Into the Mountains
Last year around this time we ventured out into the wild, into Denali National Park. We have been there so many times together before, but this time was the first time we were there together again. It was also the first time none of us still lived in Alaska. As we drove south towards the Alaska Range, my heart skipped a beat, as it always tend to do when I see those large mountains. We were listening to some bluegrass music, which is something we tend to do a lot. While driving in more remote areas we usually hook up the phone to the car radio, so we get access to offline playlists, because in Alaska you tend to loose both cellservice and radioservice. It's a common theme for anyone driving these roads. Sun was shining and spring was in the air, even though snow usually stay put on the ground until the end of April, sometimes even into May.
Silence and solitude
We were so lucky with the weather, blue sky, well semi blue sky, but what else do you need with views like these? Our friend lives right outside the park and let us use her cabin, while she was up in Fairbanks. How lucky is she, with these mountains in her backyard. It is a different life in Alaska, it's slower, but more intense. You focus on completely different things compared to people who live in larger cities. It's a different lifestyle. It's silent, around this time you could hear the water, drip, drop, drip, drop, slowly falling down the side of the cabin. Every now and then you can hear and see the moose walking by the cabin. I have had friends who have spent hours in the outhouse, because they have been trapped by a moose blocking the way back to their cabin. I know our friend outside Denali have had Lynx at her doorstep. But I love that lifestyle, and I miss it. Imagine opening up your door to this landscape.
The first day we spent a few hours in the park. Mostly driving around and some short hiking. The snow was soft and we quickly sank in, knee deep in our boots. Spring was definitely here. The winds felt warm in my face, or maybe that was just the combination with the sun, or maybe just me being in my euphoria stage, the way I get when I see these mountains. It's incredible how small we are, how small we are against these large mountains. You can see so far but yet so short. There is a wide open space out there, that is still wild. When we got hungry we drove out of the park, to this fancy restaurant that is open during the off season, and serve great local food, for the few people that live around here. I know many people who drive all the way from Fairbanks down there, just to go to this restaurant, that's about a 2 hr drive. We were lucky, we didn't have to wait too long, and we enjoyed a nice dinner before we drove back to that little cabin in the foothills of the mountains again. As the darkness fell over the cabin we played Bananagram, until we both were too tired to continue.
The next morning I woke up early, as I always tend to do. I went out and got some pictures of the mountains, and the sunrise. Those mountains, how can you not be mesmerized by them? After breakfast we packed our skis and drove back into the park. As we started skiing we saw some stretches with open water, now that is a clear sign of spring up north. We had to rethink our ski trip due to the open water, but found a safer way to cross down stream, and before we knew it we were on our way into the mountains. We continued skiing towards the mountains. It was only us, not a single other person could be seen out there. This is a common theme in Alaska, even in the summertime you can find places with no other person. Alaska is so large, so open and so wild. As in many other National Parks in the US, few people actually leave their car and venture out into the wild like we do. As we continued through the shrubs we even spotted a ptarmigan, or two. Those sneaky little birds are so beautiful, but hard to get a good picture off, so I'll leave you with one below and you can play the game "spot the bird" for a while.
The Beauty of Denali
Time passes so fast when you are having fun. But we can't stay forever in the park, and I managed to snap some photos of Denali, who finally decided to peak out of her clouds. She's tricky like that, she's large enough to create her own weather pattern, and seem to show herself on her own terms. Often times in the summertime people wait and wait to be able to see her, and finally miss their opportunity due to all those clouds she produces. Imagine flying all the way to Alaska and not seeing Denali. It happens more often than what you might think.
Are you going out into the mountains around this time of year?