Standing atop the Summit at Denali

Published: June 18th 2017
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When we awoke this morning we weren’t sure what the day held in store for us. We took our time rising, and we thought that we would have an easy day catching up on the blog, now a few days delinquent. We never imagined that before the day was over, we would have the opportunity of a lifetime to stand atop Denali AND have our picture taken at the 20-thousand plus foot summit. And we wouldn’t be making the mistake that that first climber made, reaching the wrong summit some 400 feet below the true peak.

We had breakfast at Karsten’s in Denali Square just a short walk from our lodge room in Building “N”. There are a couple of dozen 2-story buildings where people have a view of the river. Karsten’s opened last season and is a popular eatery combined featuring Starbuck’s coffee drinks; but, very nice for us for the convenience because it didn’t require us to wait for a shuttle to take us up the hill. I had the mushroom and cheese omelet and Sharon got the scrambled eggs with bacon. My omelet came without breakfast meat; but, Sharon shared her bacon with me as she normally does.

We returned to our cabin and planned to get caught up on the blog. I did manage to get the day written up about our visit to the hot springs. It was approaching noon and we popped out, planning to go for lunch. Sharon suggested that this was my one chance to have pizza, at the place that came so highly recommended by that tall and handsome, not to mention best, bus driver, that was off-property at the top of the hill. We needed to return to our room because there was a definite chill in the air as the wind was kicking up and the skies looked threatening. As we came back out of our rooms, we did so just in time to see the van driving off without us, which could mean that we would likely have a thirty minute wait. I suggested that we might use that thirty minutes to impress everyone back home by having our picture take on top of Denali.

We walked back to the Denali Square where there was an “Artist in Resident” at the Sourdough Studio and we went in to inquire about getting our picture taken. They outfitted us in the appropriate cold weather gear, with native garb, leggings and boots, furry hats and the like. I was given a walking stick for that authentic look; while, Sharon held a pair of snow shoes. We stood in front of a log cabin, right there in the studio, and snap-snap we had several pictures: smiling, looking in awe and even one with Sharon pushing me off the summit. We had opted to buy the small 5x7 pictures; but, chose to get the electronic version as well, available for $75 including a series of impressive wildlife pictures and which includes the rights for printing all of the pictures. And when we walked over to the shuttle stop, there was the next van just pulling up. The driver was very nice, and congratulated us for having our picture taken atop Denali, and then showed us her picture of her riding a moose. She had sent the picture to her kids in Alabama and they were aghast that their mother was engaging in such reckless and dangerous pastimes.

We walked across the street at the top of the hill at a traffic light-controlled intersection to a seemingly endless strip mall of buildings, many connected by a common wooden boardwalk in front. We located Prospector’s Pizza and checked out the menu which included a grilled chicken sandwich on ciabatta for Sharon. I went for the “Cub-Sized” Prospector Pizza (pepperoni, sausage, mozzarella, red sauce, mushroom, sweet red chili peppers and onion) which meant that I had a sizeable 13” pizza to consume; which, was at least more manageable for me than the “Grizzly-Sized” pizza. There was the option for either salmon pizza or pizza made with one-and-one-half pound of Alaskan King Crab offered only in the Grizzly Size for just under $60. I’ve had good luck ordering dishes named after the establishment, and this time was no exception. The pizza was on a nicely oven browned crust, not too thick and not too thin, and was very tasty, and those peppers were wonderful. Sharon liked her sandwich enough to take her leftovers home, and we’d pretty much decided that this was another lunch/dinner for us... although Sharon was open to snacking later. She hadn’t lost focus that here real reason for coming across the street for me to have pizza was that there was also an ice cream place that had come highly recommended by the bus driver, and which he alluded as to being the inspiration for Moose Tracks. We walked by many sections of the strip mall, and almost gave up on finding the ice cream place; before, we did eventually find the store. Sharon tried a cup containing expresso and chocolate; but, her verdict was that the ice cream while good didn’t quite live up to the hype.

We somehow missed the store that we later heard about, that had opened recently after the laws in Alaska changed recently allow this industry to sell their product. We returned to our room and readied our bags for the journey to Anchorage and I caught up on a few more blog entries.


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