Another celebration that happened during my visit was the dedication of the new Walden Point Road. It goes from Metlakatla north about 15 miles north to the end of the Island towards Ketchikan. The idea is to only have a short ferry ride across a channel rather than the usual hour and a half. It's supposedly been the dream of some for many years. Many, like myself, think there's potential for a LOT of accidents on it as well as opening up the island to nonmembers to do who knows what. Many wonder the reasoning for it's being built and were looking forward to hearing more about it. You're not even gonna believe what the town Mayor kept repeating during one of the many speeches. He said, and I quote, "we don't know why we're building this road but our children will."
Is that not incredulous or what?!?! Oh well. It's being built by the military and is a VERY big but little known operation. I thought it was nearly completed seeing how a dedication ceremony was being held complete with congressmen, generals, and other dignitaries. Most of the dirt work is completed except for the ends. They're both so steep it's difficult right now for a normal vehicle to climb. On a positive note, if and when, it's paved it'll probably turn out to be my new favorite sportbike road in all of Alaska.
Google Earth it. You'll be amazed! Because of the war in Iraq now there's question about when it may ever be paved tho.
The general public still isn't allowed to drive on it and there's a gate on the end. The evening before many visitors were scheduled to leave I was riding around the island with 4 lovely girls just having fun laughing and carrying on.
The driver, Roxie, who's one of the most humorous people I know, decides that we should try to go up the road in her little Subaru. We get to the gate as a couple guards are getting ready to lock it up. I got to see a lot of humorous sweet talking in action that led to us be able to go up and onto the road!
Too funny. Anyway after a failed first attempt, a few of us had to get out so the Subie could make it up the first part. From there on it was an amazing road.
The unsuspecting guards.
To further illustrate the steepness of this section this is a photo I took the next day when I had to climb up the first part on my way up Purple Mountain. It's an empty cement mixer coming down. It's rear wheels were totally locking up, a hoppin and a skippin all the way down! Wild! There was a bulldozer parked at the top with a chain to pull rigs like this UP the road. I used to do road construction like this so I was amused.
So here are some scenery shots from an angle few have ever seen.
Yay! We made it back down the road alive! We'll celebrate with photos of some of the fireworks that could be found in ABUNDANCE on the beach every night! Many locals had spent hundreds of dollars on fireworks that were shot off throughout the week. The town also put on a show that rivaled any I've seen in Anchorage!
The next day after most visitors left, Comet and I climbed Purple Mountain behind town. I was really hoping to do this for the sweeping panorama at the top. Many locals haven't even been to the top. I've climbed it a few times over the years and enjoy walking up the pipe that carries the towns drinking water down from Chester Lake up between Purple and Leadville Mountains. Last time here, locals told me that they'd never seen a dog walk the pipe before. Too funny.
Yellow Hill and some of the twisties on the way out to the runway. The smoke is from the garbage dump where everything is just burned in the open.
Views from the top starting with Chester Lake where Metlakatla gets it's drinking water.
Four mile long Puple Lake behind the mountain. I once carried a lightweight canoe up to this lake and paddled across it. Fun!
Looking towards the south end of the island with the runway barely visible. The tip of Purple Lake is in the lower left and Tamgas Harbor beyond.
Looking east towards the backside of the island.
The ravens seem to enjoy riding the thermals off the mountain.
Looking north towards Walden Point Road with Ketchikan in the background.
Some lovely higher altitude flora that I couldn't even identify with Verna Pratt's book 'Alaskan Wildflowers'.
Comet sure seems to be doing a lot of squinting in this unplanned wonderful bright sunshine!
Well, shall we head on down now?
Back down on the dry and dusty road. I'd say Comet has pretty good camo for this terrain.
Coming up: some of my best ever sunset shots in Southeast Alaska!