Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wrangell St Elias National Park

This national park is the largest in America...it is BIG...combine it with Canada's national parks and Glacier NP and you have the largest area of internationally protected environment on the planet...and bugger-all roads into and out of it...sounds like a place to loose yourself! (or get lost)

As all regions with crazy geological features and earth movements it was heavily prospected and mined 'back in the day'. Kennecott is the remains of a copper mine in the heart of the National Park and is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen/been to!
For a avid bush-walker it has everything...Mountains, Glaciers, Flora/Fauna and Historic landmarks.
A photo of the mine buildings does better justice than to describe it...
It is amazing that it has was built at all and in the isolation that it is located...'back in the day' when men were real men and everything was built but hand and carted across terrain not meant for human habitation.
The mines are perched high up in the cliffs of the mountain were the copper rich seams were located...it was all dragged up by hand and later tramways (how did they pull those cables up has me still stumped). Hiking to the mines is rewarding exercise and then you get to play in the abandoned buildings which they just simply walked away from when mining ceased...everything is still in the buildings as it was cheaper to leave it and buy new stuff than cart it out of the isolation.
The minerals (particularly Cu) have created the most amazing rocks, the vivid green and blue rocks are constantly catching your eye. The slopes on the which the mines are built are hard to get up but faster going downhill...as the small video shows...the longest scree slopes I have every gone down...it took millimeters off my boots "skiing" down the scree...mostly out of control!
video
Once on the mountain tops the views of the glaciers were the best I have every encountered...the most memorable part was watching the scenic flights circle BELOW me while on the top of the peak...it changed my mind rapidly about paying for a scenic flight after that!
The converging glaciers and ice-falls (where the glacier descends rapidly to create huge crevasses) create the most unbelievably stunning landscape and you can sit watching them for endless time thinking of the forces involved and the power that water/ice has.
The Wrangell St Elias NP will remain my favorite memory of Alaska no doubt forever...it is a big call after seeing the sights I have seen this trip but what a place and probably the deciding factor is what fantastic weather I had whilst there!
Hopefully you enjoy the pics as much as I enjoyed the experience!
Hooroo
Tim