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.