— Bremner Mine Base-camp and Trekking Trip —
Gold Rush Ruins and Chugach Mountain Views
DAY 1 – Your Alaska backpacking adventure starts at our headquarters in the historic Motherlode Powerhouse in McCarthy. Our professional mountain guides have been busily making preparations for your trip and are excited to get to know you. You are in good hands as they review your itinerary, go over the menu, and make sure that you are properly outfitted for the trip. After the final checks are complete, the excitement builds as you and your guide head for the airstrip. There you’ll meet your pilot and board a bush plane for the 45-minute flight to the Bremner Mine tucked deep inside the Chugach Mountains.
Flying almost due south, you cross the Nizina River. To the east are the remnants of an old highway bridge built in the “20’s” to access the copper and gold mines that lie abandoned near Dan Creek, May Creek, and Chittitu. On the south side of the Nizina, you fly over thick spruce forests, interspersed with shallow lakes. Huge beaver lodges, with their weathered gray wood dot the shores of the lakes. Moose can be seen during parts of the season, standing in swamps and shallow lakes with water up to their bellies. Soon, the large, braided course of the chocolate-brown Chitina River comes into view. This entire valley was once under thousands of feet of ice when the Chitina Glacier crept down all the way to the confluence with the Copper River, a hundred miles west. On a clear day, Mt. Logan, the second highest peak in North America at 19, 850 feet (6,050 m) looms far to the east. After crossing the Chitina you ascend the Chakina River flying over alpine ridges to Monahan Creek. An old trappers cabin is nestled into thick spruce forest below, and from there is a faint trail cutting through the dense willows along the stream. A little further on another small cabin is almost completely over grown by brush at the base of the pass between Monahan and Golconda Creeks. Just past the high point of the pass, a small cluster of buildings stand surrounded by rocky peaks and silent, high waterfalls. An airstrip is carved out of a hillside interspersed with old wagon trails, abandoned mining equipment, and weathered wooden towers. Your experienced pilot touches down and as the sound of the plane’s engine fades into the silence, you and your guide set off on the 30-minute hike to the cluster of buildings along one of the old wagon trails. Lupine and dwarf fireweed line the road and coveys of willow ptarmigan dance along in front of you. The Bremner Mine has a rich and colorful history beginning with the discovery of gold in 1901. However, despite the fact that the Valdez Tribune once claimed, “The Bremner Is It!” the mineral was never abundant. Arriving at the mine site, you and your guide set up base camp near the old bunkhouse, using it as a kitchen and gathering place out of the weather. With tents pitched nearby, you set off to spend the afternoon exploring the ruins of the mine.
DAY 2 – A base camp at the Bremner Mine affords convenient access to a wide variety of day hikes. A low shelf that hides a beautiful blue water lake breaks the high ridge to the west. To reach it you and your guide follow an old pipeline that once carried water down the steep slope to a small water powered turbine that supplied electricity to the Mine. Once at the lake you can skirt its shore and continue the hike to a higher ridge beyond with access to incredible views of pyramid shaped Hanagita Peak, a few miles distant. Looking north you are treated to a spectacular view of 16,390-foot (4,995 m) Mt. Blackburn, the highest peak in the Wrangell Mountains. To the south are the completely glacier covered peaks rising out of the Bagley Icefield. As the light softens you and your guide return to base camp for dinner and perhaps a “history” lesson for those interested!
DAY 3 – The day dawns bright and fresh and, over a hot cup of tea, you and your guide decide to retrace your route to the airstrip, passing it and continuing towards a boulder strewn basin that hides one of the hard rock mines high on its shoulder. Picking your way through the rocky terrain you reach a small azure colored lake, which lies at the foot of a steep climb to the ridge above. Using all fours, you scramble to the ridge, and are, once again, rewarded with magnificent views. On a clear day you may even glimpse 18,008-foot (5,488 m) Mt. St. Elias in the distance. The valley below is often home to grizzlies, and you and your guide decide to spend the rest of the afternoon scanning the region with binoculars for bear and Dall sheep. As evening nears you return to base camp and a well-deserved meal.
DAY 4 – Just above base camp are the ruins of an old gold separating mill and you decide that this is the perfect morning to spend exploring the oldest relics in the valley. If there’s time you may even decide to hike over the pass and down towards Monahan Creek to the shores of another pristine wilderness lake. The hike is sprinkled with wild flowers and the terrain is reminiscent of the Swiss Alps.
You and your guide gather your gear in the afternoon, and walk to the airstrip to rendezvous with your bush plane flight back to McCarthy that evening. A well-deserved soak in our wood-fired sauna awaits to ease your re-entry into civilization.
- Guiding and instruction from skilled professionals. Our personable guides have extensive experience and local knowledge, as well as medical and rescue training.
- Bush plane flights to and from the backcountry.
- Delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners while in the backcountry, including hot and delicious meals morning and evening, and plenty of trail snacks and lunch food for mid-day nourishment.
- Group equipment: stoves, pots, tents, fuel, etc.
- Technical gear: crampons, ice axes (if needed for route)
All you need to bring is your personal gear. You can find a detailed list of the backpacking gear that we recommend you bring on our base-camp hiking equipment list.
If you would like us to arrange your transportation to McCarthy/Kennecott and/or lodging while in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, we offer this as a free service to our multi-day clients. Please email or give us a call to discuss the details.
“A fantastic experience — wild Alaska at its best!”
Click on the markers below to view important points along your trip. Check out that zoom feature!