May 19, 2017 - Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

I’m itching to get out but we’re sitting in the rig.  Anne is on the phone with Elley.  Outside huge flakes of snow are falling gently and ornamenting the spruce trees and our Blue car, Candy, with blotches of white.  The ground is getting blotchy too.  I guess the fire danger is no longer “high” as reported on the park service sign at the entrance to the Nabesna Road.

The Nabesna Road is the access point to the northern part of the Wrangell-St. Eias National Park.  There is a campground at Mile 27.8 but the pavement ends at M.P. 16.  We had planned to stay at the first campsite at 6.1, but found it taken.  Can you believe it?  So, we had to drive another ten miles to this, the Kettle Lake Wayside.  The site is complete with a picnic table and fire pit.  The “famous” sign on the road says “Toilet 1 Mile.”  That is a long walk with a roll of paper.  The fee is $0, and we get half off as “senior citizens.”

Last evening we sat reading and looking out the windows.  From our dining room window the land falls off to Kettle Lake.  It is about three-quarters covered with ice, much as was Deadman Lake when we arrived there.  Between here and there is taiga and muskeg, many skinny spruces poking up through the sphagnum and shrubbery.  The last is still brown from winter.  Behind the lake the forest  rises darkly to the base of the great Wrangell Mountains. 

The peaks of the foothills at 7-9 K were playing hide and seek among the clouds.  Their brushy slopes are brown with shrubs except for streaks of snow and ice to the peaks.  Behind them we can see, from time to time, patches of the pure white slopes of the main range.  We have so far seen only the shoulders of Mt. Sanford, the western-most high peak at 16,237.  A high peak of the range in the United Statees is Mt. St. Elias at 18,008.  .  We have never seen it.  Few people have.  It is most important because it was made the boundary between Russia and Great Britain.  Now it is a cornerstone of the Canadian nation.  Due north of the peak to the end of the planet and east and south zigzagy far to the south runs the border with the United States. 

There have been various disputes between these two nations that heated up considerably during the period of the gold rushes at the turn from the 19th to 20th Century, but admirably these two countries have always swallowed hard and sought peaceful resolution through negociations and even third party judicial (mediation) decisions.  The slogan “54 40 or Fight” is now most significant as a reminder that we did not fight and are much better off to only about 49 degrees.  I believe there should today be more  discussion and promotion of peaceful resolution of border claims.  Nations should know that such means of dispute resolution are demanded by the people who do not want nations killing people over such matters.

Now the snow seems to be stopping and the ceiling has lifted a bit.  Still cannot see peaks but can see the dark slope rising behind the lake.  Perhaps we will mobilize to go out.  The (only) radio station has just started “Caribou Clatters” by which they transmit messages among those who cannot otherwise make them (because of lack of such things as telephone and Internet service).  Only one message this morning from a family reporting on their travels to their parents.      It ended with love.  One feels almost a peeping Tom listening to such a personal message.

We are in a remote location, some 16 miles off of a remote highway in what is often thought of as the ice box of Alaska.  So strange that we have a cell signal here.