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Old 09-30-2009, 11:37 AM   #1
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Alaska trip report Phase 7 on

I know Jage asked me to tie this into the rest of my report, but I'm going to post it seperately so you don't have to load all those other pictures to get through to these.

Jage, if that really bothers you, go ahead and merge this one in also.

Denali National Park. They really screwed up the naming of this park. The natives always called it Denali. Somebody named the mountain Mt. McKinley after a presidential candidate he supported. The name stuck and was applied to the park as well. Some of the natives wanted the name Denali to be used, so, in its finite wisdom, the government changed the name of the park to Denali. They really should have left the park as McKinley National Park and changed the mountain to Denali - would have made more sense (at least to me). Ok, down off the soapbox and back to business.

We made reservation for the Teklanika campground. You have to drive in 29 miles to this campground. You cannot drive a private vehicle past the 12 mile checkpoint unless you are camping further in, and Teklanika is as far as a private vehicle can go. And when you get to your campsite, you cannot drive around anymore. Past the 12 mile checkpoint, you can only travel by park bus.

We enjoy the buses. They may be crowded at times, but both of us can watch for wildlife and scenery without driving off the 500-1000' cliffs we traveled on. You can hop on and off the bus anywhere. Hike, remote camp, sightsee, take pictures, commune with nature, anything. And no tourists driving by while not watching the road. If you stay at the Teklanika campground (3 day minimum stay) then you can purchase a TEK pass for the buses. This pass gives you unlimited bus use! For the cost of a single trip from the beginning to the end. We rode the buses all 4 days we were there. Just too much to see. One day we saw 15 grizzlies! Moose, caribou, wolves, fox, lynx, squirrels, eagles and more! Ok, I'm ready to return. Oh, there were also some mountains and valleys and rivers to look at.


Driving into the park


Further into the park


The Alaska RR trestle for trains into the park


Indian Head Rock. He is laying on his backside. This is the limit of private travel unless you are camping further in.


Arrived at the campground. 29.1 miles into the park. End of private vehicle travel. 63 more miles to the end of the only road into the park.


First of 4 views from the back of our campsite on the river.








On the bus. The only way to travel into the park. 50 other pairs of eyes to see wildlife, etc.


A Bald Eagle in flight


Same eagle, zoomed in


A good looking grizzly. This one is fairly close.


A red fox.


A young bald eagle. The white accents don't happen until the 3rd year.


Three moose.


Two more moose.


A grizzly and her cub. On the hill above them you can see.....


This wolf. He is guarding a caribou calf's leg. Probably he killed the calf and the grizzly stole most of it from him. They have it down the hill, out of sight.


The next day the mother and cub were still hanging around. Probably because the calf wasn't fully eaten yet.


A couple of caribou.


I hiked up this hill to get a good shot of the Eillson Visitor Center for you. Sure I did. This is the main stop for most visitors - see all the buses. And a really good view of Mt. McKinley.


An all too frequent view of Mt. McKinlely. On average, the mountain is visible 3 days each month during the summer.


Another view of the big mountain. Well, it would be if the skies were clear.


There are other mountains to look at.


500+' down to the valley floor. Or, as the bus driver said "About 10 rolls of the bus"


Sometimes the views are just overwhelming


As we were leaving, the skies cleared and let us see the mountain.


Another view as we exit the park.


South of the park on the way to Anchorage, another side of the mountain.


Here we are about 50 miles from the mountain. It just takes your breath away when you see it clearly.

Stay tuned for the next episode.

Mike
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:08 PM   #2
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Re: Alaska trip report Phase 7 on

Thanks for sharing Mike. It brings back good memories.

The bus drivers there are great. Friendly, informative, not too chatty, and ALWAYS willing to stop the bus for viewing of animals or of scenery.

McKinley was shrouded in clouds the entire time we were there, though we did take a scenic flight around and over the mountain. Once above the cloud layer, it was spectacularly clear weather and the mountain was really impressive/imposing. That flight and the train trip we took from Anchorage to Denali and back were the highlights of our trip to Alaska.


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Old 09-30-2009, 10:11 PM   #3
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Re: Alaska trip report Phase 7 on


Thanks for the pics and the great write-up Mike. 'The mountain' was playing hide and seek while we were there in 2008... and unfortunately, it was mostly seek once we got close enough to really take it all in. Phil (pjpvi) and family nailed the great weather the week before we arrived - so we know that it is possible to hit it just right. In any case, we are already looking forward to next time.
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Old 10-01-2009, 03:50 PM   #4
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Re: Alaska trip report Phase 7 on

Continuing on the trip.

Went out to McCarthy/Kennicott in the heart of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The old Kennicott mine facility is pretty impressive. And you can walk out onto a glacier!


Heading into Wrangell Mountains


Further in


The Copper River, a glacier fed river.


A moose eating from stream


Net fishing for Salmon.


60 miles of bad, washboard road to go.


