Alaska - Page 2 August, 2004

In the afternoon in Fairbanks, we took a tour of the El Dorado gold mine conducted by a married couple, actual professional gold miners, shown below. The old way to mine gold is shown on the left. Ore is hauled up from deep shafts in the winter when freezing supports the ground and then slurried and panned in the summer.

In the current technique, ore is machine loaded into a hopper in flowing water and the slurry runs over a long series of pans. The heavier dirt and gold settle in the pans and is then hand panned to remove the gold. We got to try it and much to my surprise, it was tricky and a lot of fun.


We then rode from Fairbanks to Denali on one of Holland American's cars because the Princess Midnight Express cars were full. Princess gave us a wonderful dinner free as compensation but we really liked the Holland cars better.

The first half day at Denali was open so we headed for the hills. Mount Healy proved a little too formidable for us. It was about eight miles round trip with a 1700 foot climb, the last 1200 feet in less than a mile. We got almost to the top but decided to forego that last 100' of mountain goat trail before we turned an ankle. Even so, the view was spectacular.

We rested that evening at the Denali Princess lodge, watching the rafters below.

The next day, we took a "tundra tour", busing 55 miles into the park looking for wild life. Denali park is larger than Massachusetts with a single 90 mile long road.

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