Travel Journal

Gone Fishin......

(Saturday 11 August 2018) by Karen O'Shea
Denali National Park to McLaren lodge on the Alaskan range

Had a four hour van drive to get here. The weather wasnt great, showery but not overly cold. I so wanted to go fishing in Alaska and now was my opportunity.:-) I was the only one who wanted to do it, until the English couple opted out of canoeing and decided it might be more fun to fishhaha,,,,which I am so glad they did.:-):-)

We got a speed boat up through creeks; there wasnt a lot of water in the creek so we had to take the turns at high speed so as to not get stuck. I did find this a buzz. At one stage we couldnt pass because there was a tree in our way.. So he reversed the boat as you do.then floored it and off we took. Haha:-)

Basically he dropped the three of us at a remote creek in Alaska equipped with three fishing rods..bear spray..and beer called.IRISH DEATH.:-):-) Ohhhh the irony of the Irish deathhaha:-)
To say it rained is an understatement..it pissed from the heavens for the whole two hours. We got so wet, and to be standing in them surroundings with bear spray and beer was bloody hilarious.:-) we couldnt help but laugh trough out the entire time. Oh and I forgot to mention it was grayling we were fishing for..caught absolutely nothingbut of course exaggerated our catch when we returned to camp. Deadliest catch need not fear haha.So so funny..definitely one of my highlights so far.:-):-)


Alaska Range to the town of McCarthy (Wrangell St. Elias)

Today was going to be a six hour drive on the Denali highway then onto the McCarthy highway. I used the term highway very loosely haha.:-) Tonight we were going to stay outside the town of McCarthy in the Wrangell st. Elias national park.
Again plenty of views on this spin. The weather was wet but it wasnt too bad cause we were in the van. Saw some fish wheels in the water, which families put in to trap the salmon and stock up for the winter. Quite a simple smart invention. Again some really really small one horse towns again we passed. Stopped off in Chitina. Basically it was a few houses and an off license, but the booze it stocked was very impressive for a place in the middle of nowhere.:-)

From here it took us 2 and a half hours to drive 50 miles on the McCarthy highway. Now when I hear the word highway I think 6 lanes, plenty of slip roads and maybe a fly over or two..the McCarthy highway is nothing like this what so everit consists of a dirt road, all gravel and mud. I have never seen so many potholes; some of them were so big they were like a small lake. Its the only road into McCarthy and the only road out. :-)

The town of McCarthy is a base for hiking glaziers. What is in McCarthy, a saloon, coffee shop and a bus stop haha..Only 22 people live here during the winter, I can see why, its so remote and absolute wilderness.
Our camp for the next two nights was basic..no water, no showers, no phone coverage and no electricity. If youre not a local you cant drive in the town, only walk over the foot bridge. Our site was picturesque, it was next to the river, the water was fast moving, freezing and loud, and some of the ice from the glaziers were just floating past. And again we were in bear country so be bear aware :-):-) it will be nice to have to bear proof things when i come home :-):-)

Kennecott

This small town was built as a mining town in the early 1900s to extract copper and ore. Again how this whole mill was build, along with a town, running water, a school, a hospital, their own generators and railway line is quite amazing. It must have been really difficult to build a whole village, in extreme conditions and with equipment that mightnt have been the best. There must have been so many things that went wrong but they accomplished it all. To be honest they were not as backward as you would think, some houses had washing machines and heated boardwalks. The copper ran out in 1937 so most people left. And the town was just abandoned. Kind of spooky to see today how dilapidated it became from a thriving town that it was.:-(


Wrangell St.Elias to Valdez

In fairness i was kind of happy to be leaving McCarthy, just the weather and the non toilet facilities were quite harsh. (haha and I paid for this experience). :-):-) The drive to Valdez was beautiful once the weather lifted. Saw Thompson Pass which is the snowiest place in Alaska.

We stopped off at a salmon hatchery on the outskirts of Valdez. I found it quite interesting. Basically all the salmon are trying to swim back up river to fresh water where they lay their eggs. Salmon are born in fresh water, go out to sea for a few years and then return to where they were born to lay their eggs,(i didn't know this). Once they are successful and do get to go upstream they lay their eggs and decompose and die away. :-(

The salmon we did see here were in a frenzy trying to get up stream, and the seagulls were the fattest I have ever seen they really had the picking of salmon. What I did find a little sad about the struggle of the salmon is, firstly they have to battle and get upstream, (if unsuccessful they get eaten by seagulls), Secondly when they do get up stream they have to battle bears and finally once they lay their eggs they die anyway. :-(


Oil Spill in Valdez 1989

The Exxon Valdez ran aground here spilling 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. It did an awful lot of damage to the fishing and tourism industry not to mention the wildlife. The place has never fully recovered, only 13 out of 32 wildlife populations have fully recovered. The devastation it has caused is mad to get your head around.

Prince William Sound

Today we went kayaking around Columbia glacier. It was pretty cool and a real full on day. Thankfully the kayak was a tandem, (but neither of us were natural kayakers haha:-)). The amount of gear we had to wear for this.I had 4 layers on my legs, 6 layers on top, a life jacket and a sea skirt for the kayak (to stop the water getting on my lap). Then I decided I needed the loo..haha..now my friends that struggle was realllllll :-):-):-)

It rained all morning but didnt really matter cause it was still beautiful and I was still soaking anyway haha. Got to see sea otters, seals and lots of American bald eagles (which are massive when in full flight). And a few salmon jumping out of the water. Kayaked around some icebergs..now that was pretty special. :-) To be so close to icebergs was unreal, the colours were truly amazing. Saw two boats from the deadliest catch which was cool.

Another interesting fact I learned, Alaskans dont pay income tax and get $1000 per family annually just to live here. Imagine that!! The majority of the government funds comes from oil, but that is drying up so Im sure in time things will change.

Oh yeah..Alaskan weather??:-):-) Basically treat June as Spring, July as Summer and August as Fall:-) every other month is treated as winter..:-):-)

untill the next time....;-)xx

 


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