Brisk and cloudy overcast days during the summer often trigger memories of a visit I took to Alaska many years back. It was one of many memorable trips I had taken when my schedule was more forgiving for longer excursions. The images from the trip are on 35mm film (yes, it was that long ago) and were left as is, raw, just like what Alaska seemed to be at the time.
Anchorage to Denali
With the Milepost in tote, the bible to navigating around the state (and a thick book back then), I set off on a five hour trip heading north from Anchorage to Denali National Park. Passing through miles of wilderness with glimpses of wildlife along the way, I remember how amazing and untouched everything looked. The occasional java huts, sporadic along the road, were perfect coffee stops and while the buildings stood out from the view, there were so few of them and confined to a small structure, they didn’t impact the scenery.
Once at the gate to Denali, a shuttle bus took me deep inside the park. Here I truly found miles of raw open lands. Dall sheep could be found perched high atop mountain rocks. With binoculars I spotted a few red foxes, likely a mother with her brood of pups (also called kits). When bears had come into view, the shuttle bus would pause to enjoy the moment (we spotted several black bears in the park, and one grizzly during the visit). It’s true what you may read about Wonder Lake, it’s home to gargantuan sized mosquitoes which seem to infest the place. Bird-sized mosquitoes aside, backpacking out to the lake is glorious. One of the perks to visiting Wonder Lake of course is the opportunity to camp out at the park and wake up to the views of North America’s highest mountain peak, Mount McKinley.
The Drive to Valdez
Heading to the port of Valdez I found long rough-road ways and again miles of open terrain, speckled with waterfalls running down hills, fresh ice cold lakes and inlets. I enjoyed finding a moose nonchalantly wading in water, deer, and caribou along with a host of other animals in their natural habitat. Along the route I stopped at Worthington Glacier in beautiful Thompson Pass. But I think I was most intrigued by a scenic detour to Kennecott which required a 4×4 jeep to reach the place. The abandoned mill, now a ghost town and nearby glacier left an impressions and were a highlight of the trip. It was a true trip back in time to pass through the historic site then hike on the snow and ice.
The journey continues.