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Alaska Range/Denali Fly By, AK
mini location map2014-07-03
38 by photographer avatarTrishness
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Alaska Range/Denali Fly By, AK 
Alaska Range/Denali Fly By, AK
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I was fortunate to spend two glorious weeks in Alaska in July 2014 with my high-school friend Robin who moved to Fairbanks in 1982 from Connecticut. And after 32 years in Alaska, I think I can conclusively say she is a native. Given that aspect my trip in this region was not going to be the usual, run of the mill, touristy glacier boat ride with 500 other people that I want to push overboard or spending a week in tourist shops in Healy or at the “Million Dollar Thruway” at the entrance to Denali National Park on the Parks Highway at overpriced hotels. This was a journey that just blew my mind. It’s the real deal folks and off the beaten path….way off the beaten path and more like at the end of the road. That suited me just fine.

July 3rd we left Fairbanks and headed down the Parks Highway (AK 3) toward Denali National Park which is about 125 miles or a two hour drive. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies! We passed through the towns of Nenana and Healy and just north of Healy is Stampede Road. For any of you who read the book “Into the Wild” about Chris McCandless and his untimely death in interior Alaska, this was the road that he took, crossed the Savage River and eventually hiked on the Stampede Trail to his final destination at the “Magic Bus No 142”.

There are a few choices when visiting Denali NP. You cannot simply drive in, pay a fee and drive the 92 miles on the Park Road. I think they offer a lottery every September and if you win, you can drive the road as far as road conditions allow…but this is July so no lottery. You are allowed to drive 15 miles in to the Savage River trailhead but no farther than that. The other options are #1 Book a flight in a puddle-jumper prop plane and take the bus out 92 miles, #2 take the bus in and take the puddle jumper flight out, #3 take the bus in and take the bus out or #4 hike in/bike in out and hope to get a ride on the bus (if there is room). Robin and I decided on option #1 and we had made reservations with KatAir for a flight to Kantishna at the Skyline Lodge. We did a fly-by of the Alaska Range leaving out of Denali Airport with our pilot Andy who pointed out the different glaciers and peaks. It was the most outstanding, amazing, spectacular, beauteous thing I have ever seen in my life and when we came up on Denali itself, I thought to myself….”how can you see something like this and not believe in God?” We landed at the Kantishna airstrip and were taken via ATVs to our lodging at Skyline Lodge but not before mosquitoes the size of B-52’s descended upon us. We got out the bug juice which is a necessity in Alaska. Kantishna is the “end of the road”at mile 92 on Denali Park Road…..anything further you need to do on foot. Skyline Lodge is the base for the KatAir pilots that ferry peeps back and forth from Denali airstrip, it is also self-sufficient in terms of solar power, composting and all around earth friendly. The rooms are bare basic with a bed and a loft area….no wifi, no tv, no cell phone. There are no bathrooms in the rooms but in the main facility there are common areas with bathrooms and showers. In my journal I noted that it was 11 PM and still light out, then became what’s known as “civil twilight” until 1 AM, then light again at 3 AM. ... html
 Culture [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Aircraft
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 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Alaska Range  Denali
 Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Glacier

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds" Ed Abbey
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