Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Denali National Park - the beauty and the perverse

Keep close to Nature's heart...
and break clear away, once in awhile,
and climb a mountain
or spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean.
John Muir

After leaving Anchorage (for good) we spent a rainy night in the Chugach Mountains and then headed straight to Denali National Park. And it was kind of a shock: in Katmai, we had wilderness for us alone. You could walk there without seeing anybody for days. Then we came to the Denali Wilderness Access Center and there were nearly hundreds of people! All of them keen on experiencing the wild. For a short moment I was really thinking of driving away as fast as we came because that had nothing to do with nature for me. But I was wrong. You just need a while to get an idea of how the system in Denali works - and it's a lot of organizing and paper work, getting reservations and permits... and you often have to wait for several days unless you can go into the park on your own. Basically, you need a backcountry permit for one of the wilderness units - and you have to talk to the rangers etc. regarding bear etiquette and survival outdoors, or you have one of the rare and strictly limited reservations for one of the dedicated tent areas in the park. Then you just have to catch a ride on one of the Shuttle busses (usually there are no private vehicles allowed in the park) that will bring you to the destination you want to go and explore. Just be sure you have everything you need, including a bear resistant food canister and maybe the drinking water that you need - depending on your destination. The bus will then drop you off and pick you up again after your adventure.

In our case, we were quite lucky in getting a permit for one of the most favored tent areas: at Wonder Lake - that's almost at the end of the road, nearly 80 miles into the park.

The bus into the park is a shuttle bus, meaning there is no tourist guide on board, but the bus stops whenever there is an animal somewhere - may it be a grizzly, a Dall sheep, moose, caribou or whatever.

And now, let me show you some pictures!

So this is Mount Denali. (click on the pictures to get to the whole Blog-Gallery)

And that's already in the park.


This guy was eating berries...

And this one is too busy in gaining enough food for the winter...

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