Alaskan Altitude

Denali

Starting a blog has been something I have been wanting to do for a long time. I feel lucky to have the ability to travel from time to time and live in a place where some of the most beautiful views are at my doorstep. As of today, all unnecessary travel has stopped and life is changing. I am trying to be responsible so all outdoor exercise is reserved for off-peak early morning hours and evenings to avoid any crowds or people at all for that matter. For me, even grocery shopping only takes place 30 minutes before closing to avoid crowds and possible exposure. I still have a job to do. In fact, I still have three jobs to do so avoiding this thing seems to be the best option right now.


So here it goes, hopefully, each week I will be able to tell a story of a photo that I have taken and maybe give a few of you something to look forward to when we are out of the weeds of this thing.


The story of this photo is actually one of my favorite back-country camping experiences ever. If you haven’t recognized it by now its Mount McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. A 20,301-foot mountain that 70% of visitors to the area never get to see. When you do get to see it you become part of the 30% club. This week truly started rough. It was constantly raining, and when it wasn’t raining the mosquitos were so thick you actually had to purse your lips when breathing so they didn’t end up in your mouth. Bug spray seemed futile and head nets blocked the view and the reason we came to this place. We thought it would be a great idea to bring an ultra-light tent with no floor because of weight factors, but the first night realized that we could do almost nothing to keep the bugs from sneaking under and trying to open a vein while you slept. In the mornings we would wake up looking like we just had a paintball gunfight with welts and splattered blood all over our bodies.


After a couple of days of this, we decided to accept it and find happiness in some of the smaller things. Pulling a dry pair of socks out of a plastic bag in the morning, making hot camp coffee, cooking small meals of freeze-dried food, and of course animal watching.


If you have never experienced the exhilaration of watching a Brown bear (Grizzly) feed on a Caribou carcass after it chased off a small Wolf pack, I highly suggest it. Do this from a distance as both the Wolf pack and Grizzly could help end your trip fairly unceremoniously.


The last day is what really made it all worth it though. A 3 am wakeup call “LOOK! LOOK!” I poked my head out of the tent and saw it. Denali! I live in Colorado and get to see large mountains every day, but this was different a 20,301-foot mountain towering above everything. The weather held out all day and the view just kept getting more and more clear. It was so huge and commanding that it was almost a little scary to look at. We stared at it until it was time to leave back into Anchorage. The weather held out for the next few days until we left. In between looking for Orcas and Sea Lions in Seward you could still look out and see Denali over 240 miles away rising above all else. I know I will be back here and I am not sure what that adventure will hold. Alaska seems to be one of those places that either chases people away or calls to them constantly. I can say without a doubt this place calls to me daily.

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