4048 Laurel Street, Ste 202
Anchorage, Alaska 99508
Tel (907) 561-1711
email: IPTalaska@gmail.com

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2011- Most recent post | pages: 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12|13|14|15|16|17|18|19|20|21|22|23|24| this is page: 16

Denali 2011 (a journey): We sat there taking it all in, the Alaska Range in the warm early morning light. A few remnant clouds lingered after the typical rainy, cloudy weather that is common during an Alaskan Fall.  I realize I’ve lost track of how many times I have been into Denali National Park at this point. It’s enough times that I think about skipping it, doing something different “next year”. Then, I stand before this scene, I’m rendered speechless, my jaw falls to the floor, and I find myself looking forward again to the next year! There is just no way to accurately describe what this looks like in person. The images, as beautiful as they may be, do it little justice. The few people that were around me, who were also in awe, echoed a similar sentiment.

Getting to see this scene is not easy. It takes at the least, a really long bus ride on a bumpy dirt road and a favorable weather situation. It almost always involves dealing with getting rained on (or snowed on), at some point and looking at cloud banks.  Often the mountain peak, or its flanks peak in and out from behind the clouds. The scene teases your imagination, leaves you wondering what is hidden within. Then it happens, one day the skies clear and before your eyes is one of the most amazing vistas on the planet, Denali in its full glory.

peak

The clouds almost reveal one of the two summits on Denali

flanks

Just before Sunset the clouds parts and reveal the glaciated flanks of Denali

full on

Denali nearly fully exposed and massive as can be, unreal to see in person. Did you know that Everest, though the tallest mountain, actually has significantly less vertical gain from its base to its summit than Denali does? It's true.
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I remember the very first time I was in the park. I was from NY on Vacation and all I knew about Denali National Park had come from photographs I had seen and a few little articles.  I had no idea where “the mountain” should be when I looked around. In fact I saw what nearly 80% of the visitors to Denali NP see, clouds (that might be because they often come into the park for a day, or less. I usually stay 4 or 5 days or more when I go and to the best of my recollection have seen the mountain about every time).

In my mind at the time the “smaller mountains below and neighboring Denali were pretty awesome themselves. It was hard for me to comprehend what “the Mountain” looked like since I thought the “foothills” and lower mountains were pretty rugged and impressive (as well as the many, many mountains in the area not part of the “Alaska Range”). So when we rolled into the park to a scene of clouds moving in and rain after a long work week and a long bumpy bus ride I was not elated. It wasn’t raining where we were camping (yet) so I was happy to get the tent up in decent weather. So we are almost done and I feel a sprinkle or two. Wouldn’t you know it, the heavens opened up not long afterwards. We made a mad dash throwing gear in the tent. Luckily the rainfly was on, just not staked out.  So, it really gets to raining and suddenly I realize the rain is running down the sides of the tent and rolling right underneath it! Things are getting wet! Ugh, all we need is wet down sleeping bags in an area where it commonly gets below freezing at night! We scurry around and get the fly staked out but the damage is down. Thankfully nothing got too wet, and the temps were mild. Well, not so sure the mild temps were that great. There were bugs out there! What the heck, yuck! That is one thing I like about fall camping, no bugs. Turns out they only had one frost this year so far so a lot of the pests lingered. Call it Global Warming, or just a natural cycle, but it is warmer for sure. In the past three years there has been little frost and the temps seem higher. In years before it would get into the teens sometimes! I’d be up in the AM (or at night) wearing a down jacket with ear covers, gloves, and heavy fleece pants. It hasn’t been that way the past few years. I was strolling around in a Tee Shirt most of the time this year, maybe a midweight fleece.

bandw

Glaciated

sunrise

Breaking free!

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