Alaska Bound… Day 12

Switzerland.

Anchorage to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park

June 7, 2017

Miles Driven: 308

Sunrise (Anchorage): 4:27am / Sunset (Copper Center): 11:23pm

Latitude: 61.22N to 61.96N

National Parks Visited: 1

Wacky Roadside Attractions: 0

 

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is larger than the country of Switzerland and higher. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s as large as six Yellowstones. It’s the home of 9 of the 16 tallest mountains in North America – Mount St. Elias is the second tallest at 18,008 ft., behind only Denali. Mount Wrangell is the largest shield volcano in the world; it’s twice the volume of Mount Shasta. The park also has one of the greatest concentration of glaciers in the world. Massive plate tectonics drive the engine behind this spot where the ranges rise from sea level. They are still rising. Essentially, it’s an incredible park.


View of Wrangell - St. Elias

Also (and many may consider this a big benefit), like most of the national parks in Alaska, it’s not at all congested. It’s annual attendance at ~79,000 is 51 out of 59 of the national parks, 254 out of 374 of all NPS sites. For your information Aniakchak National Monument is last with 100 visitors/year. It’s also in Alaska.

We only saw the interior of Wrangell-St. Elias from a distance today. It’s likely that the only way to grasp the vastness is with views from afar. But it is breathtaking.

Become loyal to your innermost truth. Follow the way when all others abandon it. Walk the path of your own heart.

Thus the banner reads on the rustic restaurant wall where I am eating dinner and typing up this blog. I think that sums up what I’ve learned about Alaskans so far this trip. They are individualists. Each follows his own path. The paths are unique. You cannot sum them up with a neat politically-correct (or incorrect) phrase. They come from contrasting backgrounds and different cultures, which is especially easy to see in Anchorage. Basically, they do not want to be told what to do, how to live life. And exactly what that ‘thing they want to do’ varies wildly. Somehow, in the largest state in the union, they seem to make it work… mostly.

Hatcher Pass Mine

Typical Roadside Residence

As for the overall visuals of the state, they’re an interesting the juxtaposition of wondrous wilderness and ramshackle residences. Only a few more days to soak it all in before I’m back to the golden hills of San Jose. Well, the golden hills and the couple million bay area residents… and all the traffic.

Until tomorrow from Tok…

Safe Travels!

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