and it was just too cloudy!
The mosquitoes were atrocious! Lots of people knew to have mosquito net hats on and cover themselves in layers… I couldn’t believe how terrible they were.
And here is where you would have seen Mt. McKinley had it been a clear day. I believe we were told about 20% of people who visit the area actually get to see the mountain.
Maybe one day in the future we’ll get lucky enough to see it. The one thing about the weather in AK is that it is completely unpredictable. It changes so quickly that there really is no way to know if you will get lucky enough to see this mountain or not.
So after a long day of hiking around the park and riding the hybrid bus (that broke down a good bit) we went back to our tent and crashed for the night. The Thursday morning we woke up, packed up our tent, and took our last stroll through the woods before catching the train back to Anchorage.
After a long evening of trying to sleep with the sunlight and lack of a pillow, we tried to catch a bit more sleep on the train.
When we arrived in Anchorage it was about 8 PM and we decided to walk to town and have some dinner before taking our 7 mile trek back to the airport for our 2AM flight
During our walk to the airport, we saw a really neat airport for seaplanes. We had noticed these airports all over Alaska. I believe 1/3 of Alaskans are pilots.
One thing I thought was interesting on our travels back to Alabama, the Chicago O’Hare airport has an indoor garden which provides local produce and herbs to the restaurants inside. I don’t know why all airports aren’t doing this.
The trip to Alaska was a trip I will never forget. There is so much to do and see, I highly recommend it being on your bucket list. We have every intention to go back and hopefully see Mt. McKinley and do more back country hiking.
It is an experience you will never forget, so take a chance. Explore!