Denali National Park and Preserve

Trip Start May 06, 2010
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80
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Trip End Oct 14, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Monday, August 9, 2010

I went back to Denali National Park and Preserve today.  It was clearer than yesterday and it wasn't raining but it was in the fifties with 40 mile an hour gusts so the weather wasn't the best.  My first stop was the Wilderness Access Center to buy a ticket for a shuttle bus tomorrow.

There is one road into Denali.  Park visitors are allowed to drive the first 15 miles.  Access to the rest of the road normally requires that you go by either a shuttle bus or a tour bus.  The shuttle buses just provide transportation.  The tour buses give narration along the way.  I decided to skip the narration and just go for the transportation.  The park road is 92 miles long and a round trip between the Wilderness Access Center and Kantishna at the end of the road takes the shuttle bus 13 hours.  I bought a ticket that will get me as far as the Eielson Visitor Center 66 miles into the park, an 8-hour round trip.

While I was at the Wilderness Access Center I noticed that they showed a different movie about the park than the one I saw at the Visitor Center so I watched it.  I then drove as far as I'm allowed to go.  I wanted to park there and hike along the river but there were no parking spaces.  I headed back towards the park entrance and stopped at the Savage River Cabin Loop Trail instead.  The Savage Patrol Cabin is the first cabin built for use by the people building the road.  Cabins were built roughly every 10 or 12 miles along the path of the road and were used for cooking.  After the road workers moved on the cabins were used by the rangers as they traveled around the park. 

As I walked the trail I noticed a lot of mushrooms.  Since the taiga environment (the boreal forest) is not a place most people visit often I thought that some of my mycologically inclined friends would appreciate seeing what's there so I spent some time taking pictures.  (I'll get them onto this page at some point but it won't be until I get home.  I can't get the copy of Photoshop on my laptop to work.)  I eventually made it to the cabin.

A volunteer mans the cabin and tells people about that cabin in particular and the cabins in general.  I chatted with him for a while.  Then one of the tour buses came along and he did a more formal presentation for them. 

After his presentation I drove back to the Murie Science & Learning Center near the park entrance but, unfortunately, it was after their 5:00 closing time.  I tried to call the other student from my mountaineering class who lives nearby to see if he was interested in dinner but I couldn't reach him.  I thought I could use a break from hiking so even though it was early and there was still plenty of daylight left I headed back toward my hotel.

I stopped at a store that sells uluit.  An ulu is a traditional Inuit knife and uluit is the plural of ulu in the Inuit language.  Most of the uluit I've seen have seemed to be souvenirs rather than a useful kitchen tool but a store near the park had some that seemed to be better made than the ones I've seen before.  I wound up buying one as well as a birch bowl the right size for use with the ulu.

I headed back to my hotel.  I have to get up early tomorrow in order to catch my bus.
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