Hiking to Independence

Hiking to Independence

This past Monday, the boys and I hiked up above Independence Mine, near Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna Mountains. In 1906, Robert Hatcher discovered gold in quartz outcrops here. A major mine was set up and it operated until the 1950s. Over 500,000 ounces of gold was taken out of these hills.

My family has been visiting this area since the early 1970s… hiking, prospecting, and berry picking in the summer, and skiing and ptarmigan hunting in the winter.

Hatcher Pass is only a half an hour from my folks house in Wasilla. We’re blessed to have such a gorgeous area to visit. By the way, when you look at the pictures I’m posting, you’ll notice that no one else is in sight. We hiked for most of the day and didn’t see one other person in the area we visited.

On the way down the mountain, we stopped and searched for more ore samples. I lost track of time, and when I finally looked at my watch, it was 5:15. The Park Service locks the gate on the road to access this area at 6:00 PM. If we didn’t get back to the parking lot by then, we’d be trapped there for the night. When we realized how little time we had (we were still above the Dream House at this point) we scrambled down the mountain. Yes, we took a few spills… we have the cuts and bruises to prove it, but we made it to our car at 6:02. A park ranger was waiting there for us. He said that he had watched us running all the way down and couldn’t believe we made it that fast.

It’s a few days later now, and it feels like someone beat on my thighs with a sledge hammer! Oh well, it was totally worth it.

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(Featured image Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass AK courtesy of Birch Leaf Photography)

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  • Katie DiFrancesco

    Way cool, Chuck! When I get myself in shape and get to Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine, I am so hauling my camera gear w/ me!

  • Janne Myrdal

    Way cool. Our boys just did Engineer Mtn in SW COlorado last Sunday. 13.000′ Beautiful

  • MaMcGriz

    LOL! I thought of you yesterday as we were hacking and cutting our way through overgrowth on the trail up the mountain to one of our best berry patches. It’s a jungle down here! 🙂

    I’ve sure enjoyed your accounts and photos of this latest outing with the boys. Sure glad you’re all so swift and sure afoot! I wouldn’t have enjoyed a story about an unplanned, forced camp-out in the parking lot….not to mention Abby might have spanked ya! LOL!

    Great photos. What a view! (Wooo that Little Sustina looks cold.)

  • Lynda

    What a fun time , thanks for sharing…

  • Awesome story.

  • chzn2bfree

    all this time I thought Parks close 30 mins before sunset…even in Alaska 🙂 the story is sweet, Mr. Heath…here you are guiding your children to be attentive to the rules because rules do have consequences, yet the Ranger ever so patiently waiting being gracious with the clock. The consideration you all have for each other is more precious than the 500,000 ounces of mined gold.

  • c4pfan

    Love this! Thanks for sharing.

  • PaMom4Palin

    What great memories your kids are going to have!! 🙂

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