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October 6th 2002
Published: May 17th 2010
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The Road NorthThe Road NorthThe Road North

Driving to Denali National Park

Alaska - One Month




My travel career all started on the 2nd of September 2002, I left Heathrow airport and, 25 hours and 3 flights later, arrived in Anchorage. The views from the windows for the final 2 hours of the flight were amazing, you could see glaciers and the shape of the land as we flew over beautiful snow-capped mountains.

After a couple of days in Anchorage to acclimatise we headed north to Denali National Park, and after some bear-procedure training we set off into our allocated 50 square mile area and we went “Into The Wild”. We spent 4 days hiking around this area, following a river up into the mountains and back again. We saw 6 bears, 5 from a distance and one I saw up close and personal. It was at the end of the 4 days and we were only 30 minutes away from the road where we would meet the bus back to HQ, for this reason we had stopped singing “Hey Bear” and shouting in order to scare the bears away. As I came out of a wooded area I reached the river again and drinking by the river was a
Denali National ParkDenali National ParkDenali National Park

Preparing the night before
big 9 - 10 foot brown bear, lucky for me he was facing away from me, got scared and ran away. Within 10 seconds he was gone after running about 200 metres along the river bed.




Back in Anchorage we hired a car for a week and drove around the Kenai Peninsula, camping and sleeping in the car, to really enjoy the national parks and its natural beauty. We drove all over the peninsula and did a lot of camping and hiking. The Homer spit was an interesting natural phenomena but my favourite experiences from this week were both close to Seward.

We climbed Mt. Marathon (elev. 4603 ft) for great views overlooking the town of Seward and Resurrection Bay. The mountain is famous because every 4th of July there is a footrace where runners must climb one and a half miles to the top and then descend the same distance back down to Seward. The entire race is roughly 3 and a half miles long and as I can testify the climb is rugged, with loose rubble, and it´s steep, we were up and down in 3 hours with 30 mins at the top
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Warming up the night before we set off on a trek.
to enjoy the view but the current record is an amazing 43 mins 11 seconds (Up and Down).

The other excursion we did from Seward was to visit the Harding Icefield, located in the Kenai Mountains within the Kenai Fjords National Park. It is an expanse of ice covering 1100 square miles, including 40 glaciers which descend from it. We hiked up a trail which took us up over the Exit Glacier (I was so thirsty I ate some of the glacier) to a point where only those with crampons could continue and you couldn´t see where the ice finished, a beautiful spot.





We returned the car to Anchorage and then jumped on the Alaska Marine Highway System (or the ferry to non-Americans) that would take us south to the lower 48 states.
A really cool trip, sleeping on deck, spending hours just looking at the amazing scenery and one night we were awoken by an announcement from the capitan and we rushed outside to catch the last moments of the Northern lights, the Aurora Borealis.


Along the way we stopped at Juneau (the capital), Wrangell and Ketchikan before arriving in Bellingham,
Denali National ParkDenali National ParkDenali National Park

We began our trip by following a river...
Washington state about 10km from the Canadian border.

Juneau was a cute little town, San Francisco-esq (i.e. American style street on little hills) where we stayed about 3 days, we climbed the mountain to be met by some of the many tourists that had disembarqued from one of the cruise ships and jumped on the cable car to the mountain top. It was joyous to hear some say "I don't see no dumb bear" and walk around with their big fat guts wobbling in the wind.

On one of the days we hiked along the side of the Mendenhall glacier and found a trail that took us down to an ice cave that went under the glacier, we climbed about 70 - 80 metres under the glacier to see a river flowing underneath, the blue colours were sensational.






In Wrangell we did some hiking and camping, chopped some wood with an axe and got asked to speak the "queens english" by some locals, they thought it sounded so cute, and admittedly we did.



Ketchikan was a much bigger town but it was raining all of the 26 or 27 hours we spent there. We slept in a school, in a stand next to the playing fields and were awoken to an american football lesson.





Additional photos below
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Denali National ParkDenali National Park
Denali National Park

.... fighting through vegetation
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Denali National Park

.... scaling slopes...
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Denali National Park

... and crossing rivers
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Denali National Park

We saw a bear from afar
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Denali National Park

Glacial run off
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Denali National Park

Time for some grub
On the RoadOn the Road
On the Road

The car we hired for a week
On the RoadOn the Road
On the Road

Just after we hired the car
The Road to WhittierThe Road to Whittier
The Road to Whittier

Beautiful scenery as we approached a huge mountain
A Town called HopeA Town called Hope
A Town called Hope

Population = a handful


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