Wednesday, July 23, 2008

There is nothing to fear, but fear itself (and bears...)

So here I am a fortnight after my last update to shed some light on my situation. Shortly before my last update I had been out at McCarthy and Kennicott with my French friends. Louie and Laure were great people and a blast to hang out with. I greatly appreciated their willingness to take a straggler along with them and we had a great time.

Firstly, McCarthy Road. It was a crazy trip down a windy road, but some of the vistas from the region were extremely picturesque. I hadn't up until that point seen a part of Alaska that was more beautiful. Its an old road that follows along the path of the old rail tracks from Cordova to McCarthy/Kennicott. Back in the boom days, Kennicott was one of the most productive copper mining towns in Alaska. McCarthy was its sister town 4 miles away that served as a supply depot for it.

Along the road lies Kuskilana Bridge, which was only a railroad trestle a few decades ago. It was retrofitted to a road and passes over a gorge that is 250+ feet deep. The views from the center of the bridge and looking down were breathtaking. Apparently they used to bungie jump off it, but have since abandoned that as it clogs traffic up.

Beyond was the Gilhana Trestle. Am old trestle over a few streams that looked extremely similar to the one on Kayuta until I got up close. It was made solely of Douglas Fir and apparently encompassed around 9 million board feet to construct. It was supported by 12" or greater full out Doug poles for the length of it, and was pretty impressive to behold.

Kennicott is a mining town built basically into the foot of a mountain at the edge of Root and Kuskilana Glaciers. The structures are old, huge and impressive. The sheer size of the buildings, built 60 miles from a road in the middle of nowhere in the early half of the century is downright breathtaking.

We walked through town and camped on the foot of the Root Glacier. The first night we climbed up onto it. Very odd feeling to be sitting on 100+ foot of solid ice with no substantial ground below you for a ways. It was quite a liberating experience, but it was damn cold. That was about 6 miles from where we based. Sunset into the Chugach was wonderful as well.

The next day we Hiked up to Bonanza Mine. The climb was 3800 ft in 4.4 miles, and it was all of that. By the time we got near the summit my back had said it had enough and my knee was hurting so I didn't go hunting around the mine, but still got some pictures of the mine and its support equipment. I know my bodies limits and the last thing I wanted was to be stuck in a mine with my back thrown out.

When we came back down I fished to no avail in Silver Lake for a while. After that we headed to Chitina for the Fourth of July Parade. We ended up watching a Native Dancer perform and got some free hot dogs as well.


Valdez is by far the most beautiful town I have seen in Alaska. Whether it be coming through Thompson Pass to get there, the waterfalls ringing the cliffs, or the view on the harbor, it was everything I had hoped for and more. I loved the place.

We watched the fireworks there. Very odd to see fireworks without darkness, but nice nonetheless. We walked around the harbor, I found the Elks lodge and then we went back to our camp. Apparently that night a black bear (Ursus americanus) was found in the campsite and had to be put down, but that was before we got back. I ended up talking about fishing to a guy from Fairbanks for a while and we crashed.

The next day, Louie, Laure and I took one of those "nature cruises," on a ship called the LuLu Belle. I wanted to sea kayak, but they wanted about $200 per trip, which was fairly ludicrous by my standards. The trip was well worth it. We went out from 2-9 and caught glimpses of just about every bit of surface dwelling sea life outside of an Orca that could be seen. The pictures are all in my album (not linking them on here, as I don't want an overflow of bandwidth use on the site).

At the end we were brought in near Columbia Glacier. Columbia is a tidewater that is still calving into the Pacific. It was massive and the shear scale of it is impossible to describe. That was the highlight of the trip for me.

Currently I'm in Anchorage, waiting for the crew to come and get me and head back to the Kenai. Hopefully the weather is a little better, as my last few days have been rain-trodden and dreary. After Kayla and Greg dropped me off here, I've been in a hostel on the North side of town and its been rainy, but not cold. Oh yeah, and I made use of that license I bought and we pulled in some Rainbows in Palmer and fried them up as hors dourves. Anyway, until next time, and hopefully next time is quicker than this time!


