From Valdez, we headed out of town to the salmon hatchery. This time of year, the pink salmon are trying like mad to get back to where they were born to spawn. Problem is, the hatchery can only handle 250,000 or so salmon. There must have been close to a million swimming up stream to it. They have created a wall so they fish don’t go up to the electric company and die there. There’s a small gated fish ladder for the lucky few that make it in early. The hatchery was already full, so the gates were closed.
The others flop around until their eyes are poked out by gulls, or are eaten by bears (we didn’t see any that day, but others had), or just die, rot and stink up the area. It is a shame that someone hasn’t figured a way to feed the hungry humans with all these fish that are going to die anyway. Amazingly, there are still fishing limits and required distances. But, those fishing were getting pretty lucky.
We were enroute to McCarthy, a 65-mile bumpy, dusty, dirt all-day drive. Along the way, we checked out the fish wheels, and while questioning their effectiveness we witnessed a salmon caught and slid into the nets on the side.
One of the highlights of the drive is the Kuskulana River bridge, a 775 ft long steel deck truss, 230 terrifying feet above the river. It was built in 1910 as a railroad bridge, but has been converted to a one-lane vehicle bridge.
In fact, most of the road to McCarthy is along the old train tracks. Poorly maintained and only for those with a desire to get bumped around all day. Once you arrive at the campsite, stories seem to mostly be around the damage done to your car vehicle.