Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde
(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 5.”)
Part Six: Layover In Petersburg
(See photograph full screen Click Here.)
Sunday, June 27, 1971: We awoke to an overcast sky, yet without rain, with the sounds of birds, especially ravens in great numbers. The birds hovered, circled and gathered along a narrow, sandy beach at the high tide mark, while mud flats extended out from there. Philip set out with his 4X5 (Baby Deardorff) view camera for photographs. David made a volcano in the sand with cinders in the top made from seaweed with boulders of lava at the base. We drove on out to the road end past Depression era Civilian Conservation Corps built shelters and stopped before the dump for photographs of two Eagles on two adjoining trees, one mature and one immature. More patches of dwarf two-needle pine forest, beautiful white flowers growing in small groundwater pools and a prolific lupin. Hoards of gnats buzzing the area.
On out of town (Petersburg) on the Mitkof Highway and south along Wrangell Narrows. The highway was obviously built for logging access, a broad scar through the terrain with logging visible from the roadside. Philip took photographs of the despoliation and we ate lunch along the road. David and I napped at a stop along the Blind River while Philip made swamp photographs of dead moss festooned trees standing in the water. It looked like good moose country but no moose, or “meese” as Philip joked. The “highway” was gravel all the way. Occasionally the sun poked through. The town of Petersburg was noticeably lacking in traffic. We looked at the fish ladder on the Blind River. Drove across the Blind River on a wooden bridge. Stopped on the other side for photographs of iris and fritillary that was a dark, mottled brown. Looked at Ohmer Creek Campground (Forest Service-Tongass National Forest). Photographs of massed lupin in the meadow.
We drove into Summer Strait Campground that was unfinished but distinguished by gardens of skunk cabbage. A few fires at the water’s edge were attended by local picnickers. Philip made a photograph of a waterfall in the middle of the forest. At the end of the road we stopped for dinner and the night on the edge of Dry Strait. The tide was in when we got there and the ocean was lapping at the grassy edges of the campground. Islands in the Stikine River Mouth and snowy ridges all were visible with a nice foreground of moss-covered upturned rocks at a parallel slant. The gnats and mosquitos were bad but they did’t seem to bother David. He played outside after dinner with his cars making roads in the gravel. Then he found some gun shells and that turned him on to collecting them in three sizes and shooting them from a Nuts and Bolts gun he made. Philip and I went to sleep in the light about 10:30 pm.
Monday, June 28, 1971: We woke up late at 8:45 am, to rain and the tide going out. We started leisurely with Philip making photographs right away with the 4X5 view camera. We left the end of the road about 10:45 am. We only made it a short distance when Philip stopped to photograph again. He was after a series of cloud reflections, mud flat drainage patterns and shoreline details. All was in overcast light, but rich in beautiful forms and patterns. We progressed slowly on this stretch of road along Koknuk Flats. The low tide and view looking toward Wrangell prompted frequent picture stops. Philip photographed nearly through the lunch stop, pausing just long enough to grab a grilled cheese sandwich. It began to sprinkle before we left. The next stop was at some trees in a meadow near the Blind River for more photographs. Rain had stopped but started again. The remainder of the day we spent on the road back to town and at the waterfront area in town. Philip took a photograph of the Wickersham Ferry going through Wrangle Narrows on its way south. More intermittent rain. We ate a cornbread supper at the docks. Made a brief visit to the small museum before it closed at 4:30 pm. The town center was torn up for the construction of a new Federal Building. I put David down and then we slept ourselves about 10 pm at the Ferry Terminal to wait for the ferry arrival around midnight.
Tuesday, June 29, 1971: The Ferry Matanuska departed Petersburg at 1:00 am….
Continued in the next blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 7.”