Alaska Part 3; Denali National Park

Denali Overlook, on the way to Denali National Park
     After spending a few days in a cabin outside Talkeetna Alaska, Steven, Jenny,  Ryan and I shoved all of our camping gear into a tiny bug encrusted Ford Focus and headed north on the Parks Highway towards Trapper Creek and Denali National Park. We had a great few days in Talkeetna exploring the region, swimming in the deserted lake, even using the private outdoor jacuzzi that came with our cabin.
      I mean discovering that an outdoors jacuzzi is not the best idea in Alaska when wet mosquito’s are sticking to your face and biting you and landing in your beer.  After the beer filled mosquito tasting we were ready to hit the road and approach the next adventure.
     The drive to the north took awhile. It should have only been a few hours but in Alaska they have to get all the road construction for one year done in the few sunny months between June and August. Which means when you get stuck behind road construction you could be waiting for hours. That’s why you read the guide books; So your not surprised by a two hour delay, sitting in a dirty rental car with the windows up so the ‘squitos don’t get in with two smelly boys and a smelly Amber and I’m pretty sure one of us just farted. Its going to be a long day.





Caribou



       Once the traffic started moving again we traveled up in altitude and over hills through the tundra and taiga. It was like no forest I’ve ever seen before. Most trees can’t grow here because of the permafrost. Their roots can’t go deep enough. The black spruce are everywhere; I guess they are pretty in a spooky kind of way., they kind of make sense in this forest where it is so hard to survive the winters. The only houses we passed on the drive were tiny one room cabins. There were dirt roads branching off here and there to ATV and hunting trails. That was pretty much it between Talkeetna and Denali national park.
       We had stopped at the Fred Meyers in Wasilla to each buy a CD and also because we were addicted to Fred Meyers, which we do not have in So Cal. Fred Meyers is awesome! They have everything! Its like if Walmart, Nordstoms and Whole Foods were all combined into one amazing store! Plus they had this panini in their deli at the time with turkey Parmesan mayo and artichokes. It was out of this world good, and we ate one in every major town in Alaska. ( All three of them!)  We had a collection of Anna Nalick, the Gorillaz, Shakira and Michael Buble to listen to after we stocked up on music, paninis and of course bug spray. This would be our sound trip for our vacation. Oh and that song “collide” We heard that on every radio station, all two they had in this part of the state, every time we turned on the radio.

     The weather was in the eighties and ideal when we parked at Denali National Park. There are no cars allowed in Denali so we boarded the bus with our camping gear and supplies for three days. We were staying at the Sanctuary Campground and we would do day hikes from there. In order to actually backpack into the bush you have to take a safety class on what to do in case of a bear attack. We decided to skip the class and just camp in a designated campground. On the way into Sanctuary we had our first animal sighting, a caribou on the side of the road. I was alittle disappointed to not see more wild life while in Alaska, although I am perfectly fine with not seeing grizzlies up close.  The caribou looked like a big ugly reindeer. After our super annoying bus driver (well Ryan liked her anyways) let us get some pictures the bus dropped us at our campsite and we found a nice spot near a picnic table. The people next to us, who were absolutely COVERED from head to toe in mosquito bites, told us there had been a grizzly spotted in our campsite the night before. That’s not terrifying or anything . What freaked me out, was walking to the portapotty in the middle of the night (Which I had to do alot, I have a girl bladder) without my glasses on, half blind, in the rain (I’ll get to that) just feeling like a grizzly was watching me. I felt like I was starring in an Alaskan horror movie; Revenge of the Mosquito’s, I mean Grizzlies.

It was this windy!
Poly Chrome Overlook


     The people in the camp sight next door to ours were super nice. They even gave us more fuel when ours didn’t work. We ended the day with a few rounds of hearts. Some time during the night it started raining. When we woke up in the morning the sky was overcast and it was still drizzling. So we played a few more games of hearts… An hour later it was still drizzling with no sign of letting up.  We had a quick breakfast then jumped on the tour bus to head towards Wonder Lake. We decided its called that because you wonder why there are so many damn mosquito’s.  The road into the park is ninety miles long and gravel so it takes quite a while to get to Wonder Lake. We could see huge hay colored grizzlies out the window in the distance. I didn’t expect them to be so light in color. We also saw some moose and Dall Sheep. Wonder Lake was pretty when we got there but the mosquito’s were in thick wet swarms, really insistent. We ended up just riding the tour bus most of the day to stay warm. We ended up back at our camp sight, playing hearts for hours and hours on end. Everyone was addicted to hearts but me.



I thought this sign was a guy staring at us




     The next morning, yup it was still raining. I can’t believe in all the rain we got that our tent stayed dry! Wow. We decided to take a hike, even though it was raining.
     Thank god! A break from playing hearts! 
     We got off the bus at the Polychrome Overlook and hiked up into the pretty green hills. I’m so glad I bought a rain coat for this trip. The whole time we were hiking I kept seeing a man in yellow on a hill far away watching us, and I thought it was kind of weird but whatever. It wasn’t until after our hike was over and we were heading back to the bus station that I realized “that man” was actually  a yellow street sign.
       I’m half blind, I guess.
      All in all Denali was pretty amazing. We did not get attacked by grizzlies, the weather was very wet and damp but that is very Alaska like. It allowed us to have a true Alaska experience, bugs, hearts and all.

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