A Travellerspoint blog

Denali to Anchorage

Day 9 - the last day of Alaskan Highlights Tour

sunny

Today we finished up the tour driving from Denali back to Anchorage, stopping at Talkeetna along the way for lunch and a small walk. This is where the hikers start the climb up Mt McKinley. It is cute little tourist town with many of the trains stopping over for a look here. We also drove through Wasilla, the hometown of Sarah Palin..

Once in Anchorage we said our goodbyes :( It was a wonderful trip with awesome people, that I had a lot of fun with. Alaska was amazing, and I have so many memories that will last a lifetime!

Now I'm waiting in the airport for my flight down to Vancouver where I will start my 15 day Canadian Rockies camping tour! Hopefully I don't have to blog in one go like I did this one!

Hopefully you guys don't get to bored, there is a lot of reading on here now :)

xo

Posted by georgiaodgers 23:50 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Maclaren River to Denali

Day 6, 7 & 8

semi-overcast

We continued from the lodge on the Denali Highway towards Denali. Once again more beautiful scenery, and a herd of caribou.
Denali National Park is the place where all visitors to Alaska want to come, I didn't realise what a big deal it was before we go there and saw many excited tourists. First off we stopped at the visitor centre, and then went to a dog sledding demonstration. We got to pat a few of the dogs, and then they used 5 to show us a quick run around the ground. They then explained about the commands, the sled, the dogs life and how they are used in the park. It was amazing to see how excited the dogs got when they chose the ones for the demonstration. It was chaos, but you could see how much the dogs loved the work that they do. They don't work the dogs too much during the summer as it is to hot for them, but during the winter they are used for rubbish removal, transporting supplies and rangers, and occasionally rescue missions.
We then headed back to our Carlo Creek Cabins where we had a campfire and BBQ, including a delicious dessert of s'mores. This is an American campfire snack that is a cooked marshmallow and a piece of chocolate wedged between to sweet biscuits :)

The next day we took a bus into Denali National Park. They have tried to keep the park as a complete wilderness. This means there is one road for people to drive in on, and no hiking trails. The way it works is, is that you take a bus and when you would like to get off and hike you ask the bus to stop. When your done hiking you walk back to the road and get the next bus that comes along. The bus takes 4 hours each way. We road it all the way one way, got off at the visitor centre, and then road it back. Our plans to hike were destroyed by a mumma grizzly bear and her two cubs. And then after listening to the ranger's variety of stories about bear attacks in recent times we weren't to keen for any back country hiking on the bus ride out. We did however get to watch the bears from about almost 300 metres away, quite scary considering they can run this far in around 30 seconds. We also saw a few other bears on the bus ride, as well as dall sheep, caribou and golden eagles. The most disturbing part of the day was the bear that killed another bear and ate it :( apparently this is very very rare. The most amazing part of the day was seeing the beautiful Mt McKinley or 'Denali' (used by the natives, meaning 'the great one'). Due to Alaskan weather the mountain in normally covered by clouds and fog so many visitors to the park miss out. By some miracle we saw the mountain, not just for an hour, but we could view it throughout the whole day. I felt even luckier when the man driving our bus (who is there everyday), said it was only the third time he had seen it this Summer!! :) . Mt McKinley is the largest mountain in North America. When measured from base (ground level, not sea level) to the peak, the mountain is actually taller than Mt Everest.

The day after I continued my new adventurous streak with some white water rafting on the Nenana River. This was so much fun! Although before we started I was so scared I would fall out and hit a rock or something. After this we had some shopping free time, then we headed up to the Stampede Trail. For anyone who has seen the movie 'Into the Wild' directed by Sean Penn, this is where the movie was filmed, but also where the true story occurred. I haven't seen it, but its something I want to watch as soon as possible. If you haven't heard of it, it is a real life story about a man named Christopher who decides to leave materialism behind and immerse himself completely into the wild. I will leave it at that, and let you all watch the movie, without wrecking it for you. The original bus is still out where is was when Christopher lived in it, and the bus used in the movie sits at a restaurant not far from the Stampede Trail. Inside this they have copies of some of his letters back home and diary entries he wrote while in the wild. While out here we saw our first coyote.

xx

Posted by georgiaodgers 23:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Valdez to Maclaren River Lodge

Day 5

semi-overcast

We left Valdez early to travel to Maclaren River Lodge, this is basically the middle of nowhere. The lodge we stayed at was the only building for miles. It also had a restaurant, and for them to collect supplies they had to travel over 5 hours to Fairbanks. Somehow the food was better, and cheaper, than it was in town. We stayed up late talking to the people who work there and it was so interesting. One man stays in the lodge to look after it during the winter months, I can't even begin to imagine how eerie it would feel all alone out there with so much snow and ice.

On the drive to Maclaren we stopped for some small hikes as we went through Thompson Pass, and stopped to check out Worthington Glacier. We visited Wrangell St Elias National Park, going to the visitor centre, watching a short movie and taking photos at the lookouts. This park has 9 of the 16 tallest peaks in North America, and the park itself is bigger than the country of Switzerland.

We then hit the apparently famous Denali Highway! This road is the most unmaintained highway in the USA. It is mostly dirt and is closed from May to October. During these months the only way through is if a snowmobile or dog sled is used. Many people have died trying to pass through here in an Alaskan Winter. National Geographic Magazine have named this highway the second most fun highway to drive... in the world.

Once we got to the lodge we had a lovely canoe on the Maclaren River surrounded by the mountains and pretty Maclaren Glacier. After dinner, our tour guide Abby go convinced to do the 'Polar Plunge'. She had to strip down to underwear and go up to her shoulders in the Maclaren River... which temperature was below freezing. She wasn't in there for long!

xo

Posted by georgiaodgers 21:52 Archived in USA Tagged mountains alaska canoe maclaren Comments (1)

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