Wrangell-St Elias Adventures

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While visiting the town of McCarthy is an adventure in itself, we had a few adventures planned for our time there. One day, Mary went pack-rafting with a guide. They hiked several miles up McCarthy Creek Trail carrying pack-rafts. A pack-raft is a lightweight inflatable boat that is designed for using in places that you can't drive to. Mary and the guide hiked up for several hours, put on dry-suits (a necessity in the cold water), blew up the pack-rafts and floated back to town on McCarthy Creek in about thirty minutes. Mary enjoyed it, but to me it seems like an awful lot of work for a short boat ride. I went rafting on a regular raft down the Kennicott River and like Mary, I enjoyed the trip and was grateful for the drysuit that kept me warm (and I did not have to carry a heavy pack or walk several miles to start the adventure). Since we were not together on these trips, we do not have any photos.

Our next adventure was a full-day glacier hike. Neither of us had hiked on a glacier so this was another first for us (this trip to Canada and Alaska has been one first after another for us). Our guides were two young girls who grew up in Alaska and had been coming to the glaciers in Wrangell-St Elias since they were children. Their grandfather was a glaciologist. The approach to Root Glacier is a two and a half mile hike, the last part of the hike is over scree and very steep. At the toe of the glacier we put on our crampons and stepped out onto Root Glacier.

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Initially we were walking on frozen rock and dirt. As we moved higher up on the glacier the amount of rock and dirt in the ice decreased. I don't know that there are words to describe a glacier hike. Everywhere you turn there is something new to see. It was not what I thought it was going to be - not that I had any idea what to expect. The crampons were easy to walk in and the diversity of what we saw was more than I had expected. There were blue pools of water, waterfalls, small streams, areas in which the ice was as clear as glass, other areas where there was more rock and dirt than ice, areas that appeared to be stripes of blue and white ice and other areas that were stripes of rock, dirt and ice. All I can tell you is that this is one day hike you might want to consider adding to your bucket list.

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