Denali National Park to Anchorage
June 6, 2017
Miles Driven: 261
Sunrise (Denali): 3:20am / Sunset (Anchorage): 11:30pm
Latitude: 63.11N to 61.22N
National Parks Visited: 1 (same one as yesterday)
Wacky Roadside Attractions: 1
We whirled around the track at lightning speed, our 8-dog team pulling the driver and the two of us through the woods on the cart. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be behind a 16-dog team; I thought 8 was spectacularly speedy. I giggled the whole way. Then I giggled some more when I got to hold the most adorable puppies. Emerging from Denali’s shadow, we came to Wasilla, home of the Iditarod Headquarters (and museum and gift shop). They do indeed give rides here for a small fee. The fee is worth it. The wind will blow your hair back and your smile will spread from ear to ear. These dogs are quite different from the sled dogs of Denali National Park. Just as the ranger had instructed, the race dogs are leaner, with wider feet, less fluffy, built for speed. The brief bit of the movie I saw showed these dogs wearing coats to sleep and booties to race. The Denali dogs do not require such luxuries.
To bring you back to the start of the day, I need to correct a misstatement from yesterday. You can, in fact, see the mountain Denali from the public access area of the park. You do not need to take the 80-mile shuttle. If you go nearly to the end of the 15-mile public road, there are a few pullouts where its dual peaks are just visible. From these vantages you get the sense of how massive the mountain is. It sticks up behind respectable mountains though it is much farther away. You can also see why people do not think you can see it from this tiny section of the park – it would be easy to mistake it for a cloud. And the mountain weather can be unpredictable anyway. Clouds are always in the sky; rain is a frequent occurrence. But we timed it just right. We had blue sky this morning.
After our morning hike around the Savage River, we headed south to Anchorage and slightly longer twilight nights. There are numerous viewpoints for Denali for about a hundred miles on the highway south of the park entrance. Thanks to our weather luck, we had blue skies most of the way. The mountain presented us with a cloud hat (or a cloud toupee) for much of our viewing. Again, I cannot overstate just how massive that mountain is.
So, from Anchorage tonight with another full belly (this time with fresh sockeye salmon served over rice and asparagus), I find myself once again missing my Tempe pup, but thankful to be spending the night with another of Nicole’s friends… who also conveniently has a pup.
Until tomorrow from Copper Center…