Saturday, February 9, 2019

Denali National Park (and Airplanes!)

This morning, we left our Airbnb in North Pole, Alaska to make the journey back to Anchorage. We made several stops along the way to take pictures at a few of the many overlooks scattered down the George Parks Highway, arriving at the Denali National Park winter visitor center around 1:00 PM.

Selfies with Katy
Mountaintop vista
After we ate lunch in the adjoining indoor picnic area, we checked out ice grippers for our boots and headed down the Horseshoe Lake trail, which had been suggested to us by one of the rangers. There were beautiful views all around us of the lake, surrounding forest, and adjoining river.

Horseshoe Lake beaver dam
Adam contemplates life
This hike gave us another candidate for "Times We Almost Died in Alaska." On the way out, I was hiking in the back as the sweeper, as is custom, right behind Adam. Suddenly, he bent over to pick something up. Our rental car key. I looked ahead of us, and Tanner had taken off his jacket (which the key was in the pocket of) to wrap around his waist as he was warming up. Adam grinned, put a finger to his lips, and we continued hiking.

When we got back to the car, Tanner began patting his pockets for the key. Adam took it a step further and set off the alarm. We let the panic build for a minute or two before revealing we had picked up the key a mile or so back. Had we missed the keys, that could have been bad.

On the way back to Anchorage, we stopped at the Palmer Municipal Airport to visit my friend Dillon, who works as an airplane mechanic for Ultima Thule Outfitters. Once we found his hanger (an adventure in and of itself) we made and ate dinner with him (soup and grilled cheese), and he told us a little bit about his job. After dinner, he showed us the planes and described how they're used and the maintenance they have to perform on them. I really enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with him and share some fellowship with him and my other friends on the trip.

Added to my list for potential trip favorites
We finally arrived at our Airbnb for the next two evenings around midnight. This particular house is set on a private airstrip, and is surrounded by houses that can really best be described as mansions. I particularly approve of the large front windows facing the airstrip here.

Cumulative Moose Count: 23 (one morning moose and one highway moose)
Cumulative Bear Count: 0
Moose Involved Incidents: 0

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