A Tale of a Road Less Travelled

Day 1. Down the road less traveled: the Nabesna Road, accessing the northern reach of Wrangell St Elias National Park. Most folks have never even heard of it. Love heading down a new road. Hitting the colors just about right, heading down the Nabesna Road into Wrangell St. Elias. The first few miles are paved, then dirt for the length of its 42 miles. At the end: The beginning of the largest expanse of road-less wilderness in North America.

Camping above Kettle Lake (about seventeen miles in) in a pull out we enjoyed all to ourselves. Big adventures beginning and more manana.

A northern hawk owl came to visit us.

And the moon came to visit us, rising over the mountains of Wrangell St. Elias. A rare treat indeed with skies so clear. No aurora this night unfortunately.

Our home away from home .. the new little motor home we call “Homer” which will lead to many an Odyssey with good fortune. At our first night’s camp in view of Kettle Lake, ready for the next stretch of road.

Plenty of warning at our first camp that there are no facilities. People manage to use bushes and leave their paper behind for the enjoyment of everyone else. What’s up with people, anyway? We were glad to have our outhouse inboard on Homer.

A nameless lake from the view atop Dead Dog Hill. Dead Dog Lake?

Day 2. First hike up Caribou Creek. We hear there is a public use cabin up the way, and there may be trail crews working. We came across their camps, but they had left just prior to our reaching the trailhead.

Trail crews are not what they used to be. Pretty cool little all track dump trucks to help establish a road to be used by recreational vehicles, often used for subsistence hunting. Glad the crew was not working today. Looks like they can make a racket.

Outhouse with a splendid view. Who needs a magazine? (Unless it is a Sears catalog … some friends may know what I am talking about.)

Wonderful little public use cabin to keep folks out of the weather. Two bunks and a kitchen table and wood stove, along with deck chairs. Biggest squirrel I ever saw lived around the cabin, no doubt benefiting from the generosity of visitors.

There are WOW moments that get me to pull over and climb atop Homer for a view to share. A mixed forest of aspen and white spruce, with black spruce growing over permafrost.

Great geology everywhere.

An early view of the Wrangell Mountains. Another WOW moment.

Day 3 hiking the Skookum Volcano Trail. About three miles with an elevation gain of around 2000 feet. Many kinds of volcanic rock including basalt, dacite, rhyolite and tuff. Just dang pretty, cutting down through pink rock, which I believe may have been ash flows? — in Nabesna, Alaska.

Climbing, almost to the top, always. Feeder dykes cut through volcanic tuff

iPanorama at the pass at last. Close ups follow. — in Nabesna, Alaska.

This place rocks!
Spooky Skookum ash and tuff.
Got rock?
Yes, it is cold and windy. We did not hang out long on top of the ridge.

Heading back up the lower Nabesna Road, impressed with the late light and view.

Looking back toward the Wrangell Mountains. All volcanic.

Looking back down the Nabesna at the Wrangell Mountains. Tomorrow we will travel to the end of the road and beyond.
Geology in action. What goes up, must come down.

Day 4, part 1: the end of Nabesna Road and slightly beyond. Hello from below. A view looking up at Skookum Volcano

White Mountain, home of several mines we will visit shortly.

An older cabin at the Ellis Ranch in Nabesna, near the end of the road.

Whte Mountain, along the remainder of the road. At this point, the road is closed to vehicles, but available for another mile or so on foot.

We left the end of the road to travel by foot on what remains of the Nabesna Road which at this point is closed to vehicle traffic. (You will get stuck). We had planned on hiking to the Rambler Mine, not far from the trailhead. Along the way, ran into a ranger who, when asked what lay beyond, informed us of the Nabesna Mine another mile down the track. A nice flat walk today, which was welcome after Skookum Volcano Trail, and we are close to our destination here.

The abandoned Nabesna Mine sits on the side of White Mountain. Active in the early part of the 20th century, abandoned in 1947 or so. Still privately owned, and off limits, but no one to oversee the property.

Nasty tailing coming out of the mill. In operation and abandoned long before anyone could spell EPA. Lots of signs warning against drinking the water, eating local berries, and recommending a shower when done exploring the area.