Sunday, July 11, 2004

McCarthy 2004

A couple days ago Jake and I flew up to McCarthy. We got a late start since I fixed my Loran and had to McGyver a repair on the pilot seat. We stopped in Gulkana for gas both ways at $3.89/gallon. I could have made it fueling only once, but I'd never flown East of Chickaloon before, and because of the smoke from the Fairbanks fires visibility was pretty bad after Gulkana, so some extra gas for getting lost seemed worthwhile. It was good practice landing in the gusts on pavement in Gulkana, anyway.
I hooked up my GPS finally, which was good thing - the Loran didn't work in the Copper River valley, and the smoke made the pilotage a little difficult - I would have had to follow the road without the GPS. I'd never installed it because I didn't want the distraction while I learned to fly the 180, but I really like it now. I programmed the route into the GPS from some topographic mapping software, then I downloaded the actual flight track to the same mapping software when we got home. Very cool.
At McCarthy airport we got a ride to the Kennicott mine. I'd never been there before and it was pretty neat. The lodge is nice but pricey - I think a short stay would be worthwhile though. We walked around and looked into all the buildings and old junk piled everywhere. It's not as open as I hear it used to be - the Park Service has everything under restoration and blocked from entry. It was really hot, sunny, humid and draining.... I'm not used to the heat, but it beats the usual Alaska drizzle, and the view over the glacier and toward Chitna was awesome.. . the smoke wasn't too bad right at the mine.
We left in late afternoon and didn't even go down into the McCarthy city proper. We'll go back there some time (Jake wants to go back), and there's a strip right next to McCarthy on the city side of the river (Old McCarthy strip I think) that would be a lot shorter walk into town.
When we were leaving, 2 couples from Arizona showed up in a Maule and a new Husky... both pretty nice planes but with tiny tires - ;-). They asked where the town was, where they were exactly, if there was anywhere in town to stay, how to get there... it seemed like a great way to travel - they'd flown up all the way from Arizona apparently without planning much more than day-to-day and were stopping wherever they ended up.