Emmitt’s Sled Dogs
After lunch at the Kantishna Lodge, at the end of the road into Denali National Park, we had a choice of two optional activities, panning for gold or watching a presentation on dog mushing. Frankly, neither particularly appealed but, loving dogs, we chose the latter. Fate favored us once again; Emmitt Peters, Jr.’s presentation on dog mushing was a highlight of the trip. Emmitt, a competitive dog musher himself, is the son of an Iditarod hall-of-famer, who smashed the previous record of 21 days by winning his first Iditarod race in 14 days, changing the way the race has been run ever since. Emmitt, the father, Started the Iditarod thirteen times and finished in the top 10 ten times.
Emmitt, the son, has been mushing since before he can remember. His knowledge of the subject is encyclopedic. Even better, his comedic lines, delivery and timing are as good as any stand-up comedian you have ever enjoyed. He is knowledgeable, engaging and hilarious! The subject proved most interesting.
The embedded video is crude, the audio distracting and the videographer apparently dozed off towards the end. Stick with it, though, to see the dogs straining to get going.
Mount McKinley Summit
Only thirty percent of the visitors to Denali National Park get to see the summit of Mount McKinley. Clouds obscure the peak most of the time. We were able to see it only because, on our flight back from Kantishna to Denali, the cloud layer did not reach the summit and our pilot was able to get us above the clouds. Had we not chosen to fly back out of the park, rather than riding the bus back, and been lucky enough to get a pilot who made a special effort to get us a view of McKinley’s peak, we would have been among the seventy percent who never see the summit.
Scenery on bus trip through Denali
We took a 90 mile bus trip from the park entrance to the small mining community of Kantishna, which lies within the park. The bus meandered along a very curvy..and sometimes nerve racking..road through the park. We crossed several passes with dramatic views, but the highlights of the journey for me were the animals. We saw a Moose, Dall sheep, Caribou, and a mama Grizzly with her two cubs.
Denali “Welcome” Sign
Arrived at one of the most wild and wonderful places I have ever been..Denali National Park and Preserve. The park is the size of the state of Massachusettes (over 6 million acres), and the rugged terrain is unmarred by man. Access around the park is highly restricted with only authorized vehicles being able to travel the roads and NO vehicles of any sort allowed off the road. The vastness and natural beauty is overwhelming, and wildlife runs the show. The “crown jewel” is Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in north America (20,237 feet). The area is very seasonal, but the “characters” who flock there for the summer add a unique/quirky edge to the area. Dad and I fit right in 🙂 See posts on bus trip, flight, and whitewater for pics of park.
Packing up this morning and heading to Denali National Park for 3 nights of camping. Not sure what Internet connection will be like there, so may be “off the grid” again for a few days. Next stop after that is Anchorage. Will be back in blogging action there.
Poker Creek, most northerly border port in USA
Having heard horror stories about possible delays at the ferry across the Yukon River and crossing the border, Addie and I decided those irritations could be solved just by being first in line. The plan worked perfectly, but when we reached the Yukon Territory-Alaska border, the road was closed for paving.
After waiting an hour-and-a-half, the woman apparently supervising the paving project, said we could proceed, but gave us very explicit instructions as to where to drive. We believed we followed her instructions exactly. Maybe she gave us too much credit, believing we would figure things out as we proceeded.
We drove forward, keeping hard to the left. The only building we saw had Canadian flags on it and was situated such that a vehicle coming from the opposite direction would be on its driver side. We assumed (yeah, I know!), that we would soon come to the U.S. Customs station. We did not! Well, what the Hell, we had crashed the border, but thought we had made a clean getaway. Wrong, again! As we were enjoying a laugh about being international criminals, here a Jeep comes up behind us with multiple flashing blue lights. We decided not to make a run for it in a 6000-pound, diesel pickup truck and immediately pulled over, hands visible on top of the steering wheel. I am convinced the officer enjoyed a sexual rush when, in his most authoritative command voice, he bellowed, “You have entered the United States of America illegally! Return to the checkpoint.”
By the time we got back to the check point, another couple, following the same instructions we had, had done the same thing and been stopped by the senior officer at the checkpoint. Much to the disappointment of the officer who had apprehended us, the senior office recognized it as innocent mistakes and sent us on our way.
Top of the World Highway
Traveled from Dawson City, Yukon Territory to Alaska via the Top of the World highway. I got to enjoy the spectacular scenery (and crazy drop offs) while Dad (driving) white knuckled it. Think his insistence on driving had something to do with my driving skills, but didn’t mind soaking up the view 🙂 We were sky high and there were no stretches that qualified as straight (or smooth- most of road was unpaved). We had the highway to ourselves, which was great considering the width of the road in places..and that fact that guard rails were non-existent!!