The last few days we were up in a nice log cabin along the Nenana River around Denali National Park which was a great experience. We had a very early morning for the full day, 13-hour tour into Denali and to Kantishna Roadhouse, but was amazing to see so much wildlife! It was kinda sad the bus driver seemed to keep missing the fact Denali was clearly in a view though (a very rare occurence, only 20% of visitors get to see it) and would stop the bus to show a ptarmigan flapping away that no-one got to see. The terrible road conditions and converted school bus without the aid of suspension really didn’t help, and the park ranger greeting us and welcoming us to the “last great wilderness” seemed ridiculous when the first time we stopped inside the park was more like a bus terminal with over a half a dozen buses already parked up herding visitors around and serving lukewarm tea + coffee along with cookies and fruit out the back door…
But, there were some fantastic views of the Alaska Range:
And also views of some of the mountains around Denali lit up in the morning sunshine (which turned to rain by mid-afternoon on our return trip which wasn’t too bad):
The driver finally stopped the bus so we could get a shot of Denali which was pretty cool. Not quite as a clear or distinctive as the flightseeing tour Kat + I took a couple of years ago, but still nice to see although the swirling cloud make it difficult to distinguish in this scaled down photo:
Just as we were taking photos of Denali, we noticed a bear down at the bottom of the valley, so headed down to see how close we could get. It was the second or third grizzly bear we’d seen, and this one really gave us a show! We got a ton of photos as it came to within 40 feet or so, and then wandered along the road in front of us as if leading the way! The driver had to radio in to check what she should do! It finally got off the road where we saw it stand on it’s hind legs before pouncing and chasing after a ground squirrel. Very cool!
We went on to see another couple of bears, though none quite that close, along with a caribou with a fantastic set of antlers before we passed Wonder Lake and headed to the Kantishna Roadhouse, by which time the weather had closed in and the views were over, but we’d got the best of it anyways. After a quick lunch, we then went out panning for gold in the creek where we all ended up with a small sliver of gold (no-one even suggested they might have been planted there…), but a fun experience:
After a long haul back along the park road, we came across a couple of moose very close to us, and again one of them crossed right across the road in front of us and gave us some fantastic close-up views. The mist just added to the atmosphere:
The day after we had a bit of a rest day without too much planned, so Kat + I headed on a little hike up Triple Lakes Trail where we got some fantastic views of the little lakes up in the hills:
This morning we got an early start and started heading back down towards Anchorage, calling in at Talkeetna along the way which was a cool little town where all the downtown area was still small log cabins and no brick-built structures in sight which was really pretty:
Kat’s choice of activities was to check out the Sun Dog Iditarod kennels, home of musher Jerry Sousa who took us on a tour around the kennels, gave a talk and introduced us to the puppies, and also took us on a sleddog ride around the woods with the dogs pulling us on a trailer kinda thing.
It was pretty fun, and was cool to get pulled around by sled dogs, who really had a ton of power! It also broke up to the drive to Anchorage, though we were still in town by 2p.m. Gave us plenty of time to get all the food we wanted to pack the cooler and a rubbermade box, and also mailed off some more food and bites + pieces. Kat + I are heading out in the morning to get Mia and then flying out to Bethel around 12 noon, with a chartered Cessna 207 to take us back to Tunt around 3p.m. Hopefully everything will go okay! Mam + dad don’t leave until a little later, flying down to Vancouver for a couple of nights around 2.30p.m
Overall, it’s been an amazing trip with so many highlights. No-one can really decide on a ‘best moment’, just a list of their favourites! Sure once we all get home and just let it all soak in and go back over photos it will start to hit home just how much we’ve done.