Archive for the ‘Denali’ Category

Rolly Lake & Arrival in Talkeetna 7/31 – 8/2/2009

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

We left Wasilla after staying overnight. We went to camp 2 nights at North Rolly Lake campground in Nancy Lakes State Recreation Area located on Parks highway about 30 miles north of Wasilla and 30 miles south of Talkeetna.

We had a lovely campsite in the woods and right on the lake. The campground was 6 miles in from the parks highway on a recently paved road. All our maps and documentation has the road as gravel.

We paddled the circumference of the lake. It was a non-glacial lake and was clear. It was 1st non-silty lake we had paddled in quite a while. After our morning paddle, we hiked 3 miles from our campsite to Red Shirt Lake. Fred took a nap in the grass there before we headed back to start a campfire.

The weather was partly cloudy and it cleared in the afternoon. It was great to see the sun for a change.


Talkeetna and our initial views of Mt Mckinley

On Sunday 8/2, we headed for Talkeetna hoping we would see Mt McKinley. On any day, there is only a 40% chance of being able to clearly see it. Since the early morning had clear skies, we were hopeful.

When we reached North Willow at milepost 90, we got our first view of the majestic Mt McKinley! It was crystal clear and beautiful!

When we registered at the Talkeetna Campers RV Park, we discovered that the owner had known Fr. Ron Dunfey. He had downed beer with him on many an occassion but didn’t know him very well.

We checked at the ranger station to meet a friend of Fr Ron’s, Roger Robinson, a park ranger who helps climbers plan their accents of Mt. McKinley. Unfortunately, the summer climbing season had ended and Roger was on vacation.

From our fullservice campsite, we took a walk along the Talkeetna River where we found outstanding views of Mt. McKinley. We also walked across an Alaskan Railroad bridge over the river. We viewed some Tour Jetboats going and returning from their trips and witnessed one getting stuck on a sand bar.

The village of Talkeetna is a tourist location with many shops, restaurants and Adventure Trip vendors in a place that was once reserved for climbers. Fr. Ron Dunfey, the Glacier Priest, spent many years here.

Last night, we had beers and listened to Jazz at the Fairview Lodge. This was an old locals hangout pub where we are certain Fr Ron must have spent some time. Then we moved up the street where there was lively bluegrass music. We had more beer and wine with Pizza as we listened to the local musicians. We had a good time!

Tonight at 7 PM, we are booked on a flighseeing trip to fly around Mt. McKinley. We will also land on a glacier there. We are hopeful that we will see the same sights that Charles Kuralt saw when he visited Fr. Ron on a glacier on Mt. McKinley for the national evening news.

The sky is now very blue without a cloud in the sky. We haven’t seen Mt. McKinley this morning as yet. It can have its own weather system. You never know what you are going to see.

Mt. McKinley Views from our Kayak Paddle 8/3/2009

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

When we asked about places to kayak at Talkeetna Ranger station, we were directed to a park south of Talkeetna where there were three lakes. We were told we may be able to get a view of Mt. McKinley.

We found a place where we could carry our kayaks down to Y Lake. The 3 lakes where labeled X, Y and Z – only in Alaska! We paddled around the whole of Y Lake before finding a march channel that brought us to a point where we could see McKinley off in the distance. 

We also found a place to portage to X Lake. At the other end of X Lake, we got wonderful and exciting views of the Mt McKinley mountains!

Talkeetna Campsite and Scenic Overview

Our campsite was right off the Talkeetna Spur  Road. We had a good spot about 100 yards from the Alaskan Railroad tracks. It was interesting to watch the tourist trains arrive. Thank God the trains didn’t seem to run much at night. There were some coal trains.

After our kayak trip, we passed the Telkeetna Scenic Overlook. The views of the mountains were clearer than the day before!

Flight to Mt. McKinley and Glacier Landing 08/03/2009

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

We took off at 7 PM for our flight to Mt. McKinley area and a landing at Eldridge Glacier.

We took many pictures.  We warn you that this slide show is  very long. It has been cut from 200 pictures to 99.

Today, we are headed for Byers Lake in Denali State Park for a couple of nights. After that we will stay a night at entrance to Denali National Park before traveling into the park 30 miles to camp at TEK campground. We plan on taking shuttle bus to end of road and also taking some hikes.

After Denali, we will go to Fairbanks and Ruby.

