Alaska: Talkeetna and Denali

9 Jul

Hi friends! I’m back. Alaska was wonderful and so much fun but it’s good to be home. Now that we’re all unpacked with clean laundry and food in the fridge, I can tell you about our Alaskan adventures.

You’ve already heard about how the marathon went. 

After the race, we went and picked up our RV.

{at our first campsite}

We weren’t able to get a late checkout from our hotel so Travis and I ended up showering at the RV place. A little strange but it worked. After lunch at The Village Inn, we went grocery shopping (we cooked all of our own meals, except 3-4 that we had to eat out) and then headed north on our way to Denali.

We made it as far as Talkeetna and then settled in for the night at the campsite above. It wasn’t the most appealing campsite ever but we didn’t really mind as we were all exhausted from traveling and a long day in the RV (and me, running a marathon!).

Right away that first night, we realized how weird it was to have so much daylight. It’d be 11 at night and you’d think it was 5 because of all the daylight. Even when we went to bed at 10:30, it was bright outside, and whatever time we got up, it was light outside (it gets dark around 11:30 and light around 4 that far north). We ended up making a sunlight blind from a beer box for the upper bunk of the RV.

The next morning, we walked over to check out the small town of Talkeetna.

The water is so dirty because it’s glacial runoff and is full of silt. (I actually bought some soap in Juneau made with glacial silt and it’s amazing! It makes your hands feel so soft.)

After touring the town and doing a little shopping, we walked back to our RV and got on the road. We stopped frequently to take pictures and see the sights on our way up to Denali because 1) we had nowhere to be and 2) the mountains were gorgeous.

We stopped at the Veteran’s Memorial.

Saw Hurricane Gulch, which is pretty impressive.

After a very bumpy RV ride, we finally made it to Denali National Park.

We went to the Visitor’s Center, then ate dinner and fixed the air mattress that Travis and I were sleeping on (it had gone flat the night before!). After that, we took advantage of our copious amounts of daylight at 9:30 pm to go on a walk down to Riley Creek.

{Check out the giant blister on the inside of my right big toe!}

The next morning, we got up early for the 7 am Eielson Tour into the park.

 

{From left to right, Travis, Drew (our nephew), Matthew (T”s bro), Al (T’s dad), Beth (T’s mom), and me}

The first animals we saw were some caribou (reindeer) down by the water. They were pretty far away so you needed binoculars and a mega-scope on your camera to see them well.

And then 3 different times, we saw a momma brown/grizzly bear and her 2 cubs (at least 2 different sets, if not all 3). They were SO cute! The little cubs were bumbling along and playing with each other. It was very cool. They only have about 600 bears in the entire 6 million acre park, so seeing that many was really special.

We stopped a couple of times along the way (it takes 4 hours to get up to the Eielson Visitor Center – it’s 66 miles into the park). You’re allowed to hike around and get on another bus if you want but there aren’t any trails (you’d have to just bush whack) and it seemed fairly involved to get on a different bus. So we just stayed on our own the whole way. Our driver was really funny and knowledgeable too so it was an enjoyable drive.

Finally, we got up to the visitor center. It had been a sunny, warm day when we started out on the trip into the park but the closer we got to the mountain, the cloudier and colder it got. Apparently, Denali is big enough that it creates it own weather and when the sun melts the snow, it creates a lot of clouds and hides the mountain. All we could see up at the visitor center was fog (which is normally where you get the best view of the mountain).

On the way back, we were all tired and struggled to stay awake. We saw some more bears, eagles, a marmot, some more caribou and then we were back to where we started.

We had already “checked out” of our campsite so when we got back to the RV, we hit the road back toward Anchorage. For the night, we stayed at the Big Bear RV Park in Palmer (near Wasilla).

We finally had a campfire! Every other place we had been were selling little bundles of firewood for $10. This place had a bargain of $6 a bundle. Having a fire was a little weird though because it was completely light outside.

And that was the end of Day 4!

Coming up: Seward (whales!), Juneau and the ferry

One Response to “Alaska: Talkeetna and Denali”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Alaska: Seward (Day 1) « - July 20, 2012

    […] If you missed my first two posts on Alaska, here are the links to the marathon recap and our adventures in Talkeetna/Denali. […]

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