After leaving Glennallen, we stopped at the Wrangell/St Elias National Park visitor center which was just off the Richardson Highway. We explored their visitor center and found some informatin that had been eluding us until now. Friends at home asked us before leaving on the Alaska trip if we could bring them some diamond willow. They had told us to look in Chicken, but the weather was really rainy when we were there and we had no idea what a diamond willow would look like before becoming a walking stick. As we traveled throughout Alaska, we would ask at places we thought would be knowledgeable without any luck. While in the visitor center, we found the following information posted on the wall. At last, we now knew a little bit more about the elusive diamond willow! The visitor center gave us some information on campgrounds on the Edgerton Highway. They knew about the campground at Kenny Lake but couldn't really help us out with anything closer to Chitina. Looking through the Milepost, I found an ad for the Kenny Lake Mercantile and RV Park which included the statement: "Guests: Ask about picking your own diamond willow sticks". That settled it...that would be our next campground!
After getting set up in our site, we ate lunch, then headed off toward Chitina after getting some advice from the campground owner as what to see and do there. There was a viewpoint on the way to Chitina that overlooked the Copper River.
She sent us to a place on the Copper River just outside of Chitina where Alaskans are allowed to set up their fish wheels and can harvest 500 salmon in the season (per person qualified to use it). Once there, we drove around and found this working model. We really learned a lot by talking to the owner of this fish wheel.
Here's one of the fish he caught while we were there. We probably spent about 30 minutes watching. When we first got there, he had caught 3 salmon...when we left, he had about 15...not too bad!
Back at camp, we fueled the truck for our planned sightseeing trip tomorrow to McCarthy and Kennicott which will be about a 80+ mile trip one way. We borrowed the saw from the campground owner and headed back into the woods to try to find some diamond willow. We found a couple of pieces already cut on the ground that looked okay and cut down about three additonal pieces. Here they are and we'll see what they look like as finished product later: