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Published on July 13, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
One of many air tour companies.

One of many air tour companies.

I rode into Talkeetna this morning with the idea of checking on the price of an airplane ride to a glacier below Denali. I parked Honda and walked to one of the buildings selling air tours and talked with the guy about a flight. I really wasn’t prepared to take a flight today. The weather was pretty hazy with thunderstorms moving in later. I was mainly interested in the price, but you know how it goes, the salesman said he could get me on a flight that left in an hour and he would give me a 10% discount – yeah, right. The price was a little more than I wanted to spend but I would never get a chance like this again.

Pilot and plane. He has been doing this for 23 years.

Pilot and plane. He has been doing this for 23 years.

I checked in at Talkeetna Air Taxi 40 minutes before the flight. The salesman said that I could request the right seat if I got there early. The girl checking me in said I would have to ask the pilot. There were 5 of us on the plane, a family of 3, a young guy from Georgia, and me. The young man asked the pilot first but said he would switch after we landed on the glacier.

Flying over the Talkeetna River.

Flying over the Talkeetna River.

The plane we flew was a 6 place Beaver. The company has 9 planes so you can imagine how many people are flying into the mountains everyday. Most of the airplanes are Otters, which carry more passengers. I think our Beaver has a better view than the bigger planes.

A long river of ice.

A long river of ice.

We took off and crossed the George Parks Highway and many rivers before we saw the mountains to our north. The pilot called out the names of the rivers and told us about the glaciers where they originated. The pilot said there was about 10 miles visibility but it didn’t seem that good to me.

On the Ruth Glacier.

On the Ruth Glacier.

We soon saw the mountains and followed the Ruth Glacier for several miles. Several granite peaks came into view and at last a look of the South Peak of Denali.

We made a slow turn and landed uphill on Ruth Glacier. There were already two Otters on the snow when we got there. Everyone got out and took thousands of pictures and walked around on the snow.

We got to see the other planes take off. The downhill slope of the glacier helps with the takeoff but I remarked to the pilot that we had a tailwind. He said it is almost always like that.

I took some movies but can't upload those.

I took some movies but can’t upload those.

I sat in the front seat with the pilot on the way back. The view was not any better up there because of the haze and the engine cowling, but I got to watch the instruments and the pilot handle the plane.

We followed the glacier for several miles until the landscape turned to muskeg, rivers and lakes. The glacier we landed on was over 1000 feet thick, but all the glaciers are retreating over the last years.

I’m glad I didn’t save the money and miss all the fun of a glacier landing.

 
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Published on July 12, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Susitna River is 313 miles long. Stretches from the Susitna Glacier to Cook Inlet.

Susitna River is 313 miles long. Stretches from the Susitna Glacier to Cook Inlet.

I had some excitement driving south on Alaska Rt. 3 this morning. I left my campsite about 9:00 am and stopped at Denali National Park to dump and take on water. I was following a Class C pulling a toad about an hour later when I noticed smoke coming from the tow car. All of a sudden a tire flew off the car and rolled across the road and down into the ditch. I had slowed down when I saw the tire come off so I was quite a way behind the motorhome. I figured he would realize something was wrong and would pull over but he kept on down the road. I sped up to catch him and flashed my lights and blew my horn. He finally pulled off the road and I pulled in behind him.

Most of the front right tire was gone. The rim looked okay but was probably ruined. He said he never noticed a thing; it drove normal. He was going to put on his spare, doughnut tire and try to get it fixed in Talkeetna. I told him to go slow and he should be okay. I asked him if he needed any help and he said no. There was nothing else I could do so I continued on.

It's out there behind that mist!

It’s out there behind that mist!

A few miles later I came to Denali State Park and pulled in at the Mountain View Point. There were several people lined up along the railing, studying the mountain photo, and trying to figure out which one was Denali. One man that seemed sure he knew where it was pointed out the snow-covered base with the peak covered in mist. This is the second time I have seen the bottom slopes of Denali, but the top still evades me.

Looking up river.

Looking up river.

I’m camped along the Susitna River in a nice campsite on the sand and gravel beach. There is a large forest behind me with tall Aspens and Cottonwood trees. The only drawback will be if the ATVs come out and race up and down this weekend

I met a nice couple back at my last camp and they have joined me here. I will tell more about them in a future post.

Tomorrow I will visit Talkeetna and check into the Denali scenic flight. Richard has often said it was one of the highlights of their trip and to do it if at all possible. I would love to take the flight but it will depend on the price.

