Today we are going to a small campground called Kenny Lake Mercantile and Campground in Kenny Lake, AK. This is the same campground that we stayed at in 2005. It holds a special meaning to us as it was here that we met our now good friends, Jim and Bonnie Larson in their Discovery. There has been an addition to the campground with a small restaurant that has just opened. We tried it for a late lunch and Dick realized that the proprietor had just taken a fresh rhubarb pie from the oven! Of course he had a piece and immediately declared it the very best rhubarb pie he has ever tasted, just tart enough and the crust was really good too! He later went back and bought another piece for take out!
Between Glenallen and Kenny Lake we stopped at the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park visitor’s center. We will be bringing Ellie here in a few weeks but we wanted to stop and we took in the really great movie of this, the largest National Park. At over 20,000 square miles, it is over six times the size of Yellowstone, two and a half times the size of Denali National Park and when coupled with the adjacent Kulane Canadian National Park and Reserve it has been designated a World Heritage Site and is the world’s largest wilderness park area. The far corner of the park is over 250 miles from the visitor’s center. We had been talking of taking a flight seeing trip into the park and staying for several nights at the Kennecott Lodge located in the park. We decided we would not do it and save the cost for a flight seeing flight from Homer Spit to view bears in Katmai, NP with Ellie when she joins us. But Wrangell-St Elias park is amazing. It contains three mountain ranges, numerous glaciers, massive ice fields, several river systems and 9 of the 16 highest mountains in the US. Nearly all if it is wilderness accessible only by hiking in or flying in for a drop off at one of the lakes or on an ice field.
After eating at Kenny Lake we headed down the road in the Saturn toward Valdez. The trip is about 100 miles each way. Guess we have adjusted to the scope of distances found here in Alaska when we think nothing of taking a 200 mile round trip for a day trip starting at nearly 3 PM!
The drive to Valdez took us through some absolutely beautiful mountains and about half of the trip seemed to be a downhill drive as we dropped from around 4,000 feet down to sea level in Valdez. The weather had been cloudy and some sprinkles when we started but by the time we approached Valdez it had cleared up to blue sky and puffy clouds. Along the way we passed the Worthington Glacier. It is located along the highway with a nice road access and a visitor’s center. We didn’t stop there this trip as we will do it when we take Ellie to Valdez. We also passed several waterfalls right along the road as it passed through some narrows, the largest of these is called Bridal Veil Falls and can be seen in the photo.
In Valdez we drove around the small town, walked the waterfront where there are hundreds of small fishing boats in the harbor, looked across the bay to the terminus of the Alaska Pipeline and all the huge oil tanks there. We watched an eagle swoop down and steal a fish carcass from the seagulls that were feeding on the carcasses of the red salmon people had caught today and cleaned at the public fish cleaning station. They have a long stainless steel trough that dumps the fish waste out to the bay and the seagulls pick at the fish skeletons before they get to the bay. Dick took several photos and one video of the gulls and some footage of a man cleaning and cutting up halibut and salmon. Will work on posting them soon. Dick is getting anxious to start salmon fishing!
We got back to Kenny Lake about 10 PM but it is still daylight. Dick took advantage of the daylight to go out into the brush near the campground and cut some Diamond Willow to make into walking staffs. Diamond Willow is a bush type of willow that has unique diamond shaped markings where branches come off the main shoot. The wood is very white and the diamonds colored brown and make very attractive and sturdy walking sticks. Dick cut four sticks and we stripped off the bark before going to bed.