The McCarthy road takes you 50-60 miles into the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park to the town of McCarthy, a tiny town trying to make a go in the tourist trade in the heart of the mountains. The McCarthy road ends at the Kennicott River (or did when I was there) and the only way to get to McCarthy on the east side of the river is a hand drawn tram suspended by a cable of the raging Kennicott River. Fortunately, all your fellow tourists join in in assisting everyone back and forth across the river.

Once across the river it's a short walk into town. There's not a lot to do in McCarthy. You can take airplane rides over glaciers and mountains (which is expensive) or for $5-10 you can have a van haul you north to the town of Kennicott, home of the abandoned Kennicott Copper Mine.

Being short on both time and money, I opted for the latter and was soon seated in a shiny new Ford van for the ride to Kennicott. Now that shiny new van bothered me. I knew that there had once been a bridge across the Kennicott River, but it had washed out years ago. So if I'd seen an old Ford van it wouldn't have bothered me too much. But the only ways I knew to get into McCarthy were that hand tram and by small airplane. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how they got that van to McCarthy, so I finally asked the driver. He said, well, it's a really big secret, but he'd let me in on it - they came up in the spring when the river was still frozen and drove across.

That's Alaska for you - finding practical ways of getting by in a harsh and unforgiving environment.

The Kennicott Copper Mine shown here was one of the richest producers of copper until the 1950's when the price of copper collapsed and the mine was abandoned. The mine is perched on a hillside above the Kennicott Glacier near where Root Glacier merges into the larger glacier. The Kennicott glacial moraine is the gray mounds in the left of the picture. Donoho Peak at 6700 ft. is in the center of the picture. By comparison, Mt. Blackburn at 16390 ft. is the snow covered peak in the distance on the left.