Friday, July 8, 2011

Alaska Day 6

Denali
5 – Breakfast at the Denali Cabins
6 – Embark on the Denali Backcountry Adventure
12 – Enjoy a buffet in Denali National Park
8 – Dine at the Black Diamond Grill

This was an EARLY day.  We had to wake up in the 5s b/c our bus was coming at 6 AM to pick us up for our adventure.  When we boarded the bus and saw that it was mostly older people, I knew it wasn’t going to be too “adventurous”.  They gave us a packing list of rain gear, hiking boots, jackets, bottles of water, bug spray, thermal (NO COTTON) long underwear and more.  We didn’t need any of this b/c we were on the bus for the whole time except for a few bathroom stops.  They even had water and snacks for us.  Anyway, despite the exaggerated name and packing list we had a fun time getting to see the park up close and personal.  Especially when we saw 4 of the top 5 animals.  We saw grizzly bears, moose, caribou, dall sheep, but no wolves.  But after seeing the movie Frozen, I’m glad we didn’t see any wolves :)

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Notice the caribou running merrily along…

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And then noticing the bear…

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And then running merrily away…

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Panoramic picture, click to see bigger:

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After the long 6.5 hour bus ride, we made it to the interior of Denali National Park and ate lunch.  While everyone was eating a guy from the local airport came to ask if anyone wanted to fly back instead of taking the 6 hour bus ride.  Of course Luke jumped all over that opportunity!  So we took off in the little Cessna plane to view Mt. McKinley up close and personal. 

Mt. McKinley is the tallest point in North America standing at 20,320 feet.  Although there are plenty of taller peaks out there, it is the tallest vertical rise from base to summit in the world.  It was pretty amazing seeing it so close from the plane.  At one point I thought we were going to crash right into it, but the pilot said we were still miles away, it was just that big!

Another panoramic:

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Here’s the route we took:

Denali ElevationDenali Flight

 

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We made it back to the park’s visitor center around 4:30.  We had time to grab some dinner, get back to our cabin and watch 2 episodes of Law & Order before our bus got back at 8 PM.  That would’ve been a super long 14 hour day if we rode the bus back.  Good choice Luke!  That night I opened Surprise 6 which was kazoos from our wedding reception :)

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