We arrived very early, not quite with the sun as the sun rises around 3 AM, but around 6 AM.
We make breakfast, pack our lunches and head off to the park. We start our day with a summit
of Mount Healy. It's only a 3100 foot elevation gain, but this is accomplished in less than 2 miles
so it is quite steep. And to our happy surprise, the sun is bright and shining and it's almost 70°.
It is crystal clear, and we have the promise of getting a great view of Mount Denali.
Alaska fun fact: Mt Denali is the tallest mountain in the United States, also known as Mt
McKinley. The highest peak is over 20,000 feet.
Mt Healy is challenging, but the views at the top are incredible. We make our way back down
and start our trip into the park. We drive the 30 miles in, appreciating Denali along the way. At
mile 9 and 11, we are able to get amazing views of Mount Denali. This is rare
as one can only
see the peaks 1/3 of the days of the year given the cloud cover. We make it to mile 30 and then
we head back to the Savage River area which is around mile 14. The Denali Park system is so
different. There are some hiking trails, but the entire park is accessible to hike. Also, the park
never closes, so it is accessible 24 hours a day. So backcountry hiking is really the way to go.
We each paid $20 for entrance to the park, and this allows you to come for a weeks time. But to
be honest, no one would really check that. There's no pass you need to put on your car and
there's no really receipt for your purchase. But of course we are happy to support the national
If I'm going to be honest, Denali national park itself really isn't all that beautiful. The views from
certain peaks and lookouts are incredible, as is the wildlife, but the vast
majority of the park is
rolling valleys of brown grass and gravel sediment likely from the previous glacier beds. We
stop at the Savage Valley River and do a gentle hike there. At that time we run into five Caribou
and a doll sheep and are able to get some amazing pictures. We were only about 10 feet away.
Alaska fun fact: if a bear sees you, hold your ground, speak softly, and walk backwards. If a
moose sees you, run. They likely will not chase you. If a bear attacks you, play dead, but if they
start to eat you, fight back. This was an actual sign.
David was really hoping to see some bears and we fortunately lucked out. Down by the river we
saw two grizzly bears. Some reports where that it was a mom and a cub the other reports were
that it was too grown cubs. We were unclear but they were sure cool. We got some nice photos
and I'm retired for the day.
We grab some pizza and beer at the local pizzeria it was alright and
we had quite the early night. We were ready for round two the next day.
We start day two at Savage River and we do an 8 mile hike traversing a mountain range. Today
is not as clear and we can no longer see the top of Denali. The rocky mountain range provides
a variety of terrain, wildlife, and views. The cloud cover is almost magical and hangs thick like a
blanket. We ended the hike down again at the Savage River where now the bears are even
closer. We are able to get some awesome photos. The bear are so cute and so curious to
watch. We decided to end our time at Denali at the 49th State Brewery which is just about 10
miles north. We get a flight of beer and their beers are decent. The notable brew was the
Golden Dahl, which was a Belgian inspired triple. 9% ABV and tasted like a hefeweissen.
Dangerous. We watch the Warriors game and I had the best seafood of the trip. Fresh crab,
salmon and scallops. Unreal. We don't get too great of a night sleep. We are both adjusting to
the bright, bright sun. We both have a lot of coffee the next morning to start our long drive down
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