Monday, July 7, 2008

Update... kinda

Well, the trip to Kennicott and Valdez was amazing. I can't type much more, but that will have to be enough for now. It was the most beautiful area of Alaska that I have seen so far. Far and away.

That picture is but a mild taste of what I took. the pics are protected with the pass "alaska" so that randomness and my pictures popping up everywhere doesn't happen, so you just need to use that to access them.

I'll be back with the full rundown tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pictures are back up

Got the pictures fixed, for some reason I set them to private, but they're back up, and I updated Denali and Solstice stuff.

Back to the field tomorrow, heading down the Klutina Trail to do some plots. Should be a good time. Until then...


Denali or Bust

Greg and I went fishing up on the Upper Chena. Not much biting, but there were fish in the region.

Some good and bad today. We got to see Denali. Unfortunately it was raining. Saw some brown bear, owl and Dall’s sheep though. Even though it was overcast, the scenery was still beautiful. The lush greens complimented the low cloud cover and the ice was still out there. Didn’t get to see any of the summits, but I already saw Denali and Greg and Kay will be going back later on in the week. The only downfall is that the park road continually kicked mud up onto our windows of our tents and limited the amount of sight we had.

Unfortunately when we got back to camp I made the ultimate fuck up. I left the rain fly on my tent open and it rained in Fairbanks, so I had to dry out my bag my pillow and one of my shirts. Overall it could have been worse, and I found out that the fly on this tent works nicely when it is closed. I’m in it at the moment and am quite dry.

One more day and then back to work and Kay and Greg head out for Wasilla/Palmer/Anchorage. Hopefully I can catch up with them on my next stint off. It was a great time seeing some familiar faces, and their company is always good in my book.


Overall Solstice was fun. We ended up grabbing some grub, went to the festivities downtown, which were glorified versions of the Boonville Fair. When we got back, the three of us chilled and played a few card games around the camp. We then started taking pictures on the hour of the three of us to prove the amount of light we were seeing. It was pretty crazy to see the full out 24 hour sun.

I went to see the Midnight Sun baseball game. That was an experience in it self. Watching a live game was great, the atmosphere and the people were welcoming, and I had a great time. I unfortunately forgot my memory card for my camera, but I did grab the commemorative coin and card saying I was at the game. The Goldpanners even ended up winning the game.

When I got back, we resumed the pictures. On the way back I saw some people dropping off a footbridge into the frigid Chena River. All I could think of was jumping off the trestle in May. Fun, but not once you hit the water...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

Off to fish today with Greg, hopefully snagging some grayling, burbot or any of the salmon. Wish me luck!

And Happy Solstice, its like the fourth of July up here. We'll be heading out to festivities in the mid afternoon. I'll be at the Midnight Sun baseball game, there's a downtown festival from 12-12, the Midnight Sun run, concerts all day and overall great time from what I hear. Greg and I are going to pull an all nighter through the solstice. We figure it doesn't get dark anyway, so it wont be as tough to stay up.

I did hit up Silver Gulch Brewing Company's Brewpub with Kayla and Greg for dinner the other night. The beer was amazing and I had a Tri-tip that was to die for. (It might have been the subsistence off of camp food for the last weeks).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why spend your leisure bereft of pleasure?

Well back again, probably the only time this week again. I uploaded a new set of photos from the Wrangel-St. Elias/ CRV trip. Probably the most picturesque place I've seen outside the Kenai. The mountains are just looming over you and enormous. Sanford is a beast of a peak at 16,237 and the south face rising 8,000 feet within a mile, while the other side sprawls out immesurably is intense. The other mountains are prime as well.

We hit up Porcupine Creek campground near the glorious city of Slana, population of around 30, and you can see in the pictures, that was the campground which I was standing on the ice bridge. Porcupine Creek was still frozen over a bit and standing on the ice in the middle of June was a bit different. One night, Eric and I hit a trail and bushwhacked up a ridge to the peak of it and could just see for miles over the range.

Then we hit up the Nabesna Road. It brings you down into Wrangel-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Beautiful country. Just gorgeous. I was able to get some really nice shots and took a hike down near a lake.

Back in a while with more.