Kuskulana bridge. An old RR bridge. 500' long and 280' above the river. Now a single lane wooden bridge for road traffic.


Another old (unused) RR trestle.


Wrangell Mountains and Root Glacier


Camped alongside the Kennicott River


The old Kennicott mill. Tours are available. You can walk all around by yourself, but have to pay for a tour inside the main mill. Over $200,000,000 of copper was processed here.


Effects of a recent flood.


Kennicott Glacier. The dark spots are where the ice has melted and wet the debris (glacial moraine) that is covering the ice.


Except for the greenery on the other side, everything you see here is glacier ice covered with rock.


Preparing to hike the glacier. You must wear crampons to keep from falling on the ice. You can rent them in Kennicott.


A group of hikers on the ice


Glacier on the right, not glacier on the left.

Now it is time to move on to Valdez.

Mike
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Old 10-01-2009, 04:36 PM   #5
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Valdez and More

This section we go to Valdez, Worthington Glacier and head out to Dawson City. After traveling through the Yukon and a large part of BC, we will visit Hyder - the southern most part of Alaska and home to some spectacular glaciers.


All this haze is smoke. Yesterday, we saw the lightning strike that started the forest fire about 10 miles south of Kennicott.


The Tolsina River.


The first of 3 pictures of the Worthington Glacier. Just off the highway to Valdez






Ice worms. I thought they were an urban legend, but the do exist. They die when they get above freezing.


Forest fires make for marvelous sunsets. Even if they happen late into the night.


The Valdez oil terminal. Each of the oil tank on the hillside would hold a 747.


Valdez 4th of July Parade. I had forgotten how much fun a small town parade can be. It is mostly for the kids, but it was fun. Food vendors, people selling all kinds of homemade stuff - jellies, candles, wood carvings, soaps, belts, vests, etc. Great stuff.


He was huge. He was watching the parade, and he was friendly.


The Boy Scouts lead the kids on bikes


A couple of ice cream trucks, one was bicycle powered


Another human powered vehicle


Motorcycles and Sidecars


The Fire Dept brings up the end of the parade. They were throwing handfuls of candy to the kids. Every kid got plenty.

Back to real life.


Sometimes it rains.


I was on this little road, when here comes an airplane taking off. Genuine bush pilots.

Then, as I left Alaska:

A truly sad day. The first time my van has left me stranded. But, in less than 24 hours I was back on the road.


This was one of several black bears eating in the ditches. Must be good grass!


And more rain to end this entry.

Next (and last) a visit to the Salmon Glacier outside Hyder.

Mike
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Old 10-01-2009, 04:55 PM   #6
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Re: Alaska trip report Phase 7 on

Hyder is a little town at the southern end of the Alaska panhandle. It is only 900 road miles from Seattle. I'd been there a couple of times before, but never bothered to drive out to the Salmon Glacier. Now I know I will go back to see it again. It was the most spectacular glacier of the whole trip.


On the road down to Hyder you will see the Bear Glacier. It dumps into this little lake right beside the highway.


Heading out to Salmon Glacier, we had to wait for 30 minutes. Overnight a slide had blocked the road. This had been one big rock, but they broke it up so it could be moved.


First views of Salmon Glacier.


The river formed by melt from the glacier.


The western arm of Salmon Glacier


The main viewpoint for the glacier


The eastern arm of the glacier


The road continued past the viewpoint, and no one could tell me what was out there. So, I had to go.


The lake on the left is filled by the glacier melt. The valley ahead is full of commercial mining. All of this is in Canada.


After about 10 miles this valley opened up


This helicopter was moving supplies to mine much further up the valley


The hills behind me were about a mile off, and you could hear the water pouring down the hillsides.


Its only July. This snow will melt by the middle of Sept.

And so ends another Alaskan vacation. I hope this inspires some of you to make your own trip. Trust me, it is worth it.

Mike
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Old 10-01-2009, 05:08 PM   #7
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Re: Alaska trip report Phase 7 on

very very cool buddy i am sold!

hey, what happend to the van when you had it towed??
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Old 10-01-2009, 05:20 PM   #8
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Re: Alaska trip report Phase 7 on

See the thread:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=3251

Mike
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Old 10-01-2009, 08:43 PM   #9
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Re: Alaska trip report Phase 7 on

Excellent pics and report Mike. Thanks very much for taking the time to put all of this together.

Never been, but Alaska is #1 on my list of places to visit.
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:44 PM   #10
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Re: Alaska trip report Phase 7 on

After our first trip to Alaska in 99, we put together a photo album. Sharing the album was always such a joy, almost like revisiting Alaska.

Putting this together is similar, but not as gratifying - I miss the personal contact, the smiles, the questions. As I mentioned at the beginning, I'm bringing that photo album to the October Meet and Greet in the Sierra's for anyone who wants to see it. It is a record of my all time best vacation trip.

Mike
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