Pardon the short entries and weird photo format- I went light on tech for this trip and am blogging from my iPhone with just the photos on it. I'll upload lots of amazing pics when we return home.
Today we left Anchorage around 7:30am (thanks to kids who were up at 6!) and headed north. We were lucky enough to get a few views of the top of Denali before it clouded in for the day. We stopped several times along the way and still made it to the park at noon.
After a quick picnic, we talked with some park rangers to get advice on safe places for just the three of us to hike, got our free national parks pass for military members (this is new and so, so nice!), and off we went. We drove into the park as far as personal vehicles are allowed (mile 15) and stopped at the Savage River Loop trail. There were plenty of other people around, and even some trail workers, so we set out on the two-mile hike along and across the river.
After nearly two days of saying how tired they were of being in the car, the kids finally GOT it. Got why I wanted to trek up here to visit Denali, even though we have mountains out our living room window. Attitudes turned, kids followed our hiking rules intentionally, and a certain 4-year-old even held my hand the whole way because he wanted to. The near-500-mile drive was worth just that one hour of being surrounded by enormous rocky outcroppings, types of wildflowers that we couldn't name (we usually know them all!), and a small but roaring river at our feet. We often joke that Alaskan scenery is like that movie "The Truman Show," in that it seems so perfect that at any moment it could just be rolled away like movie sets The drive here today was just that- huge, picture-perfect views making our car seem tiny in comparison.
We saw a caribou today. We decided he would have made good pepperoni and breakfast sausage. I think we may in fact be official Alaskans. We also saw a bull moose and a cute thing that looked like a prairie dog, although I'm sure it was something else.
We are staying at McKinley Creekside Cabins, which is even nicer than its website depicts. The kids are sleeping inside while I enjoy the view on he deck. Dinner was at the Denali Salmon Bake, which was also better than expected but still definitely a place for tourists.
Tomorrow we plan to hike some more (buying the kids new hiking shows yesterday has certainly helped their eagerness to hit the trails!) and maybe visit the park's sled dog kennel. Hooray for a day without driving very far!
Photos: from the South Denali viewpoint from the Parks Hwy., creek at our night's lodging, us on the Savage River trail, dinner.