Finding Nemo

 

 

 

 

 

            No, there’s not a movie theater on Wrangell, but we were camping in the Nemo camping area.  The Forest Service operated the camping area so we were expecting bad directions.  In an attempt to find the camping area on the first try we went to the ranger’s station to buy a detailed map of the island (95% of the island is national forest and has dozens of poorly marked logging roads) and get directions from one of the rangers.  The ranger we spoke to was confident in her explanation – “the paved road ends here (pointing on our map) so you make the first right.”  Simple enough we thought.  Well, out in the real world it wasn’t so simple.  Before the paved road ended we saw signs for the Nemo picnic area.  Figuring that the campsites and picnic areas were accessed from different roads, we kept on driving.  The paved road ended and the first chance for a right hand turn was a half mile later.  The road started out as gravel but within a hundred feet turned to an unmaintained collection of loose rock.  Not the road we wanted.  So we decided to go back to the paved road and see what happened with the picnic entrance road.  As we should have known, this was the campsite entrance (in fact we never did see a picnic area) and with in a mile we arrived at the campground host’s site.  The host provided us with a simpler map that gave the layout of the area.

            The area is a collection of sites spread out over a few miles along an old logging road.  The road runs along the western edge of the island, ranging between 100 and 200 feet above the Zimovia straights (a narrow cut between the islands).  The views are amazing from the road and even better from the campsites.  There were 5 campsite clusters along the road.  The last one involved a ˝ mile hike downhill to get to the site.  Three of the other clusters had 3 or 4 sites tightly clustered around a bathroom and were out in the open with no trees to be found (the Nemo area had been clearcut logged in 1988 and regrowth is a slow process).  The final cluster was the Three Sisters Overlook.  We think that it may have been designed as a group campsite because it had 2 fire rings, but no defined tent pads.  The site wrapped around the edge of a bluff less than 25 feet wide and around 100 feet long. The views from the site were absolutely amazing – not only did we have a commanding view of the straights, we had great views of the surrounding forest, muskeg meadows and mountains.  We staked our claim and rolled out the cabinets and set the site up in an ever so familiar light rain.  The next day the skies cleared long enough to get some pictures from the site.