North to Wild Alaska! 2010 travel blog

Bridal Veil falls on the way through Keystone Canyon

Such amazing beauty

The pipeline - underground and over a foothill of the pass

a cloud layer over the Thompson Pass

The fish wheel, which catches fish, a demonstration at Wrangell-Saint Elias National...

Whoops - the end of the road!

It is surely time to turn around - this is really close.

the view out our dining room window this evening

under the awning, and out of the rain

the steaks are grilling!

Pink Paintbrush

Siberian Aster

Twin Flower

Yellow Paintbrush

Date: June 28, 2010

Tonight’s Location: Sourdough Campground, Galkona, AK

Mileage: End - 45876

Start - 45719

Total Miles for the day: 157

Weather: started sunny, clouded over, rained in afternoon and evening

Temperature: start 51º

High 60º

Wildlife count: Tundra Swan, Pine Squirrel, Arctic Ground Squirrel. At the Visitor’s Center at Kluane Lake, the ranger told us that the Arctic Ground Squirrel was the only mammal whose blood will drop below 32°. How interesting for a warm-blooded animal to get to that temperature!

Woke to sunshine in Valdez, but it was our morning to leave, so we packed up and headed up Keystone Canyon and up through Thompson Pass. The clouds soon closed in, and the fog descended on Thompson Pass. We had watched in the movie about the construction of the Alaska Pipeline, how the pipeline came over Thompson Pass and through Keystone Canyon – what an amazing feat of engineering that must have been – those cliffs are straight up and down! We also learned in the movie that some of the buried pipeline was buried in Styrofoam boxes and then covered in cement, to keep from thawing the permafrost.

Drove up to Wrangell/St. Elias National Park, which is the largest national park in the country. It is over 13 million acres of mountains, glaciers, rivers and beautiful scenery. Unless one is ready to do some serious back-country hiking, it is inaccessible, particularly to old folks like us! So, we watched a dramatic movie about the park and walked a loop trail through a boreal forest, finding some beautiful wildflowers along the way. It was a great time.

We planned to stay at Sourdough Creek BLM campground for the night, and at 2:30 pm, we found the sign for camping, and pulled into the gravel road. However, when we got almost to the end, crossing a wooden bridge and going up and down several steep hills to get there, we found that it was a pipeline road instead. We came up close and personal with the pipeline! Now remember, it is not just us in the truck – we have our 5th Wheel on the back, and it does not turn around on a dime! However, John maneuvered the truck up a short road, and backed the camper down another road, and got turned around. It was a harrowing experience.

I rechecked the directions, which said to cross the Sourdough Creek bridge, and sure enough, we missed the turn, and had to turn around again! (the directions were incorrect) My sweet driver was not a happy camper by then. We did finally get to the campground, which is a loop in a very short boreal forest, and it started to rain. We found a lovely site, and though at first we were all alone, several other campers have since joined us. There are big signs about being ‘bear aware,’ as this is bear country. We were very careful about getting our grill cleaned up and put away as soon as possible after John grilled our steaks. Those were the last of the filets from the UMM’s steak dinner, and they were really great!

We talked to a few people who were fishing, so we are looking forward to some good fly fishing tomorrow. Sunset is 12:10 am here and sunrise is at 3:45 am. It is hard to get to bed with it still light out, but those blackout shades that Bernice made have been really great!

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