The morning dawned quietly. We were a bit late getting up and most of the other folks who had planned to drive into McCarthy were already gone! By the time our dog walk was complete, it was 10 a.m. when we hit the road.
Immediately the road climbed from the Copper River. At the top, the view was very nice indeed. There was also a sign for a private campground at the top of the hill, but it didn't appear to be a maintained campground from the road.
The National Park Service has an informative guide about McCarthy Road (pdf file).
The first 10 miles were rough. Big rocks here and there on the road, very rough road in spots, so we just slowed it down and enjoyed the scenery.
Things got pretty exciting when I spotted some wildlife!
I was looking forward to seeing the Kuskulana Bridge at Mile 17.
The train trestle was constructed in 1910.
The sign said it, this was originally a train trestle now converted to a passenger vehicle crossing.
One lane only - fortunately visibility is not a problem from abutment to abutment.
The east side of the bridge has a good rest area with information signs about the bridge and its history. There are also some paths to the underside of the bridge for those that like to explore.
Carrying on the road eastbound was in good conditions. Not very wide, but good gravel.
Through this area the road shown on the GPS map did not match our actual route. The electronic mapping for roads in Alaska seems to not be too accurate. In this instance, the GPS indicated the road was a few hundred yards to the south.
A bit east of Chokosna Lake there were a couple of Trumpeter swans in a wetland area.
Next stop was at the historical Gilahina Trestle at Mile 29. There was no driving across this trestle! Again there was a spot to park and paths to explore.
The trestle is constructed from a combination of logs and timbers.
It was interesting poking around the trestle.
Hard to imagine the ore-laden trains that crossed this bridge decades ago!
Next stop was prompted by the flag person at the Lakina River. The bridge had been damaged months before and it now had a load limit of 6,000 lbs. The crews were driving trucks similar to ours, so obviously knew we were over the limit. The flag person poked around, then asked about the 160 lb. motorcycle in the truck box, then snickered when he said, "You're obviously under the limit" (wink). Then told us to take it slow and easy.
On our way back, a truck with camper was not permitted to cross and had to turn around. The driver of the truck was being quite verbal with his anger! The bridge was slated for replacement in October 2010.
As we crossed I took a picture southward out the truck window.
Not too many miles now until the "end of the road".
There wasn't much to indicate that the road was nearing the end.
I had read about the parking fees near the pedestrian bridge. Had also read it was possible to park further from the bridge for no cost. Saw a parking lot by a tour operator's building so went in to ask where the free parking was. He told us we could park in their lot for no cost and gave us a tag to put in the window. He said it was used to make sure they knew if a car was in the lot too many days, possibly indicating someone was lost in the bush.
Before leaving the truck we loaded the day packs with food and water for humans and dog. The sky was starting to clear of clouds and it was getting warm.
It was a 500m (third of a mile) walk to the bridge. In the image below, the Kennecott mine buildings are on the left side just above the tree line.
The setting for the mine is awe-inspiring!
And finally, a picture of the pedestrian bridge. Looks wide enough for an ATV to cross.
It was about 12:30 p.m. We figured we had just enough time to walk into McCarthy to catch the 1 p.m. shuttle to the mine. Pictures of the mine site on the next page... ...