We had a long and interesting drive today from Valdez to Tok Alaska. Most outstanding were the mountain vistas and the beginnings of leaf color change. This image was one of our favorites today.
This morning before we left Valdez a North Carolinian (from Hendersonville) struck up a conversation with me in the campground. He and his wife had visited several summers on church work missions. They decided they liked Alaska too much to return, despite how wonderful North Carolina is. He invited us to consider staying too. We’re not ready to stop full-timing yet, but Alaska is really nice.
The 257 mile route was 99.99 percent paved and mostly smooth and easy driving. Shortly after leaving Valdez we climbed up Thompson Pass then followed Richardson Highway to the Wrangell – St Elias National Park Visitor’s Center. We followed a border of the Park for much of our drive, and then continued NE to Tok.
Ranger Caroline taught us about Wrangell-St Elias and permafrost. We stood on a bluff facing Mt Drum (12,010 feet) and Mt Wrangell (14,163). She dazzled us with a bunch of facts about the size of the National Park and Preserve, and the peaks and glaciers within.
Wrangell-St Elias contains fourteen of the United States’ nineteen highest mountain peaks, and is larger than nine of our states. 13,175,901 acres makes Wrangell St Elias Park and Preserve the largest managed area in the entire National Park system. Over 9,000,000 acres of the Park and Preserve is in the Wilderness area.
We spent very nice time in the Visitor’s Center perusing the exhibits and watched a 22 minute video in the theatre about this huge national park. The Center’s campus looks brand new, with five or six fresh-looking buildings. Ranger Caroline said she thinks it is around ten years old.
Our scenery from the road became better and better as we went along. The weather was superb, mostly sunny with a few very brief showers. This picture is a cool study in contrasts.
Sure, your trees change color in the fall. Everyone’s do. But do yours start before August 28, like these? The wooded mountains here are becoming colorful.