The guide was in such a good mood today because we were headed to his favorite place in Alaska, Wrangell Saint Elias National Park, but more specifically, the town of McCarthy. He had been talking about it non-stop all week and we were all excited to get there too.
I don’t remember the morning, but I assumed it contained lots of driving and beautiful scenery. We then got to the town of Chitna before the road turned to dirt for the next 60 miles. The road was built over old railroad tracks and it is still quite common for tires to blow out due to spikes still in the road. Spoiler alert, we didn’t blow out any tires (thankgod!) and our guide still has a 100% success rate for driving on that road. We made a bunch of stops along the way, including a bridge we walked over, Mama’s Coffee Hut (too funny, we crossed a small bridge and saw a family playing in the river and they saw us pull over at the coffee hut and had to run and open and serve us! Welcome to McCarthy!) and Long Lake before we finally arrived at our camp ground, which as we traveled along on this tour, kept getting more and more rustic and this was the most rustic of all because it only had one drop toilet, no sink or shower. (Well, you could walk to the hostel and pay $10(!!!!) for a shower or just wait it out 2 days and take a free one) Baby wipe shower, here I come! Unfortunately, some douchebag took the campsite with the great view of the Root Glacier, so we grabbed a spot by the river to toss up our tents. After getting settled for a bit, we walked over the bridge and into town for some pub grub dinner at Golden Saloon. It was at this point, I realized I hadn’t really eaten yet today and scarfed down my buffalo burger as we got a sales pitch on glacier hiking. The company in town is St. Elias Guides and even though I have hiked in New Zealand, I loved it so much I knew I wanted to go on the full date hike also. Other things on offer in town were just hiking around or a guided tour of the historic town of Kennecott as well as some way off the grid activities such as pack rafting in a glacier lake. The latter sounded awesome, but we didn’t know until we arrived in McCarthy if it would happen (as things tend to be in Alaska) and the guide broke the news that it was a go on our 2nd days! I was so in, so that meant I had to do my full day glacier hike the next day and therefore miss out on the tour of the town. Whatever! My order of priority went 1) pack rafting 2) full day glacier hike 3) tour of town. I didn’t really care about the tour (though others in my group went on it and loved it, so just FYI, if you are every around and pack rafting isn’t a go) so I didn’t mind too much missing it. Even though it was going to be expensive, my weekend was booked! I was thrilled.
After dinner, since the sun doesn’t set until late (even though it’s almost always cloudy), the locals have a softball game that everyone is invited to so we went and it was tons of fun! Some of our group played, but I just stood and chatted with my group and then some dogs ran around near me and they actually had tags, which we had rarely seen in Alaska! I started chatting with the dogs owners and turns out they weren’t locals either, they were up from Valdez for the weekend, but the girl just loved it here. (I know this sounded lame, but trust me, knowing these people came in handy later, you’ll see.) The game went really fast and it was over less then an hour after we arrived, which is so rare for baseball, I was telling some other people in our tour because they had no idea how to play.
Most of the group was going to take an easy day again the following day, so they all made it a late night at the Golden Saloon and then to The Potato for music, but since I had to be up early for glacier hiking, some of the group was headed back to camp, so I went with them. A quick pee and then gather up as much as I could for the following day as TM was going to have a lie-in and I didn’t want to bug her in the morning before curling up in my sleeping bag with my dvd player. Just in time too because by the time I heard TM come back, it was raining!