On a recent trip to Healy, I was absolutely *ASTOUNDED* to see that someone(s) had repaired a washout in the road---so I determined to come back some day, and try to get to/get some pics of the second mine fire. So, on 2/2/03 Sunday--accompanied only by my faithful companion Rosie, I continued on down the road.
On closer inspection, I wasn't entirely sure that the road had been repaired--or just that a few very thick chunks of ice had formed in strategic places. Executing some . . . questionable judgment, I continued over two quite hairy sections of road.
Not being done yet, I drove until the road was completely washed away. It made it very clear to me where I was to stop. :) Then, I had to make my way across about 50 yards of deep-frozen glacial runoff. That was . . . interesting.
FINALLY (after about 2 years (!!)) of trying to get back to this place, I was on the other side of the river. Then, to add insult to injury, the smoke from the fire wasn't showing all that well---I couldn't find it!!!! But eventually, after hours of climbing uphill through dense--what I think were alders--I saw the "main vent":
The only trouble was, it was on the other side of a ravine; so, I had to continue on uphill.
Exposed coal seem, anyone? Walking in this area was a very strange experience---it was almost like walking on the surface of the moon.
Finally, after a few hours of climbing and searching, I found (as much by smell as anything else) a section of the mine fire. Shown in the foreground is my faithful, half-**** companion. She was absolutely INCREDIBLE that day. :) :) :) :)
Then, after more searching, I found myself looking at the main vent, from above. Note the subsidence. Also, please note, that these areas can be VERY DANGEROUS!
The main vent:
Another picture of the main vent--from the side:
Some "hot spots" off to the left (uh, north, I guess) of the main vent. Again, please note that these areas are EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!!
In getting back to the truck (a mere speck in distance, viewable only from a high [vantage] point), we made our way down a streambed. It was quite easy going--until we hit a geothermal upwelling of water, followed by solid ice--which continued all the way down to the river. :P
That was when we found something I didn't expect: another vent. (I smelled it before I saw it.) It doesn't seem to show in the picture (?)--but steam, etc. were flowing out of it reasonably copiously:
Well, I guess that is about it. It was a *VERY* tough trip (even Rosie was exhausted (a first?))--but I *FINALLY* got some good pics of the Healy's second mine fire.
A final note: This trip is not for everyone. The drive back to the fire is arduous, a wee bit dangerous---and probably not all that good of an idea. :) Also, while there is no technical climbling involved--the ascent up to the fire! Fire!! FIRE!!!! (Um, heh-heh. -Sorry about that.) is not for the weak of heart. Add to this the fact that the actual area of the mine fire! Fire!! FIRE!!!! (Um, sorry about that.) is in itself VERY DANGEROUS. . . . Well--I did warn you.