Friday, September 5, 2008

Denali National Park

We just spent four days inside Denali National Park camping at the Wonder Lake Campground which is 87 miles inside the park. It takes a long six hour bus ride to get there along a small gravel road, however the views are gorgeous and usually there is some wildlife along the way.

Mount McKinley (called Denali by the Alaskans), is normally only viewable 20% of the time. The mountain is so big (20,320 feet) that it can actually create its own weather system, and is typically obscured by clouds. Denali has the highest vertical face in the world, even larger than Everest, since the base of the mountain is at 3,000 feet. We were treated to clear views for three days and had beautiful autumn weather, although the temperatures in the tent at night were around 32F.

Click the slide show below to see the pictures in full size. If this does not work from your email try this link: Denali National Park

The bugs were pesky; however we got a tip from an Alaskan hunter that if you break off a bush branch and hold it above your head it helps keep the bugs away. We thought the guy was putting us on to make us look stupid, but we tried it and it actually does work. We did look stupid, but we were bug free!

It does not get dark until after 10pm, so John came up with a method to create his own darkness by pulling a hat down over his eyes and wearing an eye mask. We met some lovely people at the campground, mostly all of them photographers, so there were a lot of people getting up at dawn for photo opportunities.

Wild blueberries grow abundantly in this area, which is what the bears eat. We started picking them, and they are delicious. John asked Sara if they need to be washed first, the reply was they are completely fresh and organic. We will never enjoy store bought blueberries again.

We were so lucky with the weather we left the campground a day early. Since it was John’s birthday on the 4th and we had been wilderness camping for four days we decided to treat ourselves to a nice room in a lodge.

We have three days before we need to be back to Anchorage so we are going to drive the Denali and Glen Highways. The Denali highway is 135 miles of gravel, but should have great views. Supposedly rental cars are not allowed on it, but we have seen no evidence of this rule in our agreement, so we are going for it anyway.

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