Tuesday June 19th
(A trip to McCarthy to pick up Andy and Angie -
We'll try again tomorrow)
We left early this morning for the flight to McCarthy, about a two
hour flight each way. It is southwest of Fairbanks. Sharon had cut back on her luggage
(first pix). This flight was to pick up Andy and Angie who had been hiking and
camping since last Wednesday. A bush pilot took them from McCarthy Airport
to a small field where they started their trek.
Our flight to McCarthy was really spectacular. We flew through the Alaska Range down to Gulkana
and then descended and flew along the Copper River (second pix) which meanders
through the Wrangell Mountains (third pix) past the Kennicott Glacier through
the Kennicott Valley.
Although the runway at McCarthy is 3,500 feet long it is listed in the Alaska
Supplement (gov't publication) as in poor shape with many ruts and 6 foot
boulders. When we spoke with the folks there before we left Phila they
said that the gravel field was in excellent condition, and it really was. The
only thing to watch out for is the North end of the runway which is fairly close
to the Wrangell Mountains (fourth pix). In no or light wind
conditions, you land to the North and take off to the South.
While enroute, we spoke with the pilot who was picking up Andy and Angie and
flying them back to McCarthy. He was leaving to get them and said we would
all probably arrive at McCarthy at about the same time. When we got there we were told by
the pilot that unfortunately there were high winds at the small strip where they
were waiting and he couldn't land, however he could see them camping.
We had planned to pick them up and fly them back to Fairbanks, so we waited
around for a while to see if the wind would die down. We did the tourist
thing (there were quite a few there - - - this is a real biggie for tourists).
This was the location of the first Kennecott Copper Mine (fifth pix) which is
closed but is currently being restored by the Park Service.
We had lunch at the Kennicott Glacier Lodge (sixth pix).
The wind conditions never did improve so we flew back to Fairbanks.
Andy and Angie are sleeping at 5,000 feet. I just spoke with Wrangell
Mountain Air (7 PM) (the people flying them in and out) and they said that
the wind conditions had not changed so that are not even trying tonight.
They expect to try in the morning, but there are no guarantees.
We had originally planned on flying with them tomorrow from Fairbanks to Talkeetna.
Since we can't do that, rather than describe
plans "B" and "C", tomorrow we'll just let you know what happens and what we are all going
to do. I'm not concerned about their health. I spoke with Andy who
called me on someone else's sat phone and he said he and Angie are fine.
We flew back to Fairbanks (seventh pix) around 3 PM and we'll try to pick them
(By the way, I CAN SPELL. Because of a typographic error when the mine was
established, the mine, town, and company names are spelled Kennecott, while the
glacier, river, and valley are generally spelled Kennicott.)
Sharon's Luggage - (much reduced)
Copper River (dat ain't rain on the windshield - - dem is bugs)
You Land this way, but take off the other way
Kennecott Copper Mine (circa 1920's)
Kennecott Glacier Inn
The Ramp at McCarthy