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Published: June 14th 2008
Leaving Palmer, hopefully for the last time, we once again headed east on the Glenn Highway. This road has become very familiar to us this week. The clouds hung low all morning and we had no views at all of this beautiful area and would never have known of it’s beauty, had we not passed through here before and gotten to see the incredible views.
Kennicott Mine, McCarthy and the Wrangell/St. Elias National Park and Preserve are on the menu today. We are doing a lot of back-tracking, as the road to this area is back down toward Valdez. The gray morning turned into blue skies and sunshine in the afternoon. What a lovely day it turned out to be. We took the Edgerton Highway, a paved road, toward Chitina (pronounced Chit-na) and had great views of the Wrangell Mountains.
After reaching Chitina, we headed out on the McCarthy Road which is gravel. Entering this road on a one-lane pass through rock steeples, the road quickly became a one-lane gravel road clinging to a gravel ridge with turn-outs every few hundred feet to let another vehicle pass. One area of the road was washed out completely and the only
warning was orange paint on two rocks and a piece of orange tape. The road was rough, very rough, like a washboard that had no end. We traveled three and then four miles on this road and I could tell by the look on Dave’s face that this trip was not going to happen today. Every inch that we drove on this road, shook the van unmercifully. At the 10 mph pace we were going, the 60 mile trip would take around 6 hours to complete. Regrettably, we turned around, but we had no choice.
The Kennicott Mine mill is a 14 story, barn red building, perched on the side of a ridge, that towers over the narrow gravel road through town. The settlement built around this copper mine in 1906, also includes a hospital, school, movie theater, mine offices and homes. Please check it on line and look at pictures of this beautiful and historic part of the Wrangell/St. Elias National Park. I am sad we couldn’t make it here to see it in person.
On our way back to Glennallen, we stopped at the Copper River just outside of Chitina and watched the big attraction there,
dip-net fishing. A wheel with baskets on it are turned by the flow of the river and when a fish is scooped out of the water, a slanted blade in the net slides the fish into a live box next to the wheel. It was pretty interesting. We also took a short ride to Copper Center on the Old Richardson Highway where there are a few old buildings and museums.
We had the misfortune of choosing the Northern Nights Campground to stay at in Glennallen. Evidently it is under new ownership and they give no discounts now. An electric site is the same as “full hook-ups”, which is $30. Then the woman at the offices aid if we wanted showers, they cost $3.00 each. Dave was livid and I told her that we have been getting free showers everywhere else. The woman stated that they have to truck the water into and out of the park. After we set up our campsite, Dave went back to the office and told the woman that we have a site with water which we can’t use but are paying for anyways. He told her if we had a camper we could take
showers for as long as we wanted for no additional fee. She stated that she saw his point and gave us 2 free tokens for showers.
PS - The showers were horrible as were all the other facilities
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