We did a three day backpacking trip out of Kennecott to check out the backcountry a little. That is literally "a little" because the Wrangell-St. Elias Nat. Park is the largest in the country at 13+ million acres. We had a blast while there! We didn't see any people out there, a few planes flew overhead, and saw no animals of any kind either.
The lodge at Kennecott. Kennecott is located five miles north of McCarthy via a shuttle bus, walk or bike ride.
Out in front of the mine stretches a couple of miles of glacial moraine, rock debris from the two glaciers receding in the valley. It is probably a couple hundred feet thick also.
The Kennecott Mines is a national historic landmark that is currently being restored by the national park service. It was a copper mine that operated from 1911 to 1938. During that time, about $200 million worth of copper was processed here.
This is the only trail that leads out of the mining area. We followed it until it ended which was about 3 or 4 miles, then walked up the Root Glacier/beside it for another few miles to the area we planned to camp at.
We saw tons of red bear poop on the trail. Soapberries are in season and the bears are getting their fill to prepare for the winter.
Need more protein!
The trail that we are following is a grown over lateral moraine. As you can see it drops off very steeply on both sides.
When the trail ended we had to scree-slide down to the moraine and hike through that for a while until we got up on the glacier.
Erie Lake was our destination. It is a glacially dammed, seasonal lake called a joukaloup. The lake is filled with water in the spring and early summer, but at some point something gives and the water completely drains traveling under the glacier into the rivers. The icebergs that were floating become beached.
We camped above the joukaloup looking out at the 700 ft. ice fall. There were two creeks that came down the drainages on either side of us.
The next morning we hiked around a little from camp, up the hill sides, up the creek, and then checked out the icebergs a little more. Our first night camping there we both woke up in the middle of the night when we heard a huge crack and boom. We didn't talk about it at the time but the next morning we recalled the sound of the iceberg that broke during the night.