Denali, the tall one

Ride the Americas

Chapter 3

Perhaps the best known attraction in Alaska is this 6 million acre National Park, featuring the 6190m Mt Denali, North America’s highest peak. Most park visitors don’t get to actually see the mountain as it spends a lot of time hiding behind surrounding peaks …

... and under a blanket of cloud.
… and under a blanket of cloud.

Planning a four day stay in the park, we were hopeful that at some point we’d catch at least a glimpse of Mt. Denali, ‘the tall one’.
Alas, it was not to be, with our stay coinciding with some interesting weather. Indeed, we spent one day largely huddled up in our tent at Igloo Creek, watching the rain/sleet …

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and emerging only to cook & eat.

It did give us a renewed appreciation for the ubiquitous Alaskan spruce trees as these actually have have pretty dense foliage that provides a nice leafy umbrella.

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The next day our resolve was crumbling fast in the face of yet more rain. But given that we’d come to the park hoping to see some of the famed wildlife, and that we were unlikely to encounter anything if we stayed in the tent, it was time to grit the teeth, layer up and head out.
Gloom was soon replaced by hilarity as the rain eased, views expanded …

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… and we became increasingly caked in mud. Before long we found ourselves the focus of considerable attention from passing Park buses, with some occupants gazing at us in horror, others amused at our obvious glee in the general silliness of it all.

Once past the bus turn around point we had the road to ourselves.

The quiet enormity of the place was intense.
The quiet enormity of the place was intense.

Rolling up and over multiple passes we reached Eielson for a late lunch, having seen our first grizzly bear up on a roadside ridge.

As the day drew out we encountered caribou, trotting along the road with their noses in the air,

Dall sheep grazing nonchalantly on a rocky outcrop
Dall sheep grazing nonchalantly on a rocky outcrop

and mountain goats. Arctic ground squirrels kept us entertained with their goofy ‘jack in the box’ antics.

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It was nearly 7pm when we rolled back into our camp (where it was still raining), but wow, what a day!

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We are now in Fairbanks, planning our trip along the Dalton Highway, aiming to reach the northernmost point of the trip at Prudhoe Bay, and the moment when we turn and begin the journey south ….

Ed & Gaye

3 comments on “Denali, the tall one

    1. Hi Cat, saw another grizzly along the Dalton Highway … very exciting!! Lots of ‘bear vrs cyclist’ stories, seriously hope that we don’t get that close ….

  1. Keep warm Gaye and Ed. Hope the sun shines soon for you.
    Thanks for the delightful Birthday card, it is so appropriate and cute, sitting on the mantle shelf with pride.
    Love Mel and Bet xxx

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