Category Archives: birding

Valdez to Sourdough Campground – BLM

We drove around to the other side of the bay at Valdez and saw this eagle perched by the road. I’m sure he works for the tourism bureau because he posed nicely while we took his picture. It was overcast but not raining in the morning. So we set out towards Fairbanks. We heard about the 5+ earthquake near Anchorage this morning but we were already driving on the frost heaves so we didn’t notice. The clouds were high enough that we were actually able to see more of the Wrangell-St Elias range today. Lots of fishermen were out on the Gulkana River. We thought about camping there for the night. After looking at the river and wondering how anyone ever lands a salmon out of that raging river, we decided to keep going. We looked at Sailor’s Pit, which is a BLM easement on some private (Ahtna Inc.) property. The Milepost says it is $20 for camping but the sign at the campground says $40. There were people camped there and it was right on the Gulkana River but it didn’t look worth it to us. We didn’t even see any services (restrooms, water). We ended up at Sourdough Campground. It’s a BLM campground about 15 miles north of the Tok cutoff on Hwy 4 (Richardson Hwy). It is a nice, well cared for, campground and only $8! We were surrounded by black spruce trees. They are the only spruce that will grow in the mushy, wet tundra. Their growth is stunted and the tops are curvy due to the winter weather mashing them down. I’ve heard the areas of black spruce called a “drunken forest” because they have such shallow roots that they easily tip.

Haines, AK to Haines Jct, YT

It was overcast all day today, rained a little this morning but not enough to bother us. We headed north and went from the USA to British Columbia, Canada to Destruction Bay, Yukon Territory (about 50 miles past Haines Jct). We ended up at the Cottonwood RV Park. It’s a pretty little private campground on Kluane Lake, the largest lake in YT. If we were in the 5th wheel, this would not have attracted me to this campground. But, since we have a tiny little bathroom/shower combination that we haven’t used yet, the advertisement of “unmetered showers” sold me. I mean, I CAN and HAVE taken a 3 minute shower for a quarter. BUT it’s REALLY nice to take one and not have to worry about having enough quarters to rinse the shampoo out of my hair! This campground even has grass and trees…and wifi for free. There were only 2 sites left that we could “probably” get the wifi in though. We almost took the lakefront site but the signal wasn’t as strong as the mosquitos were. There are 3 yearling grizzly cubs terrorizing the campground this week. I hope we get to see them!
We saw these trumpeter swans, with their babies, on the Chilkat River today. We saw a few eagles as we drove through (and stopped at 3 viewpoints) the Chilkat Eagle Preserve. We needed a spotting scope to see them so we didn’t get a picture of the eagles. The eagles nest in April and the young ones fledge in August. Apparently there are about 3,000 that nest there. But the spectacular time to see them is supposed to be November when 10,000 of them show up for the late chum salmon run. We also read that there is a wolf pack around Summit Lake but we wanted to travel further than that. We did see a couple coyotes next to the highway though.
We were told that Mosquito Lake was a pretty little lake so we dared to stop there for lunch. They actually weren’t too bad but we didn’t spend much time outside. I don’t think they get much business at that campground – not sure why?