Going Bonanzas!

Even though our time in Alaska is dwindling, our adventures become more and more exciting. We have visited many amazing places and have learned about astounding people and events in this last week here. Every day for the three days that our group spent in McCarthy, we took a twenty-minute van ride to Kennecott Mill Town to experience the different aspects of this mining community. Our group was split in two. On the first day, one group hiked the Bonanza Mine Trail while the group that I was in toured the town and did some major vegetation management in the town’s cemetery. On the next day, the groups switched. So, on Thursday July 26, our group climbed the treacherous Bonanza Mine Trail.
            Originally, we were all supposed to climb the Jumbo Mine Trail, which is one of the three mines associated with the Kennecott mill other than Bonanza. But, after some extensive research, the professors decided that the Jumbo Mine Trail would take too long to accomplish in the time allotted. Apparently, the Bonanza is quite a bit easier than the Jumbo and wouldn’t take nearly as long. This was hard to believe since the Bonanza trail is ten miles long round-trip with a never-ending incline. Regardless, we laced up our hiking boots, filled up our water bottles and began our ascent at 9am. Before we knew it, we were stopping to eat lunch at a beautiful location after about two and a half hours of hiking. We were not pleased to hear that we had barely made it a fourth of the way by this point, but we wouldn’t let that crush our spirits and we trekked onward. Once above the tree line and into the tundra, the views were spectacular and worth the work. We reached what we thought was the end of our hike around 2:20pm. But then Glenn, our hiking guide/NPS worker extraordinaire, informed us that since we had about an hour to kill, we could continue on up to get closer to the mine. We eagerly agreed and marched farther up the rocky side of the mountain. Seeing the ruins of the mine up close was like stepping into a time machine. It took you back to a time where hard-working men roamed this mine, blasting rock and collecting ore. It’s hard to believe but the view just kept getting more and more majestic! Once we had our fill of green rocks and rusted metal, we made our way back down. It was tricky for a few hundred feet because the rocks were very loose. We came upon a slope filled with ice and snow and a few of us decided to slide down it. This method of transportation is much more efficient as you will see in my video. The rest of the hike downhill was rough on our toes and our knees but we managed to do it rather safely (if you don’t count Tori’s incident). I hope you enjoy my experience as much as I did!

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