 
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Published on July 11, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Couch Potato

Couch Potato

Rainy days and Tuesdays...

Rainy days and Tuesdays…

This note is just to continue the chronicle of my time in Alaska. I have taken three days to do little of nothing other than to hide from the rain, wind, and cold. I’m still 10 miles north of Denali at the little spot of BLM I found on the web. It looks like tomorrow will be a good travel day so I’m planning to drive down near Talkeetna to find a camping place.

 
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Published on July 8, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Take Off!

Take Off!

Rain is predicted to settle in for the next few days so I rode to the park for one last activity. Denali is known for its generous stance as a wilderness area. In a wilderness area, man is a visitor that does not remain, no mechanical vehicles can be used, and nature is left pretty much alone to do its thing. If I remember right, fires cannot be fought by firefighters with machines or chainsaws.

It's too hot!

It’s too hot!

Too many people

Too many people

The one theme that fits with the wilderness area of the park in winter is dog sleds. Denali park employees and volunteers maintain a kennel of 33 Alaskan Huskies for transportation through the park in the winter. Of course the dogs have to be cared for and exercised all summer, too. One of the most popular attractions is a sled dog demonstration offered free by the park.

I rode to the visitors center and stood in line for the 2:00 pm show. The show is so popular that there were enough people to fill two large busses. We were bussed only two miles to the kennels and got to walk around and meet the dogs for a half hour before the demonstration started. Most all the dogs are friendly from being handled by different trainers and having visitors around petting them.

If they used more dogs on this cart the musher would end up in the bushes on the turn.

If they used more dogs on this cart the musher would end up in the bushes on the turn.

The Alaskan Huskies used as sled dogs are bred for their long legs, wide paws, bushy tails, powerful lean bodies, and intelligence. They are highly trained athletes and they love to run! Any temperature above 20° is too warm for them so they sleep outside in the snow all winter.

Hard for them to stand still.

Hard for them to stand still.

The demonstration consisted of hooking 5 dogs to a wheel cart and watching them race around a circular track. Then the narrator/park ranger told the story of the dogs while the crowd watched. It was interesting to learn the different positions the dogs are harnessed in the line, and how they are chosen for their position.

When the show was over everyone could go back to pet the dogs some more or wait for the bus. There was a nice path back to the visitors center that was only 2 miles, so I walked. I probably will hang out at camp for a few days until this rain system moves on.

 
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Published on July 8, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Our bus

Our bus

Yesterday I rode to Denali and purchased a ticket to ride into the wilderness area of Denali. The bus trip I purchased, 53 miles to the Toklat River, was the shortest excursion they offered into the heart of the park. Some of the tours were over 90 miles and lasted all day. I figured that 6 hours on a school bus would be long enough.

During the night it rained and rained. My bus ride was scheduled for noon so I was hopeful the rain would stop before I had to leave for the park. If it was still raining in the morning, I would have to pack everything and drive Minnie instead of Honda. Luckily, the morning was dry but still very cloudy. I could ride Honda but a peek at Denali’s peak was not going to happen.

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A retreating glacier.

A retreating glacier.

The seats on the bus were a lot better than I feared. They were actually quite comfortable with adequate leg room. The bus driver was very knowledgeable and personable, too. Several people said we were lucky to get him. The bus driver is not actually required to narrate the tour back into the park but we received lots of information from a nice guy. Our driver ( whose name is Dale, but that doesn’t have anything to do with this) has worked as a driver for the park for 35 years, knows a lot about the park, is an avid Denali backpacker, and has a great personality. Every time he would ask us if he should stop talking and let us enjoy the park in silence, we would all exclaim that he should keep telling us stories.

Chiseled far away look!

Chiseled far away look!

If you see the tallest mountain you are lucky. Most that come to the park only see clouds, and we would be amoung the many. We saw a few Caribou, a bald eagle, a moose, a snowshoe hare, and a tarm… patr… part… tparm… chicken. But the one animal that evaded us all was the mighty Grizzly.

Caribou in the road. He wouldn't move!

Caribou in the road. He wouldn’t move!

It was a fun day with a good group of people. I took lots of pictures but it is one of those places that can’t be captured with a camera. The mountains are too grand and the animals too far away to photograph without a telephoto lens. I’m going to go back over tomorrow and try to catch the sled dog demonstration.

 

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