Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Denali!

Denali!

A while back, our friends and treasures K.C. and Scott got the word that they'd won the Denali road lottery, which meant they could drive their personal vehicle into Denali Park for one day, after the regular shuttle-bus season ended. And they thought we might like to join them.

This sort of thing takes some (but not all) of the sting out of them pulling up stakes thirty years ago and leaving us behind. Their stint as our neighbors was doomed to end eventually anyway, unless they could figure out a way to shovel half an arkful of critters into a 40x50 foot lot in Portland. And even then they'd have had to buy up the rest of the houses on their side of the street to accomplish the trout pond and the sturgeon pond and the emu pen and the wine grapes. Scott had a bulldozer (yes, in his back yard) and no doubt was already scheming such a thing, but instead they left for the country, sheltered the hell out of an astonishing array of animals--most of them not destined for the plate--while holding down full-time jobs, and then sold the whole shootin' match and moved to Alaska with a mere dog and a mere cat.

This is what you do when you are thus inclined and the opportunity arises: you leave your menagerie behind and go to a state where the menagerie takes care of itself, and you try to get a respectful peek at it as often as you respectfully can.

Denali! Well sure we would come. Alaska is practically right next door. To Canada, anyway. We hopped into a plane and met them in Fairbanks, where they'd just come in from a polar bear excursion, as one does, and off we went.

Denali was once Mt. McKinley and is now Denali again, although Trump has threatened to re-McKinley it, because Obama, so stay tuned. The big mountain, which had been around a long time before anybody called it anything, had been Denali until a gold prospector in 1896 decided to piss off some silver prospectors by calling it McKinley after the president who championed the gold standard. By 1917 the federal government officially renamed the mountain McKinley, as a consolation prize for his having been assassinated. McKinley was, irrelevantly, from Ohio, and so in recent years the Ohio delegation blocked attempts to snatch back the Denali name, but a few years ago Obama made it happen anyway, because he is an elitist who hates Ohioans.

All of which makes Denali even sexier than it had been.

I did not have an image in my head of the trip into Denali. I rather thought it might wind around and around and terminate fairly high up the mountain, which is what we do with mountain roads in these parts, and because the thing is over 20,000 feet high, I worried a little that we'd be parked on the road all woozy and unable to get out of the way of rampaging caribou, should the need arise. But then again it would have been worth it to see the caribou, which would be a Life Mammal for me. There was the possibility of spotting much wildlife, including several that would also be new to me, such as the wolf and the Dall sheep.

We got an early start and motored to the park entrance in the dark, and right away a few Life Ptarmigans were spotted, apparently, but I don't like to count skitterings on the shoulder that I have to take someone else's word for. Still, it was auspicious, and we pulled up to the entrance and waited for the go-ahead from the rangers, and then the road purled out ahead of us for miles, all prospect and promise, like the beginning of a long, good friendship.

32 comments:

  1. A handful of people all alone in a giant park. Wow. That's almost like being in the garden of Eden before the rest of us got born. It's like walking to work in the pre-dawn and feeling you're the only person on earth because everyone else is still asleep. Did you see plenty of wildlife?

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  2. You lucky person. I have been up this road. I would love to have been able to drive it in my own vehicle. As it happened we walked quite a way on this road. Weren't the views magnificent!

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    1. And a very clear day, just a few lenticular clouds over Denali. Man.

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    2. Loving the clouds at the peak in the last photo of the mountain. Lenticularis is one of my fave clouds.

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    3. Mine too! They were there (changing, of course) all day.

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  3. What a wonderful experience! And how generous of your former neighbors to count you as the BFFs with whom to share it.

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  4. Oh, how wonderful! Have a grand time.

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  5. Driving the Glenn Highway from our home in Eagle River to Anchorage on a very clear day, Denali filled my rear view mirror like a giant diamond. That’s incredible, seeing how far south of the mountain we were. Whatever superlatives you seek, Alaska never disappoints.

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    1. I'm gathering that the clear day is pretty unusual.

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  6. You lucky dogs!! I saw Alaska from a cruise ship & it wasn't the same; still glorious, but not the same!!

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  7. Colour me jealous. Definitely looking forward to more.

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  8. I have been to Denali - which they were already calling it in 2001 as near as I can remember - and it was a gloriously clear day. We were on the regular bus thing - and the guy kept telling us how lucky we were to get such a clear view. Looks like you had the same luck! Alaska is amazing.

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    1. I think residents never quit calling it Denali.

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  9. Flying Air Alaska to Canada doesn't quite cut it.So I'll pull up a chair beside EC...

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  10. What a wonderful trip. I'm so glad you two got to make it. We took the bus in back in 1984, and it was a sight to behold.

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    1. I do think the bus is a good idea but I'm pretty thrilled to have been in the fossil-fuel-spewing few!

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  11. I lived in Anchorage for 10 years, starting in '74. Few locals called it McKinley, it was always either Denali or "The Mountain". Clear days it's easily seen for several locations, such as the top of the Cook Hotel. There was access for vehicles then, don't remember about buses.
    I was also lucky to spend several days on Ruth Glacier, the staging point for climbers going up. We were doing pulmonary altitude testing, comparing it to lower altitudes on the same people. It was a great time of my life.

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    1. Murr, now I'm hearing the Beach Boys, "I get around"....thanks a bunch.

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    2. Oh,also I have some stories about Talkeetna, Ray Genet, and the 70's that I'll never tell.

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  12. And here I thought this was going to be about misspelling the word "denial"!

    As Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say, "That's VERY different." I think that's who used to say it, anyway.

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  13. Wow so you and Dave got to see this!

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  14. Your pictures are GORGEOUS! Thanks for taking my breath away.

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