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Kennecott Mine

September 7, 2018

Wednesday 11 July 2018

 

Once again we set ourselves the target of departing by 0900 and leave at 0940. Today we have a deadline and in fact I had a deadline of 1000 so I’m happy that we are moving by 0940. However, more to the point I am really pleased with the way everyone had breakfast and broke camp. Putting up and taking down tents in the rain is an art form. Last night, with the last of the rain falling I was able to coach some on the drill of getting a tent up without getting into a totally wet home despite the downpour. There is nothing quite like getting out here and doing this sort of thing to learn the tricks. We start the day by getting our food and other scented stuff out of the bear food container then returning to the rock scree to set up breakfast. The weather is slightly overcast but up here I can see south to the Churgach Mountains which have broken cloud over them so I’m hopeful the day will clear up – given the weather moves up from the south. That proves to be the case and the cloud moves off surprisingly quickly. There is no rain to speak of, and no wind. Read more

From Kennicott to Kennecott

August 13, 2018

Monday 9thJuly 2018

Brad Grossweiler, our host, observes with his slow drawl that he was surprised no one was up when he came over at 8am. But this morning everyone slept in and caught up on all the frentic travel that has happened to date. We eventually dislodge (nice pun) ourselves and walk up to McCarthy, pause there then press on to Kennecott. Its an 8km easy walk up the ‘Wagon Trail’ which passes alongside the main road which in our continues to follow the original railway line and its gradient. Its interesting to spot in the road numerous posts that were no doubt part of original trestles supporting the railway, many of them around the McCarthy junction where the museum is located. Just across the road from that museum in the Soapberry bushes is hidden the original turntable, the cradle still sitting in its pit. The locomotive would be turned around here after coming up from Cordova then it would reverse the flatbed rolling stock up to the mine, collect the ore (in hessian bags) then roll down hill back to Cordova 196 miles away. Read more

The Road to Pothole, ahem McCarthy

August 8, 2018

Alaska Diary (3)

Sunday 8 July 2018

We hear a patter of rain through the night but not really enough to stir us. ‘Night’ is a misnomer for it is not dark at any point. The sun sets at 2315 or thereabouts and the remainder of the evening until sunrise is a strange grey half light bright enough to cooperate without a head torch or any other artificial lighting. We aim to be out by 9 and so arrive at the King for a Day campsite by 8, wrenching ourselves away from Brad and Ramona and lots of stories over coffee, with great reluctance. We have such a meeting of minds even after all these years. We find the rest of the crew mostly ready to depart. Tents are down and breakfast eaten so after sorting out the payments for the tents we get on the road just after 9.30 and drive up to the National Parks Centre, back up the highway towards Glenallen. We buy maps and pick our bear canisters which Brad has kindly booked for us, and educate ourselves on the history of the park as well as things such as the various scat we might encounter as well as what various paw prints look like. While I wrangle maps and paying for them the rest of the team watch a movie about the park. Read more

Willow Mountain

August 5, 2018

Alaska Diary (2)

Saturday 7thJuly

The alarm goes off at 0730 which feels way too early, especially given we chatted with Brad and Ramona until about 0200, including walking out to the bluff and watching people fishing below. Brad explains there are two times in Alaskan summer – the time people are active and the time they are not. Even at two in the morning there is plenty of light even though the sun is not yet up, enough to see men down at the rivers edge casting lines into the water. Apparently the fish like this time of the night as well. No one else is up even at 7.30 so I walk through the spruce to the bluff and look out over the Klutina which surges and races below, swollen by flood water. I scan the area with my binoculars, can’t see any one in camp moving and scan right, spotting some keen fishermen then continue my sweep until a fledgling bald eagle jumps into focus, filling the whole view. He’s sitting on a dead spruce below me watching for scraps the fishermen might leave about. He’s later joined by another more mature bird which comes close enough for me to get some reasonable photos. They are remarkable birds. Not as big as the Wedgetail and without projecting the same power. But they are magnificent nonetheless and let’s face it any raptor is worth paying attention. It’s hard to believe that there used to be a bounty on their heads. 50 cents a head in Alaska. There’s an interesting article here about it nearly being wiped out.  Their chatter is quite distinctive and we tune in to the immature birds calling to each other.

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Sydney to Copper Centre, Alaska

August 4, 2018

Alaska 2018

Diary Friday 6th July 2018

The idea started with Frank. Brother Frank that is. Sibling not priest, though he’s pretty good with sacrifices on the altar of Ruger 30-06. He dreamed aloud about going to Alaska and thought some fishing and shooting might be in order. It was a good plan. Still is. But in the meantime it’s been modified somewhat. A handful of our team have often wondered if they could get the wilderness experience but without the rigours of climbing. The initial answer was Alaska and our first discussions with friends Brad and Ramona had me thinking that a week long kayak expedition would be a good idea. It’s an outstanding idea actually. But it would still be too rigorous for some, so the plan evolved into something more tame. Not too tame, but a wilderness experience into which each traveller could stretch themselves as far as they wanted. The answer is Wrangall-St Elias National Park, the largest national park in the US, described as the size of Yellowstone and Switzerland combined. The size means little to us. It’s more appealing for the fact that it is remote. Our lodgings are quite literally at the end of the road, a road we are told very few Americans travel. And on the edge of that road, within five miles of its absolute termination,  lies a lodge which we have booked out for the week. McCarthy hindered by streams only passable by footbridges lies a bit further on, and Kennecott Mine right at the end of the line. From our lodge environs the adventurous can scout. And within which the less adventurous can repine with a book. Or beer. Or whatever. The lodge is a series of cabins overlooking a glacier and is well placed to be a walking hub to lots of scenic and historical sites. I’m looking forward to the historic.

