Photos From My One-Day Adventure

I finally had some time to post two photo galleries that show a sampling of images from my one-day adventure to visit…

…Denali National Park in Alaska.

I had a trip to Alaska for work, spending two days in Anchorage at meetings, and one day north and east of there at a facility where my boss is temporarily stationed. I worked there for a day.

At the end of that day, my boss and I took off for an adventure to Denali National Park.

No, we did not go by rented Harley. It was raining most of the time that I was in Alaska, and miserably damp and cool (not really cold, but certainly would be uncomfortable on a motorcycle and would require a lot of extra gear to keep warm.)

Plus, due to the very limited amount of time that Alaska weather permits road construction, almost all major roads that we drove on were under construction — including a five-mile stretch on a major highway where the road surface was dirt, holes, and mud. No way would I ride on something like that on a motorcycle, especially two-up with luggage. No way.

So we were in a rented cage. The boss doesn’t have his own vehicle, so whenever he needs one, he rents one. And car rentals in Alaska in the summer are twice as costly as in the lower 48.

We arrived at a hotel where we had made pre-paid reservations near the park about 2100 on Thursday, 9 August. After dropping off our bags, we hit the bar — in full daylight. Alaska days are really long — until they’re not. At that time in August, sunrise was at about 0500 and sunset was at about 2230. Amazingly, one half-hour of daylight was lost in just the week’s time I was there.

Boss had a beer; I had a lemonade. We talked for a while, then hit the sack for an early rise.

We set the alarm for 0500. I still had not completely adjusted to the four-hour time change, so I was awake by 0300, and quietly rest until the alarm went off.

We rose, dressed, and got to the park by 0610, in time to catch the first bus into the park.

Bus? Yeah, they don’t allow people to drive on the park road. It is some 90 miles to the end, and more than 80 miles of the road is dirt and gravel. As crowded as the park gets, they load people onto buses that leave about every half-hour to trek, slowly, into and through the park. The bus stops about once an hour where you can use a toilet if needed and stretch.

We saw some wildlife — bears picking berries, rabbits, Alaska ground squirrels, and caribou. But no moose! And not nearly as much wildlife as we thought we might see. (We did see a wolf chasing a baby caribou in the distance, but didn’t see the outcome of that chase.)

But no matter… the greatest thing was:

THE MOUNTAIN WAS OUT!

That is the phrase the locals use to describe conditions when the weather is clear and visitors can see the summit (peak) of Denali which is the tallest mountain in North America at 20,310 feet (6,190m). We truly were blessed with an unusually brilliantly sunny day. Park officials say that only about 30% of visitors ever see the mountain. It is usually obscured with clouds.

I took probably 200 photos of the mountain, and posted 33 of the best, here.

The boss told me about his own adventure — he climbed to the summit in the 90’s. He explained what it took to get ready and actually do that climb. I was enthralled with his description of that feat. I tell ‘ya, the boss is truly an amazing and highly skilled man.

Even though Denali dominated our attention, the park itself was quite picturesque and had a lot of stunning scenery. Colors changed, tundra was brilliantly green, and wildflowers were plentiful. Runoff to braided rivers from glaciers melting added to the scenery — images that Alaska is known for.

I also took about 200 photos of the park, and posted 27 of the best, here. We liked one of them (shown just above) so much that I had it enlarged to 24″ x 36″ and now have it framed as art and hung on a wall in our house.

Funny (in retrospect) story … we arrived at the end destination for this bus — Wonder Lake — and were told that the bus would depart in about one-half hour. We could stay longer if we wanted, but we would lose our reserved seat and would have to take our chances on getting a space-available seat on the next bus.

When we got there, the boss used his sillyphone to determine the location of a lake where we might be able to get an image like this (Alaska tourism photo shown right.) He tore off through a campground into the tundra … and there was no way I could keep up with him (I’m a biker, not a hiker). I stayed on the main path and called ahead, “I’ll wait here. If you find a good spot, call out.”

Then… nothing. Quiet. Only the buzz of mosquitoes. Tick-tock… the bus is going to leave soon. Tick-tock… no boss. He’s gone. Was he eaten by a bear?

Long story short, the boss returned in the nick of time. He never found that lake. GPS on his sillyphone was wrong. All he had to show for himself was a skin-full of huge welts from hundreds of mosquito bites. I gave him some lotion to ease the itching. We got back on the bus with a wild story of the boss being chased by monster wildlife (sign shown here proves!)

All-in-all, it was a wonderful day-trip adventure with a great friend.

We eventually returned to the small town where our hotel was, had a nice dinner, and a quiet evening. I slept peacefully that night.

The boss took me back to Anchorage the next day where I caught my flight back home.

Life is short: make your adventures, even if you only have one day to do it!