I left Fred Meyer in Soldotna and drove northeast until I reached the turn to Hope, Alaska. The highway to Hope runs along the south side of Turnagain Arm, crossing many rivers that feed into the tidal basin. It was a pretty drive with views of Turnagain Arm in several pullouts along the road.
The Sixmile Creek that Hope Highway follows for a few miles is popular with rafters for its Class IV and V rapids. Only experienced river runners attempt the adventure. The company that offers the rafts and shuttle sometimes require participants to demonstrate they can swim across the river before they can sign on.
Hope is a ramshackle sort of town of 150 residents. Many of the old cabins have been preserved and the only new buildings are the post office and a well maintained bed and breakfast. It has a couple of cafes’, and of course, bait-n-tackle shops.
The main reason to come to Hope this time of year is to fish for salmon in Resurrection Creek. I saw many fishermen standing in the water as I crossed the creek. I’m not a fisherman and I don’t want to do a Class V rafting adventure so I went to the local museum for my afternoon entertainment.
The museum had many pieces of mining equipment on display along with preserved cabins that some of the first residents used in the early gold rush. I spent quite a bit of time talking with the lady that runs the museum. She has lived in Hope for the last 40 years, and explained in more detail than I wanted, extensive history of the town. I don’t think she get a lot of people that stop and visit for a while.
When I left the museum, she told me of a camping spot six miles out of town on the Resurrection River where it is legal to pan for gold. I drove up and settled into a spot for the night. I asked the Forest Ranger at the parking area if I was alright to camp here. She said that technically it was not for camping but no one would say anything about me staying a couple nights.
I took my pan down to the river after dinner and found several flakes of gold in my first two pans. I wanted to play gold-miner a little longer but the water was ice-cold, the bugs were out, and it was starting to sprinkle. I jumped back into Minnie just as a heavy rain started.
A while later a couple drove up on quads. The man was pulling a dredge on a trailer so I went over to talk to him. He said they own a claim up the river. He puts on a wet suit and crawls around in the river with a suction hose attached to the dredge. I figured it wasn’t any of my business so I didn’t ask him if the make much money dredging the river. I would like to know, though.