Its all about hiking, when in Denali
If you have more than one day of visit to the park, hiking is one way to enjoy and explore it.
Our bus/tour driver commented that summer in Alaska is an illusion and winter is the reality. Having heard that made us smile for that is exactly what we had been experiencing since we arrived here. It is summer yet we have not worn our shorts and tank tops! So when the sun came out we traversed some of the many trailheads that are near the Visitor Center and the ones inside the park. With the sun blazing we chose the trail that is labeled strenuous, the Mt Healy overlook trail which was very rewarding once we arrived at the top. This was a 4.5 miles roundtrip hike that climbs 1,700 feet and up to 25 percent grade. It began easy but steadily kept climbing up and the last third was the toughest where we used our hands for it was rocky and steep. But the reward at the top was well worth the challenge. What we saw at the top was a dramatic view of the valley with the Canyon Village, Nenana river, the visitor center and panoramic views of the mountain ranges. On our way down we encountered a Moose on the wayside busy eating his lunch.
The following day we were scheduled to go back inside the park for another hike. The day started sunny but as we neared the Eielson Visitor center which is at mile 66, four hours later, the clouds gathered and it started to drizzle but we pressed on. We went up to the Alpine trail, a 1010 ft climb gain on a ridge trail and quite steep. There were no bushes or tress but an unobstructed view of the mountain ranges including Denali if there are no cloud cover. This trail is considered a hike on the dry tundra for it is on the higher alpine areas, interspersed with scree (small loose rocks). Oh my, the climb began at the trailhead and just kept on ascending. To catch my breath I made several stops and admired the many spectacular wildflowers along the way. They were beautiful ! The view at the top was again awesome and just incredible. On our way down we got a glimpse of Denali for a few moments and then it was covered with clouds again.
As expected, Steve wants to do more exploring and would like to walk on a gravel bar, the gravel remains of a moving glacier. We did follow the Glacier trail for a while and then there was no more trail. It just suddenly ended and there was no trail towards the glacier. So Steve was feeling adventurous and searching for his own trail. After a few minutes of exploration and discovery, he found himself in the midst of wilderness, tall trees and nowhere to go. He saw a moose trail and upon seeing it he decided that its time for him to come up and get back to the top. On this trek, he found two pair of sunglasses. Yeah that would be a replacement of the sunglasses I lost while also being adventurous on a no-trail hike.
Since we were back inside the park, we rode the green bus again and surely enough we stopped at all wild animal sightings. We found mama bear and cubs resting.
During our seven day stay in Denali we wanted to go biking and water rafting as well. Both activities have to be postponed. The weather did not cooperate, wind with a gust of 35 miles per hour descended and rain came pouring. Oh well, maybe in some other town we can enjoy these activities.
Next stop, Talkeetna.