Autumn is here in Denali. The golds of aspens and willows spread through forests, across valleys, and over mountains. The air is crisp and cool enough for a jacket, scarf, and socks with my Chacos. I’ve started craving things like apple pie, chai tea, and homemade applesauce.
The last month and a half has been a whirlwind, and my time in Denali this season is quickly drawing to a close.
For our last weekend in the park, we headed to the Stony Creek area for a night of backpacking and a night in a backcountry ranger cabin.
Getting to the cabin in Kantishna (the historic mining district at the end of the park’s 92 mile road) was no easy feat. Though we were able to follow a gravel 4×4 road for most of the journey, the road crossed Moose Creek around 14 or 15 times. Without bridges.
Creek is too kind of a word.
Why don’t we know exactly how many crossings there are? Everyone seems to have a different number. Maybe it was the 40 degree temperatures combined with the frigid waters muddling our memories. Maybe some looked (and felt) like we were crossing the river twice, when really it should be counted as “one crossing”. Luckily, I only slipped and fell into the water one time, and it was on our way home the next day.
We made it to the small, two-room log cabin in the middle of the woods, and what a reward it was! Cabins like these are now used for dog sledding ranger patrols in the winter. Most were built as ranger cabins sometime in the early 20th century, but this one in particular was built as a private residence outside of the original park boundary in 1969 (the park was expanded to its full current size in 1980).
As for the last six weeks, here are some of the other notable things that I saw and did:
Saw my first glimpse of the incredible Aurora Borealis! It’s been a lifetime dream of mine to photograph the Northern Lights, and after chasing them to a cemetery north of the park and sleeping for a few hours in the back of a car to wait for them, they didn’t disappoint.
Adventured to the Denali Highway for some relaxed car camping with the gang.
Spent ten days with this lovely.
Made a dress from recyclable chip bags for a recycled art contest in the park (with the help of John and Maureen).
Witnessed incredible wildlife and beautiful views of the mountain.
Less than two weeks until departure! Stay tuned!