The Tall One in the Clouds

7/28/15 – 8/1/15 (7,095 miles)

Map Soldotna to Denali

Tuesday we spent most of the day in the car, driving from Soldotna to Talkeetna. Like Homer, Talkeetna is a weird small town, inhabited by artists and adventurers. Most of the attempts to climb Mt. McKinley depart from here, and the Ranger Station that approves the climbs is here. In clear weather, there are beautiful views of Mt. McKinley from near Talkeetna, but we were not blessed with clear weather.

We spent some time roaming around Talkeetna, had a beer (of course) and did a bit of shopping.

Fashionable Glacier Attire
Fashionable Glacier Attire

On Wednesday, Valya and Volodya took a flightseeing tour over Mt. McKinley, with a landing on the Kahiltna Glacier. As they donned their glacier climbing boots, Stephen explained that take-offs are optional, but landings are mandatory. They were not dissuaded from the trip. Although the air wasn’t completely clear, they were able to get a view of The Tall One from the air. Their pilot was fun and competent, and they arrived back safe and happy.

Flightseeing Plane

Mt. McKinley Summit
Mt. McKinley Summit

A Mountain Lake from the Plane

Glacier Ice
Glacier Ice
On the Glacier
On the Glacier

Intrepid Flyers with Pilot

From Talkeetna we moved on to Denali. All along the highway, vistas of Mt. McKinley were advertised. All we saw were clouds. In the evening, Valya made shashlik. We always gave Volodya credit for sashlik, but today we discovered who is really responsible!

Suchlike Cooking with New Device
Shashlik Cooking with New Device
Sashlik Cooked
Finished Shashlik

DSC_2398The RV park where we stayed offered a dog-walking service, so we abandoned Gus in the trailer and drove into the park to get on the bus that departed at 7:30 a.m. for Kantishna, 92.5 miles down a gravel road to the end of the national park development. We still had hopes of seeing Mt. McKinley, and we also had hopes of seeing some of Alaska’s wildlife. David, the bus driver, told us that he had not seen the mountain for three weeks, and he had not seen any bears in the same period. We began to be sorry for our choice of activities for the day, but, having paid for the tickets, we set out.

Caribou Ladies
Caribou Ladies
Moose
Mama Moose

Very quickly we changed our minds and were happy we had made the choice.

Brown Bear
Brown Bear

David, a retired park ranger, made the trip fun, and we saw a number of animals, many near the road. It was an enjoyable way to spend 14 hours and some dollars.

Willow Ptarmigan, Alaska's State Bird
Willow Ptarmigan, Alaska’s State Bird
Arctic Squirrel
Arctic Squirrel

The next morning we had a bit of a lie-in, followed by breakfast of pancakes and sausages. We showed Vladimir Ben’s favorite way to eat these foods: Pigs-in-a-blanket. Vladimir thought this was a good solution that reduced dirty dishes.

After breakfast we drove back into the park. Stephen, Valya and Volodya took a hike, while Donna and Gus cooled their jets in the truck. They walked along Horseshoe Lake Trail, where the Ranger assured them they would see beavers. They saw a beaver dam, but they saw no damned beavers.

Beaver Dam
Beaver Dam

Only 30% of visitors get to see the top of Mt. McKinley.  The Dolgikhs saw it from the air, so they are part of the 30% club.  None of us saw it from the ground,


One thought on “The Tall One in the Clouds

  1. I’m surprised the Alaskans didn’t tell you that they don’t call it Mt. McKinley, but Denali, it’s name before Pres. McKinley decided to name it for himself. I’m sorry you didn’t get to see the summit — I was fortunate enough to get to do so on one of the days I was in the area, but only once.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s