Byers Lake, Denali SP to Denali National Park 8/4 – 8/6, 2009

Friday, August 7th, 2009

We left Talkeetna around noon after updating our blog. We travelled up the Parks Highway. Views of Mt. McKinley mountains appeared frequently as the road snaked its way north. When we reached the South Denali Viewpoint, we noticed that clouds were beginning to form around the mountains.

We arrived at Byers Lake at Milepost 146 on Parks highway to find a great state park. The campsites were located quite a distance from the highway down in a valley. Each campsite was nestled in the woods with good separation from each neighboring campsite. It was quiet and relaxing.

Our first night there, we built a campfire and went for a short walk to see the path around the lake. We did see bear poop on the trail which supported the warning posted that a bear had been seen in the campground the previous day.

We woke up the next morning with a fairly heavy rain falling. It lasted all day.

We did take a hike in the rain about half way around the lake. At the end of the lake, the trail left the lake, went up a hill and down to a walking suspension bridge over a large creek. While standing on the bridge, we heard a loud splash in the water upstream. Fred’s first reaction was its a bear. We could see nothing there. Then, we saw heard another splash and saw it was a fish jumping upstream. We waited for more action to no avail.

As we were leaving the bridge and starting to climp up, we looked back at the stream. We could see about a half dozen red salmon swimming in pairs. The more with watched, the more we realized that we were watching salmon spawning. Anytime another salmon came near a pair, it was chased off. We watched these rituals playing before us for about 10 minutes before we headed back to our campsite to dry off.

Back in our camper, we started the generator and watched a suspense movie before Milly prepared a great spagetti supper.

On morning of 8/6, we left Byers Lake in the rain and arrived at 11:30 am outside Denali National Park at Rainbow RV Park. There was still a slight rain falling on and off.   We took in exhibits  at Visitor Center, viewed 2 good two Denali movies, picked up our TEK campsite and bus tickets, watched a sled dog demo, got some Denali Hiking advice, bought book “Denali Walks” and prepared for our Denali Wilderness Adventure.

Tomorrow we will go to TEK campground 30 miles into park for 3 nights. The weather forecast is for showers for several days. Hope that changes. We will do short hikes at various points along the Park Road. We will be out of cell phone and WIFI range for at least 3 -4 days.

We did not take our camera on our Byers Lake Hike or on to Denali Visitor Center. Two mistakes!

Denali: Trip into Teklanika Campground 08/07/2009

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

On the morning of 08/07/2009, we drove the 30 miles into Denali National park to the Teklanika Campground, where we would stay for three nights. Once we reached the campground, we could not use our car except to return to  the park entrance.  We has a TEK shuttle bus pass that gave us a reserved seat on a 1st morning tour bus to end of park – Kantishna, some 90 miles into park. The pass also allowed us to ride a shuttle bus anywhere in the park for those 3 days. We could get on and off as often as we wanted.

When we got up, the weather was cloudy with low lying fog. It began to clear as we got going.

We stopped for short hikes to Horseshoe Lake and another to an old cabin.

When we got to the TEK campground, we found the campsites fairly private with excellent views of the surrounding mountains. After we set up, we went for a walk along the Teklanika Riverbed behind the campground.

Denali: Wildlife Bus Trip to End of Park 08/08/2009

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Our park tour bus picked us up a the TEK Campground at 8:55 AM for our trip to to the end of the park road into Denali National Park.  The park road is 90 miles long but TEK campground is aleady at mile 29. The trip was a total of 120 miles. We returned about 7 PM. We stopped for rest breaks and at points of interest about once an hour.

Anytime someone spotted wildlife, they yelled out for the bus driver to stop. Many times the bus driver  spotted the wildlife first. We stopped often! Half way to the end of the park, the bus driver told us we had seen more grizzlies than any trip he could remember.

The weather was partly cloudy. We had expected showers which never happened.

We saw Dahl sheep, Moose, Wolf, Fox, Caribou, Arctic ground squirrels and of course Grizzlies. We saw just about all of most people have on their wish lists.

We saw quite a lot of wildlife in an area called Sable Pass.

We intended to meet Emmitt Peters, a guide at the Kantishna Road House.  Emmitt is the son of Edna Peters, who was married by Fred’s Uncle in Ruby – a small isolated village on the Yukon River. Emmitt was aslo baptised by Fr. Ron Dunfey. We thought that the bus would stop near the Kantishna Road House. It didn’t. If we knew more about the bus and how it operated as we do now, we may have met Emmitt.