HAPPY BIRTHDAYS TO YOUNGER SISTER LORRAINE AND OUR HANDSOME SON JOE!!!
Took Hatcher Pass Road last night, just a few miles later we found a pull-off and boondocked near the Little Susitna River. While the Glenn Highway is beautiful. It is busy with traffic so it is good to boondock just off a road less traveled. We woke to rain this morning, a temp of 51 degrees F., and the constant roar of the river. Also noticed that someone else boondocked in the same pull-off last night so they had the same quiet night we had in this beautiful area.
OK. Here’s the problem. Just about everywhere you look in Alaska there is a beautiful view. Is the drive to Hatcher Pass beautiful? Absolutely! Is it worth it? Absolutely! We stopped repeatedly just to admire the views. There’s beauty overload everywhere you look in most places in Alaska and Hatcher Pass is no exception. The road is a good paved road for the first 17.2 miles which is as far as we went as the dirt road that starts just beyond this point was mushy and snowy and we were warned against going on that road in our RV even when it is dry. The pictures we included, while lovely, simply cannot capture the grandure of the area.
Independence Mine State Historical Park–
While we don’t gold-pan or mine for gold, this historic park held our interest and we spent a good part of the day here poking around. There’s a $5.00 parking fee but the self-guided walking tour is free (get the map for the tour from the visitor center). We’re told there had been ten feet of snow around the mine visitor center as late as June 16th this year so can’t fathom what it was like mining for gold in snowy weather using the ice water stream in the winters here. There are many buildings still standing and some equipment remains so one is able to see something of the life of the Alaskan miner. Unfortunately, many buildings and equipment have deteriorated or are in the process and some of the buildings and mining structures have collapsed but most are still standing. The staff here are quite helpful and knowledgeable adding to the experience. Some folks do recreational gold panning. It’s allowed in this park.
One of the thing I have noticed is that most of the buildings in Alaska would not be considered “old” by European standards or even for areas of the east coast of the US. I’m from Boston and early on I learned to look for square head nails in building structures which would usually indicate that a building was quite “old”. All of the structures we have looked at in Alaska, if nails were used, they were round headed nails of a more modern era.
The best thing of all about this place is the surroundings. We can see why it is a very popular place for Alaskans. The rugged mountains are amazing and we even had a Hoary Marmot pose for a photo op (our only wildlife sighting today). It stopped raining for most of the day making it easier to see everything without being soaked through.
There are visitors here from all over the world as we heard many languages spoken. Some of the languages we heard we didn’t recognize but tried to figure out. The Hatcher Pass area is wonderful in any language.
Also interesting are the people that show up to a place like this, with its areas of snow still on the ground and very cold air, in their shorts and tee shirts! We’re probably are more aware of this than most as I get cold when the temperature is in the 70′s. We’ve seen this behavior elsewhere as well and it never ceases to amaze us.