Carson's Alaska Newsletter #19
|Location: Denali, Alaska||Date: July 22-28,2003|
On the Road with Fred and Barb - Newsletter #19
July 22-28 Soldotna to Denali
July 22-24 Soldotna to Talkeetna
We left Sodoltna to return to the Anchorage area and meet up with Steve and Robbie. We planned to rendezvous at the Elks in Palmer but would you believe we ran into each other at the grocery store in Anchorage. Decided to head a little further north for the night and then took off for Talkeetna the next day. This is a small town with alot of cute art shops. It is also the closest place to see Mt. McKinley and home to several flightseeing companies that take you around the mountainl. Despite partly cloudy skies, the flightseeing companies said that Mt. McKinley summit was visible from the air so we signed up for a 5pm flight. Unfortunately by that time the clouds had gotten heavier and there was only a little hole to peer thru to see the great mountain. But in our hour flight we did get a glimpse of McKinley and Fred was able to get a couple very nice, almost ethereal pictures. Fortunately the airline offered our money back or a raincheck. We opted for a raincheck since we were heading for Denali and the company also flies from there. Little did we know that ever since then we'd have almost constant rain. Good thing we had seen the mountain last time we were here though never from the air.
Our campground was located right next to Montana Creek. Despite the rain, Fred decided to spend the day hip deep in the creek trying to lure the salmon onto his line. Wouldn't you know he was successful. About 4pm, here comes a thoroughly wet but very happy fisherman holding 4 salmon on his stringer. Good thing the Granges still had a little space in their freezer! Any future fishing expeditions will have to be catch and release!
July 25-28 Denali
The drive from Talkeetna to Denali was supposed to be quite scenic with many viewpoints of Mt. McKinley. But we had a very cloudy day so couldn't see much. However we did stop at the Alaskan Veteran's Memorial. This is a very nice salute to all the armed forces for the work they have done in defending Alaska and the US.
For the next 3 days we camped in Denali, while it has continued to rain cats and dogs. The weatherman even joked that if anyone were thinking of building an ark, now would be a good time! The rain is expected to continue for the next 4 days at least and there is a flood watch on all the rivers and creeks around here and Fairbanks. We had planned to do some hiking in the park and take a float trip down the Nenana river but it has been much too wet to do anything. We've kept ourselves busy reading, watching videos, and playing games. We did go to the Cabin Night dinner theater last night at a local hotel. The all you can eat bbq ribs (and salmon which none of us ate!) was delicious and the show very entertaining. It did feel good to get out of the rig for awhile. Sure glad we are in a decent size RV and not just a small camper van!
We had planned to head for Fairbanks today but woke up to no rain and clearing skies. Checked with the flightseeing company and sure enough they said it was a go. What a flight! As big as Mt. McKinley looks from the ground, it looks even bigger from the air. It is over 20,000 ft., not as high as Mt. Everest, but some consider it the highest mountain in the world when measured from it's base. All other "higher" mountains start from a much higher altitude. We flew in an 8 passenger, 2 engine prop plane. Since we were going to summit the mountain, we had to put on oxygen masks at about 12,000 ft. (The plane wasn't pressurized). Besides the awesome views of Mt. McKinley and it's many glaciers, we also enjoyed seeing Denali National Park from the air. Our flight followed along the park road which is only accessible by tour bus. We got a great appreciation for the vastness of the park. It is bigger than the state of Massachusetts. Once we reached the mountain, we were shown some of the routes that climbers take.There weren't any more on the mountain because after about mid July it gets too warm. The snow softens and makes it dangerous for planes to land at base camp and for the climbers due to avalanches. After seeing the huge icefields and crevasses I don't see how anyone could make it up to the top. Hope you enjoy a couple of over 150 pictures we took during the flight.
After doing nothing but sitting for the past few days, decided we needed a hike. We drove 15 miles into the park to Savage River which is as far as private vehicles can go. There's a wonderful loop trail along the River and into the canyon. At the ½ way point Fred climbed up a short trail to the top of an overlook and while enjoying the view a Dahl Sheep wandered thru. Got pretty close to him before waiting for him to move away. Meanwhile I was sitting on a bench scanning the hillsides with my binoculars and spotted a hoary marmot rummaging thru the brush. This is a mammal about the size of a large dog - looks like a giant gopher! Didn't have the camera so couldn't take a picture.
Still with some energy left, we tackled the Horseshoe Lake Trail. The trail leads down through the forest to a beautiful lake with a beaver lodge. The operative word here is down meaning we had to climb back up the rather steep trail at the end. Oh well, I did want exercise.
So quite unexpectedly we had a wonderful day in Denali
and as I finish writing this there isn't a cloud in the sky (9:00 at
night). Guess the weatherman is as bad here as at home as they were
predicting more rain for the next few days. Steve and Robbie decided
to go on to Fairbanks as originally planned so we'll leave tomorrow
and meet up with them. Hopefully we'll have an internet connection so
we can update the site.
Barb and Fred