Friday, August 1, 2014

Adventures in Alaska: Day Six: Denali National Park

Most evenings this trip have ended with me passing out within a minute of my head hitting the pillow. Thursday night was no exception. We were booked for an early (7:30) Natural History Bus Tour through Denali National Park on Friday morning. The tour started with a stop at a visitor's center for a video on the development of the park and it's one road. There was a lot of great old footage , which showed just how wild Alaska was (and still is!)

Along the drive in, someone spotted the antlers of two caribou. And man were those antlers huge. Unfortunately my Nikon is out of commission so my iPhone could only do so much. The caribou were sitting, which blocked us from seeing much else of them, but we did stare at their antlers for a while. 

We journeyed up to road coming up to one of the old cabins which has been turned into an interpretative center. At this spot, there was a guide acting as the wife of a former park director/overseer/something.  She told the story of how "her husband" came to Alaska and began working in the park. 

After a brief walk on some trails, we climbed back onto the bus to head towards our next guided spot. 

After about 14 miles, the road is no longer paved and we met with our final guide. Here we met with a Native Alaskan who talked about the life of natives both past and present. Her family still very much relies on there own hunting and catching of animals to sustain them through the year. The skills and useful knowledge that is passed down among generations is envy-worthy. I lack most useful skills and fear that if I ever produce children, they will be even more useless than I am.

After such an exhausting bus ride, I felt it was necessary to take a nap before my afternoon excursion. 

When I first went to check in, the tour host to me that I was hiking alone with the guide. I was a bit skeptical, but thankfully a few other people did turn up. We headed just down the street to hike up sugarloaf mountain. 

The guide was insanely knowledgable. After so many tours that I've been on, I didn't think that I could learn anything else. My brain damn near exploded with new information.

The hike was great and I enjoyed the people that I had met. After I stopped at the pizza pub on the lodge property and enjoyed a few beers with the seasonal staff. I am fascinated by their stories of what has brought them to Alaska. While I would have enjoyed hanging out all night, I knew that a long bus ride hungover would be brutal so I called it a night to pack & prepare for our ride to the ship.

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