The Great Wilderness

We love out-of-the-way places, and when we drove down the Tok Cut-Off we realized we were in one. The Alaskan Wilderness was calling to us, and we were eager to experience it.

The Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is accessible by road in only two places — the popular McCarthy Road to the south, and the less-traveled Nabesna Road from Slana to the north.

Guess which one we picked?

We got a site with full hook-ups (electric, water and sewer) in Slana at the Hart D Ranch (which is for sale; if you buy the ranch, you get the local post office in the bargain!)…


…and as soon as we had unhitched the truck we were off down that sometimes dusty, sometimes muddy road…


…stopping at a picnic spot to look out over a nearby lake…


…read the reminder to campers about safeguarding their food and scented belongings from bears…


…and smile at the directional sign for the nearest “restroom”:


We slapped at mosquitoes, but looked forward to the next day when we could hike this near-backcountry ground.

The next morning we pulled on our mosquito hats and covers, and tucked our pants were in our socks…



…we were ready!

It was a perfect day to hike — blue skies without a hint of rain, a clear trail…


…and Bob was ready with his bear gun, just in case:


We didn’t see any bears (or any wildlife, for that matter) but we did see signs that a predator of some sort had been hunting — blond-white fur was all that was left:


The trail soon turned soggy… (muskeg, maybe?)


…and it was nearly impossible to see more than three inches in front of our faces with those miserable mosquito nets so we turned back, far sooner on the trail than we would have preferred.

Later we’d hear that the mild temperatures and lack of rain had meant an even more unpleasant mosquito season than is normal in Alaska.

Rather than hike the next day, discouraged not only by the mosquitoes but looming clouds, we ventured back down the Nabesna road by truck to see what we could see and take photos:


We drove as far as the road was dry, stopping to let this grader do its job…


…and giving Bob and chance to find out a little more from the driver, who said there had been about thirteen feet of water through here the day before!


Back down the road we went, stopping on impulse at Moose Lake where we saw… you guessed it:


A mama moose! And… under better cover nearby…


…her calf! She spotted us across the lake, nudged her young-un into the brush, and stood watching us: a moose stare-down!


She won. We climbed back into the truck and away we went.

The moose was so exciting to see, it’s almost an afterthought to mention the beautiful Trumpeter swans on the water nearby:


Seeing wildlife like this — without another human being for miles — was definitely compensation for not being able to hike!


About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
This entry was posted in and Critters in General, Animals, Birds, Cool Experience, Hiking, Interesting Stories, National Parks and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Great Wilderness

  1. Greg says:

    Was it difficult or hassle to bring a rifle into Canida?

    • Ellen says:

      Hi, Greg! Bob handled the specifics — but essentially there’s paperwork to complete and a fee to pay, then you make sure you alert the border patrol going into Canada that you have the gun and paperwork. The CA border patrol asked us a lot of questions and we caught some attitude from them (best to just smile when they do that) but we’d crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s so it went well. Allow some time at the border for this — you’ll be asked to park and go inside and answer questions there. Depending on how busy they are, this could take some time.

      So… to answer your question, not really. 🙂 Of course, things can change at any time — so study up, then check again before you leave to be sure you’ve got your bases covered.

      When are you planning to make the trip?

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