Sep 23, 2014
Alaska: Days 4 - 6
Yes, more Alaska. I think I have only one reader left and she's related to me. Thanks for sticking with me, Emma.
Day 4: Denali National Park
Let's back up a second. Husky Homestead, where I left off in my last post, is located just outside Denali National Park. Denali is waaaay up north in Alaska. We spent quite a few hours driving to get there and passed exactly zero gas stations along the way. You know who's good at peeing in the bushes? This girl.
It's one of the most incredible National Parks we've ever been to and despite its desolate location, the park operates like a well-oiled machine.
You can only drive about 15 miles into the park. To get any further, you need to take a shuttle bus for a small fee, which is what we did. Certain buses take you to certain points in the park and since Brandon had done his homework, we knew exactly where we want to go: Polychrome Pass, just before the Toklat stop.
It was raining, but our bus was cozy and our bus driver, Craig, was incredible. His wealth of knowledge about wildlife and the park in general blew our minds. He was a great storyteller and was fantastic at finding wildlife.
Things were going splendidly and then...our bus broke down.
We quickly learned that we were going no where fast. It would take two hours for Craig to get a replacement bus, so Brandon and I made the (somewhat poor) decision to hop on the next bus that came along. It was heading to the location that we wanted to go to, so why not?
This bus was crowded, hot, and had lots of crying babies...and because of the impending snow storm, our new driver wasn't sure if she'd get cleared to take us to Polychrome. We would have gladly been standing by the road chatting with Craig (bearded guy with cool curly hair above) than in our new situation.
But we stuck it out and made it to Polychrome! Boy were we glad to hop off that bus and into the fresh air.
Fresh, freezing cold air I might add. It was snowing, windy, and about 30 some degrees. We were prepared though and decided to hike down Polychrome to the lake below. Warning: there are no trails in Denali. Nope, you make your own. We even got to use our compass!
That lake in the background there was our destination. It was all downhill, so it didn't take us long, but snow boots would have been great. Our shoes and socks were completely drenched by the time we met up with the lake. But, it was the coolest (literally and figuratively) hike we've every done. Just being completely alone, in the snow, in the middle of nowhere Alaska, was such a freeing feeling.
We made it to the lake, snapped some photos, and climbed back up the slope. It was starting to get colder and windier, so we decided to catch the next bus back to the park entrance. Denali hint: any bus headed towards the entrance will pick you up and take you back. You just need to flag one down.
My feet were now turning to ice, as were my hands, so I took advantage of the hand warmers our B&B gave us and that eased the pain until a bus showed up...
...and were pleasantly surprised to see Craig driving this one with all of our friends from our first bus! Such a cool coincidence! We had a great ride back as the weather cleared up.
We even saw our first bear and its cubs!
While we only got just a taste of Denali, it was such a fantastic day. Craig told us that only about 20% of people get to see it snowing in Denali since the bus system only operates in the summer months, so we were happy to be apart of that group. The beauty of this place is just unreal. We definitely want to go back.
Day 5: Driving to Girdwood
The next day was a loooong day in the car. We had a five hour drive back down to Anchorage and then from there, another hour or so to Girdwood, where we had our next B&B booked. We took the drive slow though and stopped by some interesting places along the way, like this abandoned igloo/hotel. It never passed code, so no one actually got to stay here.
We stopped by an eclectic little store called Wal-Mikes, where I met Sarah Palin. And we also hit up one of my favorite meals all trip: a little sandwich place called Krazy Moose Subs in Wasilla, which is, coincidentally, where the "Krazy" Mrs. Palin lives.
That night we made it to Girdwood, grabbed pizza at a pub and slept like babies.
Day 6: Byron Glacier Hike / Driving to Seward
The next day we headed south towards Seward along the famous Seward Highway. Unfortunately it was pouring down rain, so we didn't get to fully enjoy the ride, but again, who can complain about rain when CA desperately needs some?
We made a pitstop at Byron Glacier for a short, but very very wet hike. I was soaked through and through after this one! It didn't spoil our time though.
It was a very flat, easy hike and a great way to break up the drive. We made it to Seward that afternoon, did a bit of shopping, and checked into our last B&B of the trip.
Well, I thought I'd be able to wrap up our trip in this post, but this is getting way too long and I have a lot to say about Harding Ice Field and our sea kayaking trip. Oh and sea otters!
And in case you have a lot of time on your hands...
Alaska: A B&B Tour
Alaska: Days 1-3
at 8:37:00 PM