Well, I’ve not got a lot to tell you, unfortunately. For various reasons, none to exciting, I’m in Anchorage until after the holiday. Around the first of the year I’ll be heading to McCarthy. Not for a trip, but for the winter. That’s right, I’ll be staying just outside a town that has about 5 people in it during the winter. I’m not sure how often I’ll get internet access, but hopefully I can work that out and stay in touch. For those of you who don’t know much about McCarthy, the photo posted here gives you a little idea. This is a sign posted by the side of the McCarthy Road as you LEAVE McCarthy, headed back OUT of the park! How often do you see signs like this warning of danger as you’re LEAVING the backcountry? The road is 60 miles of gravel road, running between the tiny rustic hamlet of Chitina, on the Park boundary at the Copper River, and McCarthy. It used to have a sign as you begin the road claiming you were entering ‘The Worst Road in Alaska”. It’s not as bad anymore, but the road does lay claim to numerous tires every year, and the odd van as well. It’s not maintained very often during the winter, from what I’m told, but hopefully will be passable. I’ve got 4 snowchains and a bag of gumption – hopefully that’ll get me around OK. 🙂
Once at the end of the road, I’ll be living in a tiny cabin in the woods; no electricity, no running water, no cable TV, and no coffee machine. I will, however, have my snow shoes, my crampons and 5 tons of fleece. It’ll be different, for sure, living in a cabin in the woods in Alaska in the winter – I’m not sure how many people have ever moved to McCarthy in January before. It’ll be quiet, I’m sure of that.
Like I said, I’ll be a few miles from McCarthy. It’s not actually possibly to drive in to McCarthy. The Road ends a 1/2 mile before you reach the town, at the Kennicott River. There’s a few parking lots there, some private and some owned by the NPS, and then you walk across a footbridge and on in to town. It’s kind of neat, though I’m sure I’ll think it’s less neat in January. Not that I have a lot of reason to go in to the town in winter – last trip there I was there, a month ago, I didn’t see a single person in town, and I think there was only one resident there at the time – most of the folks had vacated for warmer (and no doubt electrified) climes. There are other people in the area, outside of town, and it’ll be cool getting to spend some time with some of the local people.
It’ll also be great to see more of this place in the winter. I figure if I really want to photograph this park, I need to be there. Anchorage is a lot closer than Georgia, where I was previously, but it’s still a day, or even 2 day’s drive in the winter. So my plan, for now, is to head over after Xmas, probably around the start of the New Year, and stay in the cabin. I’ll be back to Anchorage every so often, of course, because there’s no food or supplies available in McCarthy – the “town” consists of 2 streets, and 2 cross streets. In the summer, you’ll probably see more dogs walking the streets than people. I’ll try to write a few more posts between now and when I take-off, and then keep you updated as often as possible. Right now I just can’t say how often that’ll be.