Alaska Cruise – 08/04/95

FRI.8/4 Up at 5:30. Rain. Bags were out and would go on to Anchorage. We had breakfast and out by 7.Waited a while for the bus. Lots of confusion as to who was to go on first. We had one voucher for all of us so we boarded first.

Rain, rain, rain, oh, well. We were on the train, Chena. Got started at 8:30. It is a four-hour ride to Denali, traveling at 47 MPH. Coffee is served in the observation car. You sit.up high and grand views in spite of the rain. At Saulich the sun is trying to come out. At Nenana was the center for the construction co. of the Alaska RR.

There are a lot of birch trees along the roadway. We pass Clear which is the site of the Early Warning Ballistic Missile Sites, one of three in the world (England and Greenland, the others) We pass lots of dark coal seams on our way to the Park. A lot of the coal is shipped from Healy to Seward to Korea. We go through a narrow canyon, very crooked and through tunnels to reach our Lodge for the night.

We are at McKinley Lodge at one. We have a nice chalet. We have lunch at the Lodge at 2 and then meet the bus for a ride through the Park at 3:20 The trip here was 122 miles in about 4 hours. We get off for the Park at 3:30 for a Wildlife Tour. We also picked up some people at the Denali Hotel which is in the Park.We saw the kennels of the Patrol dogs that the Park uses in the winter. They give demos in the summer. The dogs are more economical to work in the winter over the motorized patrols.

John, our driver, told us to watch for moose in the spruce trees. He is funny but very knowledgable. This is a long ride but we have two or three pit stops. We look for and found caribou,3 rainbows, lots of Dall sheep. Ptarmigan are running along the road beside us. We saw brown bears (Grizzlies), a sow with three cubs, golden eagles and Jaegers (a large white and black bird) At Sable Pass there were many Dall sheep nearby. The weather is not good but good animal weather.

The Park was called McKinley, opened in 1917, changed to Denali in 1980. We went up and up to Polychrome Pass. It is now a gravel road to East Fork River. We crossed several rivers, called braided rivers because their stream-bed is not constant and they look “braided”. We had hot chocolate before heading back and have the cups to prove it. We got back at 10:30 and it is still light.

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One Response to Alaska Cruise – 08/04/95

  1. Great post! It’s bringing back memories of our trip to Denali. The first animal we saw inside the park was moose crossing the road with her calf. I thought this was going to be boring because we see moose a lot in NH, but I was pleasantly surprised at how HUGE the Alaskan moose were! After that, everything else was icing on the cake! Loved the trains, too. Ignore the rain, because when you get lower to where there are rivers you’ll see lots of bear fishing in the rain.

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