Leaving Valdez, we drove up the Richardson Hwy and the Edgerton Hwy to Chitina. This is where the road is coincident with the old grade of the Copper River & Northwestern Railroad. This railroad was built by the Kennicott Syndicate (Guggenheims and others) to transport copper ore from the rich mines in the Kennicott area down to Cordova for shipment south.
From Chitina, the road is dirt, and rather rough. One unfortunate driver that we came across had smashed a hole in the oil pan of his minivan by trying to go over a huge dip too fast. On this road, we bottomed out the rear suspension several times on similar surface irregularities. For the load we are carrying (luggage, food, recovery gear in addition to the tongue weight of the trailer with 2 jerrycans of gas), heavy duty springs would have been useful.
At the end of the road, there is no automobile road over the Kennicott River. There used to be a hand-pulled tram on a wire rope over the river. They have now built a foot bridge to make the crossing easier. McCarthy is a largely isolated town. There are several year-round residents that are pretty much cut off (at least by road) from the rest of the world.
We decided to take a 35-minute flightseeing trip over the glaciers in the area. Mt Blackburn (over 16,000 feet) is one of the highest mountains for many miles. Kennicott and Root glaciers are each several miles long and quite magnificent. The pictures may not be of the best quality, due to taking them out through the plane's window.
One curious thing we noticed at the airport: a group of guys from
Germany were camped out at the airport, right in the airport parking area.
They flew from Germany in a huge single-engine cabin biplane. They had
dirtbikes and everything in the plane. Apparently, they are hopping around
the northwest going into remote airstrips with this craft.
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