Flying back from Kennicott

Trip Start Jun 19, 2009
Trip End Jul 26, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Thursday, July 2, 2009

What a day!  Sunny and warm, and sun rising by 4:00am.

I drove about two hours to meet a shuttle van at the little Chitina airport.  Two young couples from Germany also met the van.  Then on we drove to Kennicott.  The road is about 60 miles long, mostly dirt and gravel.  And BUMPY!!  Jolt and lurch, dodge potholes, slow down, speed up. The road is access to one part of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.  There's a big sign when the pavement ends: Drive at your own risk.  So, I'm glad I didn't drive my own van.

My destination was the tiny town of McCarthy and the abandoned mine and town of Kennicott.  Kennicott used to be a thriving and profitable copper mine, but was abandoned in 1938.  The Park Service eventually acquired the mine and is in the process of restoring some of the buildings.  We ran a bit ahead of schedule, and so we had time to visit a museum in McCarthy.

I had about six hours in this part of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  I saw the Visitor Center, toured all the Kennicott building that were open to the public, bought some books and souvenirs, did a little hiking, and took lots of pictures.  Toward 3pm it began to cloud up, and it rained briefly. 

I almost ran into Barbara Steps (daughter of Richard and Rosemary Evans) in Kennicott. While taking shelter from the rain, I just happened to enter into a nice conversation with one of her friends from McCarthy who was also at Kennicott today.  Alas, Barbara lingered behind the rest of her group to take pictures and I had to leave before she came along the road. 

Instead of the shuttle van back, I took a scenic flight in an old Cessna 180 (a 4-seater airplane). The plane was strictly for visual flight -- there were no instruments for IFR on the plane.  In fact, I didn't even see a radio for communication.  The pilot was excellent; a really quick take-off and a smooth short landing on a short runway. I guess he is one of the authentic Alaska "bush" pilots.

It's back to Tolsona Wilderness Campground for a second night.  It was nice not to have to take down and then set up the tent again today.  I haven't stayed two nights in one place yet on this trip.

Tomorrow I meet my sister in Anchorage.  If I get out of this campground early tomorrow, I can get the oil changed when I get to Anchorage and still be able to pick her up at the airport,
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