Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Alaska: Denali National Park (July 14)

When we checked in to our hotel, we received our tickets for the “Tundra Wilderness Tour” we had signed up for… the tickets indicated a 5:40am departure. Yeesh!

Knowing it would get cold long before dark, we changed and decided to
go for a run into Denali National Park before dinner. We started by running through “town” for the first .5mi or so, then turned and made our way into the park. After briefly looking at a park map, we settled on running the Horseshoe Lake path. At the top of the trail, we noticed a sign that indicated the trail would drop 200 feet over the next 60 meters. I’m not sure why they felt the need to mix measurement systems, but we kept on. As the trail started to descend, a tree root excised its revenge on humanity by reaching out and tripping Tracy. After bodysurfing about 10’, I helped her up and we surveyed the damage: she had the wind knocked out of her and a few bumps and scrapes but she was overall OK. We agreed to continue the rest of the way down to Horseshoe lake, where we hiked around a bit, encountering a few beaver in addition to a Cow Moose and her Calf. As we were sweaty and quickly getting cold, we made our way back to the hotel. Exhausted, we walked into town and surveyed our options, settling for Subway sandwiches as the only quick and easy option available.

We ate breakfast at the hotel and jumped onto our Tour shuttle around 5:30am. Our 8 hour tour would take us ~50 miles up the park road, a route only accessible by special permit (an effort to minimize the human impact on the park). Despite being a rainy, overcast day, we passed some gorgeous scenery that wasn’t slighted by the weather. We encountered Moose, Fox, Bear, Caribou, and Sheep along the trip. hey, bear.

There was also a rumored sighting of a TracyCaribou and an ErikMoose, but all we have are these blurry pictures... no hard evidence. :)

Upon returning from the cold, wet bus ride we warmed up in the hotel room and took a 3 hour nap. For dinner, it was off to the “World Famous” Salmon Bake.

After the Bake, we decided to see what the town had to offer. We perused the local shops and also explored the Denali Princess resort, which offered many amenities that our hotel certainly didn’t – it’s a very nice resort and seems specifically designed to keep many of it’s Cruise Passenger guests AT the resort instead of out at the local businesses. We found a bar and decided to do our own bar crawl of the town. After hitting both (ha!) bars, we bought a screw-top bottle of Pinot Grigio, wrapped it in a paper bag, and drank it as we walked back to our hotel… where we promptly passed the f out.

See all the pictures from the trip:

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