OK! I have been waiting to post about my Labor Day weekend until I got some pictures. And here they are!
Over Labor Day weekend, I went out to Kennicott with some friends of mine. It's about an 8 hour drive way back in the heart of the Wrangell-St. Elias mountains. There's a mine, and a glacier....butI'll get to that part later.
We started out Saturday and the weather was pretty shitty. Rainy, cloudy, etc. But the colors were beginning to turn, especially up near the Matanuska Glacier (about an hour into our drive). This is about 2000 ft elevation, I think. Here's a pic of the tundra up that way:
Like I said, the drive is a pretty long one. Mostly because once you cross the Copper River, the road is basically an old railroad track. So it's all dirt, with lots of potholes, and random railroad spikes still in it. Fortunately, we didn't hit any. But there are some interesting sites along the way -- like this old trestle you have to cross. It was originally built in 1911(?) but obviously has been rebuilt since then. I would guess it's at least 250 ft down to the river from that gorge. It's a one lane bridge, and the only thing separating you from the river is a guardrail. So it's a little intimidating, but safe enough.
Then we stopped at Liberty Falls. I had not been there before. It's a pretty neat little water fall -- not very tall, but quite a bit of volume and pretty fast water.
Finally we made it to McCarthy, which is the town the road ends at. It's about 5 miles outside Kennicott, and was the railroad town that supported Kennicott, which was the mining town. Back in the early 1900's, it was filled with boozers and "good time girls". Now it's a sleepy little town with a roaring population of 300 in the summer and about 100 in the winter.
We had planned to stay in my friends' cabin (a couple we were meeting down there; they had rented the cabin since she's pregnant). Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, the caretaker would not let us stay there. So we had to camp out. We were anticipating that might happen, so we came prepared. My friend K knew the lady who ran the Root Glacier Base campground, so for $20 for 2 nights, we got this campsite.
It was awesome! I don't know if you can tell, but the river runs right by it, so we got to listen to the rushing water all night. Then in the background on the right is the Root Glacier and the (in)famous Stairway Icefall, Donehoe Peak (the only one not covered in snow) and way back in the back is Mt. Blackburn, tallest peak in the Wrangell St. Elias at almost 17000 ft. What a view to wake up to in the morning!
I will post more later, so this post doesn't get too long. Next up: the mine, the glacier, biking, Northern Lights, a campfire, and Japanese tourists!