The trek on the glacier was 4 hours long, and we met out first black bear of the trip… before the trek we were uncertain if a one day visit to the reservoir is a worthwhile experience, and I’m glad we decided to go through with it. The flight, the glacier and the visit to the ghost town of Kennecott made it a very special day. Even though, if I could I would add an extra day there, and maybe visit one of the local mines in the reservoir, like Bonanza or Jumbo.
In the reservoir we met another family that had rented a car from a rental agency that allows you to drive on dirt roads. They told us the road was in good conditions, but the route was less scenery that what they expected (and heard). They also took the Dalton highway to Prudhoe bay and the north pole.
Portage Pass is a trail starting at Whittier, on the left side of the entrance to the tunnel. It’s a lovely trail, medium-difficult in walking terms. The skyline lookout is another beautiful trail with a moderate climb and an amazing view of Kenai. And if you are looking for and easy but still scenery route, I recommend you’ll try the Biron glacier trail.
Across the valley you’ll find lots of walking trails that leads to different waterfalls, passing beautiful wooden bridges. I recommend you’ll try the trail to Picot waterfall, near the town of Saint André. It’s a nice circular route, not too long, and it passes by beautiful terraced waterfalls.
There are 3 walking trails: 4 Km, 4.5 Km and 5 Km. I recommend the “experienced trekker” trail, though all of them are pretty easy…. The trails will take you to the waterfalls, each in a different way, and they are marked with different colors. All and all it’s a fun and easy nature walk.
We passed a couple of wooden bridges along the way, walking in the natural grove of fir trees. You can continue with the trail up to the waterfall high point, or down to the valley. The higher you get, the more squirrels you meet…
The next day we sat out to tour one of the best known nature reserves of the Black Forest – Wutachschlucht (Wutach Gorge). This is a narrow valley with lots of walking trails that will suit every one and every need – whether you have all day or only an hour, and whether you are an experienced trekker or a little lazy…
We entered the nature reserve from Wutachmuhle, and took a nice and relaxed trek of about 2 hours round trip.
We continued to Velica Paklencia reserve – which is a cliff reserve. Just before we arrived we stopped by a bridge over a very wide river. In the reserve we were asked how much time we planned to spend inside, and when we told them just an hour they sold us juvenile tickets that cost only 6 kn instead of 40 kn. Inside the reserve there were a lot of mountain climbers and grooved cliffs, and down one side of the cliff flows a nice stream with a lot of vegetation. The reserve ended after 25 minutes of walking when we came to the beginning of a long climb and realized that most of the beautiful sights were concentrated in the first half an hour. That was our cue to head back to the car.
After passing Pacaymayu the trail begins climbing steeply to the other side of the Pacaymayu valley. About halfway up is a small round roofless stone building. This Inca ruin is known as Runkuracay ("Pile of Ruins"), and it overlooks the valley. The site was heavily restored at the end of the 20th century. Researchers believe that the site was a post for couriers following the trail to Machu Picchu. It contained sleeping areas and stables.
The tambo of Runkuraqay. Photo by Steve Pastor
From Sayaqmarka the trail descends to the valley, passing through a magnificent cloud forest full of orchids, hanging mosses and flowers, and passing through an impressive Inca tunnel, carved into the rock on the way. On the far side, the trail begins to climb again till you reach the third pass, around 3,700 meters. A little after the pass you reach Phuyupatamarca ("Town above the Clouds"), the most impressive Inca ruin so far. The design of the site follows the natural surrounding outlines, and includes five fountains and an altar, which was probably used for llama sacrifice.
Phuyupatamarca. Photo by Gordon E. Robertson
6th and 7th day: Touring the north.
We reached the mountains, so shouldn't we walk a bit? We searched for a nice walking trail, short and not too hard. So we chose Marmolada - "authentic" Italian mountain and Iceberg... After 20-25 mins drive, we parked beside Fedaia lake (Lago Fedaia), took the cable car, which is some kind of basket designed for couple/single, to 2900m height (several meters below the height in which the mountain changes to iceberg). From above we could see the lake, the nearby summits, and two trails curving down. We chose the shorter, and after an hour and a half walking (very relaxed pase, although the descent wasn't always fun), we found ourselves at the bottom again.