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!