We are losing light up here is Alaska like it is going out of style.
I read on a friend’s facebook that we lost 40 minutes of light this week. It seems that fall and the first frost are just around the corner. I can feel the seasons change on the horizon.
I made it down to Idaho for a long weekend to see the family as well. It was a great trip and I was glad that I could make it down during the summer. We picked some huckleberries, dug for garnet, and spent a day out on the lake. It’s always good to be with family. I already looking forward to heading back in December.
After trying to mostly stay off my leg for a month or so I decided that not using it didn’t seem to be helping. So I started biking a little bit this week. I am out of shape and not able to go far for fear of agitating my leg, but it sure felt good to be back on two wheel. I was able to grab a couple pictures of Erin and Hobbs from Thursdays ride.
Last night we biked some single track down to the beach to drink some beer and celebrate out friend Robert’s birthday. The weather and company was fantastic.
Over the last few weeks, Erin and I got out a couple times and gathered roughly 5 gallons of blueberries. We turned half of it into jam, totaling around 40 jars. The remainder we froze, to be used in future baked goods, pancakes, and the like. I am pretty psyched on our blueberries, and hope to get some cranberries here soon as well.
When I got back from Fairbanks last Friday, I got a call email from the office that said I would be heading to Cordova on Tuesday. I initially wasn’t super excited about the short notice, but I was excited about a trip to Cordova.
Cordova is a small fishing town of somewhere around 2,500 people. The only way to access it is by plane or boat. My co-worker Kyle and I flew in on Tuesday night, sorted out our rental car and got some super stellar deep-fried salmon tacos from a taco bus in town.
On Wednesday we worked along the road out of town inspecting gravel pits and gravel bars all day. The weather held and it was an amazing place to spend the day. The Copper River flows into the ocean just outside of Cordova and creates a gigantic delta. This area also receives enough rain throughout the year to be classified as a rainforest.
The Copper River Highway is 45 miles long, extending from Cordova to the Million Dollar Bridge and Child’s Glacier. The area has a pretty cool history. The Million Dollar Bridge was built in the early 1900’s as part of a railroad that was privately constructed from Cordova to Mcarthy. The railroad was built to get copper ore out of the mountains around Mcarthy. By the time the railroad shut down in the late 1930’s, the mine had shipped out over $300 million worth of copper ore. The railroad was quickly removed and now 60 ft. cottonwoods grow in its place. We were tasked with trying to find parts of the old railroad grade. The only sign that there was ever a railroad is some faint lines on a far off hillside where you can make out the old cut.
The Forest Service has a campground right at the Million Dollar Bridge, and I have to say that it is the coolest road accessible campground I have seen. The cooking pavilion is less than 500 ft. from the face of Child’s glacier. It is truly stunning. In 1993 a massive piece of the glacier calved into the Copper River and sent a 30 ft. wave through the campground. Cars were moved, fish were stuck in trees, and the coast guard had to fly several injured people out. While we were at the campground for lunch there was no calving, but it was an awesome place to eat a snack. It apparently hasn’t been calving much this year due to low river level. Calving usually occurs when the glacier’s face is undercut by the river.
Unfortunately, you can no longer drive to the Million Dollar Bridge. In 2011 a bridge at mile 36 was partially washed out. The only way currently to get out there is through a tour guiding service. I hope that they can get the road connected again at some point. It is such a cool place.
We hired the tour company to airboat us across the washout. We then took a side-by-side ATV to the Million Dollar Bridge and beyond. The road beyond the Million Dollar Bridge is barely an ATV trail. The alder and willow have reclaimed the land. I was glad were were in a fully enclosed side-by-side.
It was a super neat place to work. I am grateful that I got to spend 2 days out there and that the only bear we saw was from the cab of the ATV. We did some serious bush whacking, and if the state ever decides to resurrect the road, they now know where the gravel to do it is.
I took along my new camera and tried to take some pictures while we were working. Here is what I came up with.
Pretty pleased with the new camera.
Old railroad track that washed out down the Alan River.
Shot through a dirty airplane window, but you get the idea…The place is cool!
I made an offer on this boat. I think she still has a lot of potential.
The Million Dollar Bridge in all her glory. Oh, and Child’s Glacier.
During the 1964 earthquake the final span (the one above me here) collapsed. It was still connected to its footing on the bank, but the other side was in the river. The temporary fix was 3 ft. wide boards (one for each set of wheels) that you drove down at a 30+ degree angle until you met the fallen span and drove back up to the bank. Our guide has lived in Cordova his whole life and told us that it was a pretty riveting experience. Eventually, funding was secured to lift up the fallen portion of the bridge. New supports were added, but funding ran out before they could shift it back to perfect alignment. Currently, the last span of the bridge is offset by approximately 3 ft from the rest of the bridge.
Up river from the Million Dollar Bridge is Miles Glacier. The bridge is in the craziest spot, between two glaciers. The bridge supports have ice breakers out front to protect them.
Not a bad place for lunch, eh?