Alaska trip -- Summer 2008 travel blog

Moose cow & 2 calves

Ptarmagin hen with 3 chicks

Road culvert with steam pipes

Steam pipes

Mt Sanford and Mt Drum

Mt Sanford with Capital Mountain in front

A view of mountains in the Wrangell Range

Another view of moutains in the Wrangell Range

Cabin and old road construction equipment at the end of the road

Capital Mountain

Mt Drum #1

Mt Drum #2

Mt Drum #3

Nabasena is an old gold mining area about 48 miles located inside the Wrangell-St Elias National Park on the north side of the Wrangell Mountains. It is reached by a gravel road from the village of Slana (we planned the stop in Slana so we could visit Nabasena).

We decided to make the drive the afternoon we arrived because the weather turned nice, partly cloudy and warm and the forecast was for continuing rainy weather.

We'd gone about 8 miles when we encountered a cow moose with two young calves crossing the road. She was wary and they quickly disappeared into the bush. Later, a ptarmagin hen with a flock of chicks ran down the road ahead of us for a short distance, most of the chicks scattered into the weeds at the side of the road but we were able to get pictures of the hen and three of the chicks (the chicks are at the edge of the road).

We noticed that most of the road culverts had pipes sticking up. After some review, Maryann learned road crews with steam trucks use these pipes to thaw the ice from the culverts in the spring to prevent flooding and washouts. Since then we've noticed the steam pipes on culverts along the highways as well as the side roads.

Located at the west end of the Wrangell Range and part of the Wrangell-St Elias National Park, Mts Sanford and Drum are ice covered, dormant volcanoes. There are other volcanoes in the range, and one (Mt Wrangell) is still active, venting steam regularly.

Wrangell-St Elias is the largest NP in the United States, 13,000,000 acres. It borders the Kluane NP and Wilderness Preserve in Canada. It contains the largest assemblage of glaciers as well as the greatest collection of mountain peaks more than 16000 ft in North America. Mt St-Elias, on the border between the US and Canada is over 18,000 ft. Mt Sanford is 16,237 ft.

It also contains several old mining areas. Nabasena is one. Kennicott is another. While Kennicott is familar to Arizona for copper mining, the name originated from the original copper mine here. We will be visiting Kennicott later and I'll wait to tell its story till then.

We were unable to drive to the Nabasena mine. It is located on an unmaintained, primitive road that was closed. The village of Nabasena had a runway with several bush planes and a hanger where several people were repairing one. The village consisted of a few cabins, some new as well as those of old original log construction. There was also some old rusty road equipment.

The mountains in the Nabasena area were spectacular and we really enjoyed the trip.

Since we'd accomplished the main objective for the Slana stop the day we arrived, the next day we decided to make a trip to Glenallen with the intent of driving north to see some high peaks in the central section of the Alaska range. We'd not traveled this part of Alaska on our previous trips.

Glenallen is a crossroads town. The highway from Tok to Anchorage crosses the highway from Valdez to Fairbanks. When we arrived in Glenallen I refueled and we had lunch. Then we started north. After going about 35 miles, we realized that the clouds were obscuring the range and we'd have to drive at least 50 miles more. So we turned around and came home (the trailer). We were able to see the Alaska Pipe Line for the 1st time on this trip though.

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