It was a fast, quick trip through the Abercrombie Rapids on the Copper River, unlike the legendary stories about how rough it could be we navigated it like pros. Bear signs marked heavy use along the right shoreline and the rafts following us spotted a Grizzly sow with two cubs close to the water. We missed seeing them, no doubt because we were first to shoot the rapids and all eyes in our boat were glued to roaring white water and large boulders in our path. It was an exciting and exhilarating experience.
The historic Copper River and Northwest rail bed parted with the shoreline just before the rapids and curved to the right, we would not see it again until we crossed Miles Lake at the Million Dollar Bridge just before the Childs Glacier. Growing tired we decided to establish camp on a sandbar at the confluence of the Miles Glacier on the west shore of Miles Lake, our fourth night on the river. The evening light was awesome, a photographers dream, I busily shot photos of reflections, mountains, and landscape. After dinner a group discussion commenced around the campfire, we shared our thoughts and observations on the feasibility of building a recreational trail following the historic rail bed. All agreed that the remoteness and terrain were huge issues, and costs would be great especially rebuilding bridges over major river crossings. We discussed maintenance, search and rescue, winter and/or summer use, the hut to hut system, alternate routes, and more.
The next morning we set up a camera with the self-timer and shot a group photo. Members of this motley crew beginning at the top row from left to right; my husband Bob, Norris Nims, Tom Church, Jack Mosley, Dan Haas, Paul Boos, bottom row from left to right; Janelle Eklund, Sue Sherman, Helen Nienhueser, Bunny Sterin, Devi Sharp, Kathy Liska, and myself. Great explorers, all.
Gail Niebrugge, Alaska artist