So said my single-serving friend en route from Dallas-Ft. Worth to Anchorage. I’m not sure I fully agree, but it was great to hear from a woman who appeared to be in her seventies headed for adventure in Alaska. This was not her first trip, either. She regaled me with tales from a 13,000-mile road trip that she and her late husband drove from their home in Virginia to explore America’s northern frontier. I hope to be as spry and upbeat when I am her age!
Now, back to the weather…
I left Tampa at noon on a humid day kept comfortable (some might say “bearable”) by clouds and an occasional drizzle. For those who don’t already know: The Sunshine State is actually quite wet. In addition to regular summer monsoons, hurricanes and other tropical “disturbances” dump enough water on Florida to keep it mostly green and dotted with innumerable pools of fresh water between rivers, lakes, estuaries and oceans. Next time you fly there, look down for reflections of sky all over the peninsula.
Approaching the Texas connection of my flight, the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area looked miserably brown, bleak, flat and hot. The large, curved windows in the tram radiated with an intensity that made me grateful for air conditioning. When the pilot welcomed us aboard, he announced the local temperature was 115 degrees Fahrenheit, while the report from Anchorage was 60. The entire cabin sighed with anticipatory relief.
The weather in Anchorage was indeed gorgeous when I walked out of the airport into the bright sunlight at 7:30 pm. After a bus trip and long walk from the downtown station to the hostel while saddled with a load like a pack-mule, it felt more like 80 than 60. Still better than 115!
My companions for this part of the trip, Rick and Ellen, arrived after midnight. It was finally dark-ish (“midnight blue” comes to mind) and slightly cooler. In the four, activity-filled days we’ve enjoyed since then, the weather has alternated from cold and blustery to warm and sunny.
We gained and lost 1000 feet of elevation on the train ride from Anchorage to Seward. At the apex of our climb, the conductor announced the outside temperature: 34 F. Stepping out onto the vestibules between cars made made the breath-taking views even more so, as they were accompanied by the rush of brisk air.
In and around Seward, temperatures seem constantly in flux. Mountains come and go from view as decided by the clouds. During our first full day here, we went fishing on a rocky beach across the bay from Seward. It was cold and windy, so I started off bundled in all my layers. Just as we moved to a sheltered cove and started catching salmon, the clouds thinned and I peeled down to a tee-shirt.
Yesterday, we took a short hike to the foot of Exit Glacier. Temps were in the 40s early in the morning, so again I bundled. Warmed by physical exertion halfway up the trail, I stuffed the jacket and sweater into my bag. But we soon discovered that glaciers breathe icy winds and so the layers were reapplied. Afterward, we talked to rangers about the longer trail to the Harding Ice Field. One camping option at the top of our list: building a snow cave. In August. How cool is that?!