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Day 33 – Denali National Park – Day 3

August 10, 2017

My original plan for Day 3 in Denali was to use the transit bus system to start a handful of 1-3 hour back country hikes at various points off Park Road. Part of the reason for cycling the road on Day 1 was to scout out promising spots along to road for hikes.

However, as I boarded my early morning bus into the park to Wonder Lake, the weather had turned sour overnight, and I was still wrecked from my overnight exertions on Day 1. Wandering around the backcountry didn’t seem nearly as appealing as it had a few days ago, so I stayed on the bus most of the day.

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I don’t know if they liked the rain, or if it was just that it was a different time of day, but there was a lot more wildlife out and about. Mostly, about a thousand caribou.

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At Eielson Visitor Center Again:

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Even mostly obscured by clouds, the Alaskan Range is pretty dramatic.

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2017-08-02_2341_DenaliMore caribou:

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The bus got to Wonder Lake around noon, and, not wanting the spend the entire day sitting on a bus, I stepped off. I still wanted to see the entirety of Park Road, so I decided to hike along the road the eight miles to Kantishna, after which I’d either take the 2:50 bus back to the park entrance, or, if I felt up to it / interested, I could hike around Kantishna for a few hours and catch the 6:00 bus out.

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On a clear day, this is one of the best views of Denali in the park. On a day like this, well, whatever.

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This is a ptarmigan, which are the “chickens” Chicken, Alaska was named after.

I finally reached Kantishna and the end of the road around 2:30:

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Now that I’ve been there, I can say that unless you are staying in one of the standoffish private lodges or have business at the airstrip, there’s not much reason to go to Kantishna, which explains why only a quarter of the buses go that far. Oh well, you don’t know until you go.

Not seeing anything enticing in the surrounding hills, I checked out the airstrip, which looked like something out of MASH…

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…and boarded the 2:50 bus back to the park entrance. At this point, I was beat and just wanted to lay back and relax, which was difficult. The transit buses are converted school buses. I don’t know if you’ve ever ridden on a converted school bus for six hours on a bouncy gravel road, but it’s about as restful as you’d imagine.

I got back to my car at around 9:00. My next stop was Anchorage, a four hour drive South. I decided to drive until I got bored or tired.

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Southbound on George Parks Highway

By midnight, I was both tired and bored, so I pulled off. Along the way, I ran across the depressing and intriguing relic called Igloo City

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…which brought a strong recollection of Santa’s Land in Arizona to mind. What is it with winter themed tourist attractions that makes them end in sadness and ruin?

Other than that, there wasn’t much to look at on the drive to Anchorage besides the rain on my windshield.

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I’m now in Anchorage, and am going to have to, again, spend a couple days recovering. I don’t remember having to do this the last time I went on a road trip like this. This must be one of the consequences of not being 22 any more.

Why am I still ageing? It seems like a bad idea. Getting older used to be great, now it kinda sucks. So I’m not going to do it any more. It’s a bad habit.

I have several more stops in Alaska and Canada in mind before I start heading back to LA in earnest, but I keep loosing days, so I don’t know how much I’ll actually be able to get to.

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One comment

  1. Your photos leave me in awe, and your writing never ceases to entertain. I’d love to loose the bad habit of aging, HA!



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