Valdez to Chitina (397 KM)
July 27th 2011
It was a good thing we decided to motel it last night. It poured in Valdez all night. As for Cheryl and myself we do not feel the need to camp in the rain on a holiday because, well, it just makes us miserable and not worth it. Our trucker neighbour finally settled down in his room around 12. Motel walls are so thin! When we woke up it was really foggy but you could see the sun. Had a bite to eat at the motel restaurant and headed out to the Salmon Hatchery about 5 miles out of Valdez to see if there were any bears or otters around.
Ms. Peggy at the Salmon Hatchery. She wanted one of us to get in the picture with her, but Leslie was holding the camera and Cheryl was a wee bit tentative of her!
Ton’s or REDS (Sockeye), have arrived this season but no bears for us to see, only one or two sea otters, no sea lions and only 3 Bald Eagles. The tide was coming in and I guess if we waited longer we might have been able to catch a bear or two but we had to get going.
Fancy outhouses at the Hatchery
The ride through the Thompson Pass to get to the interior was beautiful. Nice twisty roads, views to die for as usual and great weather.
Waterfalls are a dime a dozen up here. All coming down from the 100’s if not thousands of glaciers Alaska has to offer. Glaciers are everywhere.
It looks like rain but it never amounted to anything!
We love this picture!
a very lonely alpine flower
getting better with the on the fly shots. Keeping the camera more level.
The owner of the gas station was cute, came out an offered to fill our tanks but when I said no thanks we can do it, he looked relieved. When I went in to pay the smell of cinnamon buns was amazing. We still have not had any buns up here yet.
This is the little store and burger shack right at the turn off for the McCarthy road.
McCarthy is also the gateway to America’s largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias, an untamed wilderness of 17,000-foot peaks and Dall sheep-covered mountainsides. We did not see any though. One of the many glaciers, Root Glacier, spills over a 6,000-foot headwall into the heart of town.
The McCarthy road is a great 60 miles of a mixture of dirt, clay, crushed gravel, large rocks, tons of small, medium and large pot holes and lot’s of fun. The first 5 miles or so there was very deep crushed and large gravel laid down. It was quite deep in some areas and I thought to myself if all 60/120 miles round trip were going to be like this it could make for a very long day. Luckily the gravel was not so deep all the way up to the town. But, if anyone likes dust on dry days and some decent off pavement riding, ride this road. We went up and back in one day easily.
This stuff makes for an interesting ride.
Little worried about the dust and our past bike issues. We will keep an eye out for any hints of stalling. So far so good since Anchorage. Not one stall for either of us. The Tigers are really an amazing bike!
As you can see from the pictures, this bridge has a nice big rut straight down the center. There are no warning signs for motorcyclists and it could be potentially disastrous if one got a tire stuck in that rut!
Pedestrian bridge that takes you to the McCarthy side. No vehicles can cross over this other than ATV and motorcycles. The “town” is a pretty long walk after you even get over this bridge so there is a shuttle service than can help cager’s out. Kennicott is 4.5 miles from McCarthy to the left and the attraction is a once-staid mining camp and is now Alaska’s most fascinating ghost town.
The Town of McCarthy. Very, Very small. Weird vibe, almost like a movie set but there are people who love it here and run businesses.
Inside the General Store and it is very cute and looks new.
Heading back over the pedestrian bridge from our short visit to McCarthy.
Now pay attention! If you are ever up this way do not do what we did. We did not gas up before we headed up the McCarthy road. We got up top, there is NO gas and it was only 4.5 miles to Kennicott and we did not go because of fear of running out of gas. We had a little over 100 KM’s to do before gas in Chitina, going to Kennicott would have added another 9 miles to our tanks and we only had 129 KM’s left according to our gauge. Not willing to risk running out of gas and having to rely on others we skipped the mine. Boo!
Then we were going to stay at the Glacier View campsite but also decided to pass and head out of the McCarthy road and find camping down in the valley somewhere.
This is the Glacier View camp ground’s outhouse. Another real literal stinker. You also felt like you were going to tip into the river it was leaning so much. Next to the toilet is a shower. At least the owner has provided indoor plumbing of sorts.
Not many pictures on our way out because my battery for my camera was running low. I had a feeling we would not have electricity this night so I wanted to spare the battery until I knew where we would end up for the night.
In the above picture is Sunshine. She and I think her husband live on this 1 1/4 acre property and opened up a Trading Post store about a year ago. She is located about 30 miles in on the McCarthy road after it turns to dirt. They have no electricity or indoor plumbing/running water. They get their water from the river and use a generator. Great little store and Sunshine has a little of everything from tire repair stuff to food.
Stop by her store if you are in this neck of the woods. Sunshine was very sweet and even offered us a free beverage.
After we got out of the road we were told of free camping by the mining bridge. We first got gas and some snacks in Chitina and then were told the free camping is full of fishermen who like to party after their day out. We were not into that even if it was free. Then we headed to a RV camping site by the “airport”. That did not have a good feel either. Cheryl took a walkabout this seedy little campground and saw a bunch of broken beer and liquor bottles and said “NO way are we staying here.” Off we went yet again in search for a place to camp and by this time it was about 1900 hrs. We stumbled across the State Park Liberty Falls and it was perfect. Running stream and small. Only a few campers and even platforms for our tent.
No electricity but they have a pump for fresh water!
Throughout the trip every once in awhile I need to use our invertor to charge things like our headsets and camera or even the computer. I have been using this off both bikes battery and being mindful not to drain the batteries as well. So far it has been working out great. No issues with starting the bikes and we get things charged enough for the day.
Thanks to the freezing cold stream our beer was able to be chilled for us by the time we were ready to drink it. Natures refrigerator!
We met a really nice family from Kanas City and Texas. They asked about our bikes, we told them we were riding with Triumph and to raise awareness for Autism. They offered cold beers and were just genuinely interested in where we have been and where we were going. Nice folks. The Patriarch Tom said this campground was flooded years ago and the landscape has changed a lot since then. He and his wife have been coming up here for 30 years from Kansas City. I was supposed to take their picture but never did.