Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Copper Center

From the Gakona Alaska RV Park we head to Glenallen to stock up on food and gas. The Wrangell-Saint Elias Visitor Center is just down the road.  We spend hours here as there is the main visitor center, an exhibit hall, theater and Cultural Center.
Out in front of the cultural center there was a fish trap that the local native people use for catching their allotment of salmon from the Copper River.

We also walked briskly along the nature trail through the boreal forest which was complete with authentic swarms of mosquitoes. The mosquito population is light as it is early in the season.
Looking into the National Park
William in the boreal forest on the trail
One leg of the trail was on part of the old Fairbanks to Valdez trail.  We could have just walked to Valdez. The boreal forest often looks much worse on the roadside. The trees are often growing in shallow soil on permafrost. The freeze and thaw causes them to grow poorly and often lean drunkenly.  The path here is quite dry. In the permafrost areas it would be boggy.
A tragedy in Copper Center

Last Saturday at about 2AM the Copper Center Roadhouse caught fire and burnt.  You could still smell it.  This was one of the original roadhouses along the Richardson Highway and was still in operation as a lodge and restaurant.  Just as things in the area were gearing up for Memorial Day weekend and the start of fishing season June first.  There are salmon in the river now.

A lot of the venues stay closed until the start of fishing season. So we are here at a place called Kenny Lake RV and Mercantile.  It is open because it is a combination store and gas station.  We have signed up for a drive and tour into the old Kennicott mine along the McCarthy Road.  The road is gravel in poor condition and we do not wish to rattle the old Pleasure Way to death.

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