Posts Tagged ‘McCarthy’

Root Glacier Hike & Long Lake Paddle July10-11,2009

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

One of the highlights of our trip was planned to be our guided tour of the Root Glacier in Wrangell-St Elias National Park. It exceeded our expectations on July 10th. Our guide, Kate, spent 5 hours with 4 of us. We spent about an hour hiking from Kennicott up to the foot of Root Glacier. We added a layer of clothing and put ice crampons on our feet. Kate instructed us on what to look out for and how to climb and walk on the glacier.

Then, Kate led us up the foot of the glacier and onto the base glacier. We viewed blue ice and blue water pools. We hiked up to the edge of a large moulin and looked down into the depths of the ice cliff. We saw beginner ice climbers going though their paces.

The scenery was outstanding. The experience of walking up and down various formations was exhilerating.

Kate gave us a lot of information about what we were looking at whether it was wild flowers or moraines.
One outstanding experience!!


On our way back on July 11th to our campsite on McCarthy Road, we found a spot on Long Lake for our kayak put in.

We had a beautiful paddle. The hills didn’t seem as blocked by the smoke as in the prior days.

We saw remote homes accessible from the lake only and how self sufficient they seemed. They pumped water from the lake, had solar panels, had hydroponic gardens on their docks and seemed prepared for winter.

A dog came along the shore to guide us down the lake. We even saw a plane land on the main camp grass as we were taking out our kayaks.

McCarthy Road/Hikes Wrangell-St Elias Park July 9-11,2009

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

On July 8th, we travelled up the first 12 miles of McCarthy Road to hike into 3 lakes looking for somewhere to paddle. We couldn’t find a location close enough to road to get kayaks to lake.  This section of the road was probably the roughest part of the whole road. We had decided not to take our camper on this road. We planned to stay at a lodge in McCarthy and enjoy restaurant meals for 2 days while we visited  the Kennicott Copper Mine and took a guided tour on the Root Glacier.

McCarthy is a town about 5 miles before you reach the mine town of Kennicott. Miners used to visit McCarthy to let off steam after they were paid. The National Park Service and others are retoring the Kennicott area to preserve this historic cooper mining town. Very few people inhabit this area full time. Those that do are interesting characters.

The towns are only accessible to tourists by town/lodge shuttle services that pick you up at a footbridge at the end of the McCarthy road. The whole trip there is a return to another era as well as a visit to two glaciers – Kennicott and Root Glaciers that are located right there.

McCarthy Road has been improved substantially in the last few years. Its ruggedness now consists in the length of the washboard gravel road – 60 miles of this road certainly leaves you with a disdain for gravel, dust and ruts. It is worth the trip but I wouldn’t bring any RV other than a pickup camper. Staying overnight at the Backpacker Hotel ($28 per person dormitory style)  is a cheaper alternative to the 2 lodging options in McCarthy/Kennicott. The trip in took us about 4 hours one way but could be done in 2-3 hours.

The National Park Service talks and tour of Kennicott Cooper Mine were a very interesting. The mine processing buildings were in good enough shape to give you a complete picture of what went on there and how the people lived there. 

This posting has picture of the towns, views along McCarthy Road and the hikes we took.

The next posting will have pictures of our Root Glacier Adventure and the kayak paddle we took on Long Lake at the McCarthy 30 mile mark (Approx.).

Worthington Glacier & Chitina 07/07-08/2009

Monday, July 13th, 2009

We left Valdez on the morning of July 7th travelling on Edgerdown Highway with McCarthy in Wrangell-St Elias National Park as our ultimate destination. We thought we were going to stay at Blueberry Lake State Park for a night while we visited Worthington Glacier.

We passed through Keystone Canyon and Bridal Falls. We drove through Blueberry Lake area. The lake was small and uninteresting. We decided to visit the glacier and head to a primitive campground at Chitina at the beginning of McCarthy Road. We parked our camper at Chitina campsite for 5 days. We stayed there the nights of the 7th and 8th. We also stayed there on 11th when we came back from staying the 10th and 11that Ma Johnson’s, a historic lodge in McCarthy. This posting concerns itself with the trip to Chitina and our initial day there with the salmon fishermen.

The trip continued to be plagued by smoke haze from fires burning in Alaska. This impacted our ability to get quality scenic pictures of the mountain views.

When we arrived in Chitina, we found a very small town on the Cooper River. There was a gas station with small grocery section, a liquor store, a couple of gift shops, post office, a visitors center and a ranger station. Chitina is the starting point of the McCarthy Road, which is a 60 mile Alaskan gravel road that leads to the historic towns of McCarthy and Kennicott.

The Cooper River is full of glacier silt and is very fast flowing. The river delta area around Chitina was full of silt blown by the strong winds that often occur there. Our primitive campground has inches of silt on the ground. Walking around there was like walking on moons surface. You were always kicking up dust.

Our campsite was setup by the state. There were picnic tables, fire rings and vault toilets. There was no water. You had to bring your own water or get refills in Chitina about a mile away. It was on one side of the road. On the other side were the salmon fish wheels, dip net fishing areas and a campground area maintained by the native tribes.

It was fasinating to see the different homemade fish wheels in operation. Each was unique but operated with strong current pulling the scoop nets around and around. We could see where the “caught” salmon would fall to the side into container as the net turned around. The fisherman all had the campers parked in random locations around the delta. There with ATVs all over the place. Alaskans call them over land vehicles.

Comments on talking to Alaskans: Sarah is a true Alaskan and she is loved by most of these people. Don’t mention Obama. They are true conservatives up here!