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Vomit Rock

May 12, 2018


Sunday 18th February
I woke in the middle of the night (1223 actually) to the sound of violent vomiting. Three guys had rocketed up here yesterday, bypassing Camp Canada and no doubt feeling very pleased with themselves. If they were in fact pleased with themselves I’m pretty sure that disposition has dramatically changed. They are paying for their rapid ascent with this state of sickness. They came up so quickly I thought they were porters for a few minutes – those guys have been up and down here for three months every other day so they are well acclimatised. You can’t mess with altitude and the extreme vomiting suggests they have. I heard Eduardo leap out of his tent and move between it and their tent, no doubt dispensing medicine – clue being some gagging and spluttering. Ironically I drift off, then wake at 0300 with a horrible sensation of nausea which does not culminate in any vomiting but which is debilitating to say the least. The trap with nausea is that you go straight off food and drink just when you need to be getting on to it. So I get up for breakfast and stomach a cup of hot water and some dry cake then go and lie down and instantly feel better. Kavitha is not only showing NO ill effects of altitude whatsoever but last night her O2 saturation lifted to 90%.

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Nest of the Condor (Nido de Condores)

April 14, 2018

Saturday 17thFebruary

The evening was still and mild when I went out at 0200. Well, as mild as an evening at 5000m can be. In the far, far distance on the horizon, a pale orange light. A high town perhaps in the general direction of Chile. The sky is clear but the recently set moon still lights up the sky over the horizon in the west, so the Milky Way is not as luminous as it usually is. We are now camped so high lightning from a distant, unseen storm lights up the sky. There is no sign of any cloud from horizon to horizon yet the flash reaches us from forever away.

But when I wake (after dawn) the breeze is up and low cloud fills the valleys below us. That’s new. It’s clearly below zero but it’s hard to tell by how much in this dry atmosphere when no ice forms any frost. You can’t say anything like “Oh, we’ve had ten degrees of frost” by looking at the ground. The burning sensation on your skin is a different measure. So too the fact that the Nalgene water bottles in our tent are frozen up. With no breeze the sub zero temperatures are actually very tolerable. But the slightest feather of a breeze cuts you deep and is to be avoided.  Read more

Oberon Fossicking

April 4, 2018

The galahs chitter away in their high pitched voices and in the distance the cockatoos draw their screeches out as long as they can. The distinctive crimson rosella chit chat has died away as the sun has shifted into its peach sheets. A pup yips and the other two or three dogs in Black Springs pipe up in reply.  Then go silent. The faintest chorus of frogs has started up, so faint I have to strain to make sure of what I am hearing. We are in the Black Springs camping area which is propped between the road to Oberon (24km away) and the state forest. There are a few others here as well given it is Easter. More than a few in fact, though fortunately unseen – there are quite a few hundred scouts (some say as many as 1000)  here on some sort of regional activity. We drove past their campsite – a sea of tents so the large number is plausible. They have been invisible today but we saw quite a few dishevelled, dusty, strung out kids on the forest roads yesterday. Read more

Multans Sultans – Taxi Story (Pakistan 3)

March 18, 2018

(I use my time in the taxi to practise my interview techniques.  In so doing I suddenly realised I was uncovering some remarkable stories. Some are captured on my blog under the Taxi Story collection  – click on link in right hand bar to see some of them).

I’ve been in Australia for just five years. I had a friend who I had not seen for a while. I looked him up on Facebook and he said he was ‘at the other end of the world’ studying at Griffith University. I had no idea where that was so I looked it up and discovered it was in Australia. I was surprised but I kept researching Griffith. Eventually I went to my father, borrowed some money from him and came to Brisbane.  Read more

Canada

March 18, 2018

Friday 16th February

I’m sitting in our tent at Camp Canada. The wind flaps and chops at the tent. Kavitha is eating lunch even though it is close to dinner time. The sun warms the tent but the breeze is very cool and I can feel the chill of the ground seeping through the floor into my right buttock which is hanging over the edge of the foam mattress. Even the ink in the pen is retarded and struggles to lay itself on the paper (I have a pencil back-up). Outside our front door the Portuguese speaking trekkers are in their usual animated conversation. We set up a little stone table at the front door of our tent and that has become the focal point for coffee, tea and conversation. Read more

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