Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A trip to Denali

I had a recent visit from a friend, and for the occasion we went up to Denali National park. Denali is an Athabascan word, meaning "big mountain," more or less. Your atlas refers to Denali as "Mt. McKinley" after a deceased U.S. president. But we do not use that term in Alaska, because we like Denali better. On a good day Denali, about 6000 m high, can be seen from Willow and indeed from Anchorage. On the event of the trip, we were clouded in (grrr) and did not see the mountain at all. Poets call this "veiled in cloud." I say fie on poets. I want to see the mountain.

When you get to the National Park, you proceed to the WACC. This is the Wilderness Access Center. You buy a ticket and you get on the shuttle bus. This is for all intents and purposes a school bus, painted green. It takes you where no private vehicle is allowed to go. The scenery is quite spectacular.
With any luck, you will see wildlife. In our case, we were lucky enough to see a bear. This guy was a real ham. He posed for us and thousands of dollars of expensive cameras clicked away. This is one of the times I wished I had something like a 600mm lens (in 35-mm format old film tech).. Old Ursus was most impressive.
A blond(e) bear, no less. This is a grizzly. Well, we went along. We were climbing the sidewalls of a canyon or valley and the scenery became even more spectacular.

There were times when the bus seemed to overhang the road. The drivers are very skilful, however, and we did not fall off any cliffs or I wouldn't be posting this. After a while you get tired of the ride. The complete trip is perhaps six hours one way, 12 hours total. After about 4 hours we got off, and waited for a bus in the opposite direction. Eventually we got one and rode back to civilization, encountering moose in the process. There are plenty of moose photos in this blog; I will not bore you with them. But Denali NP is really (as the younger generation says) awesome; I urge anyone and everyone to take the trip.

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