Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day trip to McCarthy & Kennecott, July 8, 2010


This is where the McCarthy road began, through this narrow road cut.  Then we saw views of the river spreading out.


The McCarthy road was built over a railroad bed without removing the rails or ties, so it was bumpy.




We soon arrived at the Kuskulana railroad trestle bridge.  It was decided that Bob would  walk across and I would drive the Explorer.   When on the bridge, you did not have the feeling that it was a one lane former RR trestle.





We passed an area with many of these cairns, of course we had to stop for me to build one, Bob built one too.










After driving two hours, walking about 1.5 miles and then riding in a shuttle van we arrive at Kennecott.  Read about the area here and here.  This area is now mostly owned by the National Park Service and is within the boundaries of the Wrangle-St Elias National Park. 

The tour of the big mill was wonderful and took 2.5 hours.  The time whizzed by as we walked through town learning about the different buildings and then walked up a trail to the top of the 14 story mill, entered the mill, donned hard hats and then worked our way down inside the mill just as the copper ore had done over 100 years before.

IMG_9186 IMG_1356

Stairway to nowhere.  We were told John Denver in the 70’s used these stairs for one of his videos.




Here Bob is checking out some of the construction, notice the beam with some bark still attached, this is one of the original ones sawing onsite over 100 years ago.

Here is our guide, Kate, describing a jig, one of the processes used to sort the crushed copper ore.


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See all the piles of gravel from the window of the mill, well that is not tailings from the mill, it is the terminal moraine of the Root and Kennicott Glaciers.  Just a few inches under the gravel layer is ice.



IMG_1347 Snow covered Mt Blackburn at 16,390 feet dominates the background.

After the 2.5 hr mill tour Bob wanted to walk to the glacier, so off we went for another 4 miles.  We did finally make it to the glacier, well almost, another 1/2 mile down a gravel slope.

IMG_9224 When we hike, Bob is always ahead of me.   This time I think he was just anxious to make contact with the glacier.

  IMG_1375 Below Bob has one foot on the moraine and one foot on a glacier.  Believe me there is ice just below the surface of his left foot.



Even found a chunk of clear ice, yes,  it was good.

Below I am pointing out a chunk of ice protruding from the gravel crust.

IMG_9232  Below, Bob took a photo on another man climbing on the ice, just up over the section where we were.



On our hike back, we refilled one of our water bottles with this cold stream of snow melt, boy was it good!!

We finally made it back to Kennecott, to the shuttle stop in time to catch the 6:30 pm shuttle to within 1/2 mile of where we parked the car.  Sure was glad to get there as I was getting sort of worn out, that is when the grizzly side surfaces.  We still had two hours to drive back to the coach in Chitina.  Bob did a great job of dodging the potholes which puzzles us, as there were more potholes coming in that going out, guess that road grader we saw coming in did make a difference.

On the drive to and from McCarthy and Kinnecott we crossed the Chitina River.  Here are saw fish wheels in operation, these wheels rotate with the flow of the river and fish are caught in the baskets.  Other than the Yukon River, this is only place in Alaska these fish wheels can be used.

IMG_9255 This is what we saw as we were unpacking the car.  Not good!   Guess Bob has a job in the morning.IMG_1386


Diana, Eric, and kids said...

What an awesome day! I need to figure out where this is on a map!

Kathy said...

Such an fantastic part of Alaska we haven't been, only seen some of the high peaks from Copper River!
OMG, thank goodness the flat didn't occur some where like on the bridge trestle and waited until you got back!
Great photos!

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