Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 7, Anchorage to Denali

Anchorage weather:  High 67, Low 55; raining in morning
Denali National Park weather:  High 64, Low 51; brilliant sunshine with fluffy clouds once we arrived!
Steps walked:  Shaun 5769 and 26 flights of stairs; Shannon 5,715 steps and 18 flights of stairs
Critter count:  2 pairs of trumpeter swans (the largest water fowl in the world...who mate for life which I think is very cool), 1 young bull moose, 4 Dahl sheep, 1 beaver, and 1 sand hill crane

Hi there.  Shaun at the blogging helm tonight.  Today was a transition day for us.  We woke up early (which didn't make me happy because I couldn't sleep for some reason).  We had to be at the train station by 7:15, and our wonderful B&B guy, Larry, packed a brown bag breakfast for us to eat while traveling.  We arrived with no problems and boarded the Alaskan Star train.  We were really glad that we'd paid the extra money for the Gold Star car because we were sitting up high with glass surrounding us and we got fed real food at a table.  We were the first car behind the engines and only the 4th seat from the front.  Of course at the beginning of the ride, being in the front didn't matter because it was raining and you couldn't see out the front of the train anyway.  However, once again, after noon the skies cleared and it was beautiful.

The train from Anchorage to Denali is a long one (8 hours), and since we were already tired, it felt even longer than that.  To make matters worse, they didn't feed us until almost 2:00 after we'd eaten breakfast at 8, so I was ready to saw Shannon's leg off and eat it.  It was a very comfortable ride, though, and we got to see some nature (see the critter count), and the biggest joy of the day was the absolutely amazing views of Mount McKinley (or Denali as the locals call it, which means "The Great One").  

(that little black speck at the upper right is a little plane like we took for our flightseeing trip)

It was so strange because it was still pretty cloudy when we got our first look, and it was the last day I would have expected to get a glimpse of "The Mountain".  Only 25-30% of people who visit Denali are able to see it, and we didn't even get to see it from Talkeetna the other day, and they say your odds go up to 50% from there.  It just goes to show that you never know about these things, because the views we got from the train were so breathtaking that I can't begin to describe them.  It doesn't look's like a matte painting or something because nothing can be that beautiful....but it is!  It's so cool because now that we've had our way with Denali, we can settle in and see the rest of the park and not have to worry about structuring our days around the view.  Been there, done that, and literally got the t-shirt!

Anyway, we got to the park at 4:00 and just settled in, got our tickets for the bus trip tomorrow, ate, bathed, and set up our backpacks since we have to wake up at 4:30am to catch a 5:40 shuttle!  The trip is 13 hours and goes all the way to the end of the 92-mile road.  Let's hope we see some good stuff and that we have a significant critter count.  We wanna see some BEAR!

As an added picture for your viewing pleasure that we forgot last night, we have included this cool one from the wonderful St. Elias Brewing Company.  It was a very eclectic place (which is right up our alley), and they brew their own root beer and cream soda.  I am wearing the cool Flower Power Ale sweatshirt I got there today, so it seemed okay to include the picture from yesterday.  Kind of                        cosmically coming around again!


  1. Hi guys, we too love St. Elias Brewery, on the way there, did you see the guy that does the chain saw carvings? Did you stop, he does some amazing work. Enjoy Denali WILL see bear for sure there.

    1. We did see the carving guy, but just not at the restaurant. He was at one of the artists markets we visited. But you are right, his work is amazing.

  2. The carving guy wasn't at the restaurant, we went to his house, he had all kinds of "carvings" out in his yard and "shop". I wonder if he still has the Bear and cub I want for my basement? talk about a shipping cost :)

    Can't wait to hear about your bus trip to Kantishna....Deb