Flight into Anchorage

To try and highlight our Alaskan Adventure of two weeks to one of the most fantastical places on Earth with a few pictures is impossible. Instead, I have chosen a handful of my favorite flora pictures taken the first week while in the southern part of Alaska. I will continue this pictorial adventure in Part II when we head north exploring the Glenn Highway and then finally on to Talkeetna and Denali.

The first view of Alaska came as the plane turned East from high above the Cook Inlet, heading over the coastline to the Anchorage Airport. The view was stunning with range after range of huge, snow covered mountains.

The visual impact of that view and the slow descent into this land of giant glaciers, forest and rivers was emotional. Of course, anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am a lover of all natural things and find beauty at almost every turn whether forest, desert, sea or sky… and yes, I often get teary-eyed.

Alaksa forest

The forests in Alaska rise tall from a thickly carpeted floor of rich earth, mossy wetlands and a host of unusual plants. With each step the ground gives way just a bit, as if you are walking on a springy sponge.

Flora Earthquake Park

The visual feast continued as we walked through Earthquake Park and discovered the most unusual plants like the one pictured above.

Brilliant Fireweed

This pink beauty is the bloom of the Fireweed which inflames the sides of many roadways, paths and forests. In late August the air becomes full of cotton-like wisps as the plant prepares for the oncoming winter. We were told that when you see the cotton it’s a signal that winter is only six-weeks away.

Orange button mushroom from above

There are many unusual varieties of mushrooms in the Alaskan forests looking like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book with colors of vibrant orange, yellow and even pink! We learned that they could be poisonous if eaten in large numbers and that many have a hallucinogenic effect. We did not eat them but did regret not having a mushroom identification book with us!

Prickly plant

At every turn there were more unique plants. With the tiny spikes on the end of the thick leaves, this plant looked like it belonged in the deserts of the Southwest.

Seward highway 3

There are few views in Alaska that do not include mountains rising to amazing heights!  Many have huge glaciers carving their way through the rock and creating spectacular scenes.

Under the glacier

We hiked to the Exit Glacier, which is one arm of the giant Harding Icefield located in the Kenai Mountains of the Kenai Peninsula. It was so cool to see under the edge of the glacier.

Glaciers are not just frozen snow or frozen water. They are full of rocks, dirt and ancient organic matter. They appear blue because the dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue, so we only see blue.

Seward highway 4

We will never forget our time on the Kenai Peninsula! It was an educational and immensely satisfying experience.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour.  It is just a small part of what is Alaska so stay tuned for more to come next week.


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