Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Denali - Riley Creek

Yesterday we drove the 230 miles from Eagle River to Denali.
Normally this would be a beautiful drive.
When planning the trip I even made the loop of Alaska in a clockwise
direction just to be able to drive the Parks Highway Northbound rather than South.

Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate.  It was a cloudy overcast day and
the Alaska Range - and Denali - was shrouded in secrecy.

Had it been clear - we would have had these impressive peaks in our front
windshield for much of the trip.

We arrived at the park, checked in and found nice campsites.
We then spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the tourist district outside of the park
and had dinner there as well.

We then retired to our respective RV's and Kate and I watched a couple of
episodes of Cheers and Frasier that we had on the DVR plus one episode
of The Tudors

The forecast for today was rain and the weather man was spot on.
The rain started in earnest last night and picked up in intensity.
By morning it was coming down steady and the temps were in the mid 40's.

I had planned a morning hike and picnic for the group and they were not about to
let some weather deter our plans so off we went.

A 15 mile drive to the end of the public access part of the park brought us to
the Savage River Loop Trail.

There has been record breaking rains here in Denali and evidence of road washouts were 
visible in a number of places.  The streams were swollen and muddy as they
coursed down the mountains and eroded the hillsides.

The Savage River Loop is a 3 mile loop that goes up one side of the Savage River,
across a foot bridge, then back down the other side.

We only saw one other person on the trail the whole time.

About 1 1/4 miles into our hike the wind and rain got the best of our group and we
decided to make a retreat back to the warmth of the car.

So we managed to get 2 1/2 miles of the 3 miles under our belt regardless.

We then headed back to the Visitor Center for some hot chocolates, Tea, and Coffees.

After lunch back at the RV's and a quick walk with the Doodles,
it was time for our afternoon entertainment...

The Denali Sled Dog Kennels.

Sled dogs have been, and continue to be, an important mode of winter transportaion
here in the far north.

Unlike mechanical modes that breakdown, the dogs do not.
Here in the park, the dogs are used exclusively in the winter time in the wilderness 
areas that prohibit mechanical mean of transport.

These are working dogs in every sense of the word.

There are warming huts about every 15 or 20 miles in the back country.
In the winter, the rangers will patrol from hut to hut.
At the end of a long cold day, a hut full of Alaskan Sled Dogs will be warmed
up by all of those warm bodies.

I know that Kate and I sometimes appreciate the extra heat our two
Sled Doodles generate on a cold night.

Some of the dogs were out of their dog cabins,
Giving - and receiving - lots of lovin.

Other were just chilling saying "nope not me..  too wet - gonna stay inside today"

The ranger did a sled dog demonstration.
Here is a short video clip

Here are the dogs enjoying a bone after their work.

And of course...  ever the showgirl.

Tomorrow we head deeper into the park to the Teklanika Campground.

The public is not allowed to drive vehicles beyond the 15 mile marker of the road.
After that it is shuttle bus only.
An exception is for those how are staying at Tek.
We are allowed to drive in and out only.
While there we cannot move our vehicles.

The outlook is for clearing weather so I'm cautiously optimistic that the mountain
will come out and we will get to see the grand sights that I promised everyone.

We'll be out of touch now for 3+ days as there is no cell service where we
are headed.

See you in a while.


  1. Ah, the memories! So sorry you are having rain. We had rain on our last day at Denali, it was pouring when we watched the sled dog demo. Hopefully the rains stop, the clouds disappear and Denali appears for you to see the splendor.

  2. Hoping for total sunshine on your Denali Parade!! Love the photos of the sad-looking white dog in his genuine log doghouse, Kate with the sled and the selfie with your friends. Keep on adventuring!


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