The fastest and most direct connection from Whittier to Valdez, the opposite corner of Prince William Sound revealed itself to be ferries from the Alaska Marine Highway System.
When we consulted the vessel's departure and arrival calendar, we realized that we would have to wait longer than we could for the next one.
Reformed, we got into the car.
We inaugurate another extensive and delicious journey through Alaskan roads.
We head north.
We pass along Anchorage and Palmer.
Then we took the Glenn Highway, the extreme route that skirts the Chugach Mountains, their ice fields, glaciers and the many lakes they give rise to.
At the junction known as the Hub of Alaska, we cut south.
Across Alaska Below, Toward Majestic Prince William Sound
Without the insurmountable Chugach barrier in front of us, we head to the eastern end of Prince William Sound.
We approach the endless Thompson Pass, a semi-flooded canyon filled with logs and natural dykes, all caused by the relentless spring thaw.
Twenty-five years after its seismic destruction, Valdez is back in the mouths of the world. For the worst reasons.
Originally a simple fishing village on Prince William Sound, the city housed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline terminal station.
From then on, tankers after tankers filled their tanks before setting sail for Outside's refineries.
The worst was about to happen.
Alaska's Monumental Stronghold, Despite the “Exxon Valdez” Catastrophe
In March 1989, the super tanker “Exxon Valdez” rammed the Bligh Reef. caused the worst ecological disaster ofAlaska.
Nature recovered faster than expected.
Currently, from June to August, pleasure boats anchored in the local port almost never stop.
Visitors are shown the trajectory that led to the accident, the magnificent panoramas of Prince William Sound and its incredible fauna.
“Exxon Valdez” remains an unavoidable theme.
We go aboard one of the boats owned by Stan Stephens, owner of a tour company that make the region's stunning nature known to outsiders.
Twenty years have passed.
Traces of the oil spill linger beneath the gray sand and rocks. How they subsist in the minds of the people of the region.
Nature, its fauna and flora, seem to have resisted everything.
glacier behind glacier
We pass by humpback whales, seals and otters, eagles and loons that enrich the region's ecosystem.
On deck, as he passed by Bligh's reef, the monotone voice of the narrator describes the events but affects the passengers' enthusiasm for seeing and photographing the animals up close...
We advanced along the strait parallel to the runway used by oil tankers on their way to the Pacific.
As on the fateful day, pieces of ice float, now small in size. They don't require care or detours, but let us see the glaciers.
After a coastline filled with conifers, the Chugach Mountains are revealed in the distance.
And covering them in white, the immense ice field from which glaciers like Columbia and Mears flow.
The gigantic Columbia (one of Alaska's largest glaciers) has long projected an extensive treacherous surface.
It fills it with considerable icebergs and ice fragments in permanent flow towards the homonymous bay and against Heather's island.
Allied to the catastrophic example of "Exxon Valdez", deters tour boat pilots from venturing into its domain.
The Imposing Ice of the Meares Glacier
The incursion they choose is, therefore, that of the neighbor Meares.
Meares is much less than Columbia. To compensate, it remains accessible even close to the ice wall.
As we head into its hidden cove, the icebergs increase.
The cold intensifies, blown from the Chugach Mountains by a powerful north wind.
We stopped at two hundred meters.
We look at the frigid scenario.
As usual when visiting glaciers, there is absolute silence.
Passengers feel the grandeur of the landscape, listening to the sounds of the unpredictable ice melts.
On the way back to Valdez, we see colonies of otters, sea lions and three humpback whales.
Passage to Largo de Córdova, Valdez's less Touristic Neighborhood
With just 1000 homes and 2500 inhabitants, the third large (before the main) settlement on the Prince William Sound is Cordova.
Devoid of access by land, the city is lost in the Chugach National Forest, stretched between an arm of the sea that the natives called Orca and Lake Eyak.
The absolute autonomy in which the Cordovan community has become accustomed to living, separated from the tourist activity that takes over every year on the other side of the strait due to the high costs of the ferry and the rare accommodations, is taken as a source of pride.
We are in American territory where genuineness continues to outweigh appearances.