Since I was down by Denali, I figured I might as well get inside The Park, and hike around a bit. The visitors center was absolutely packed with people from all points of the globe. I was claustrophobic within minutes. I found a sympathetic ranger who handed me a map and suggested the Healy Overlook Trail as a means to quickly get away from the mass of humanity. I doubt I was in the center for more than five minutes, before I was back outside looking for the route in the light rain.
By the time I passed the railroad depot, I was alone in the mist. It was almost eerie after so many people cramped into the small space just a few hundred yards away.
It was a nice, roughly 4.5 mile hike, and I met up with several other hikers, but I’m sure the rain helped to keep the numbers manageable. I did startle a family who were singing “The Bear Song”: “Hey Bear! Hey Bear! Stay Away Bear!”. Words to that effect, sung to a sort of country twang. In my defense, I was wearing a yellow rain jacket, so I wasn’t exactly hiding, and I saw them coming, but I still managed to make them jump out of their slickers when I said, “Hey”, as we met around a corner on the trail. When they caught their breath, I asked if they had actually seen a bear. They hadn’t. Any wildlife at all? None. I went on feeling rather amused.
I spotted several moose, and flushed a group of ptarmigan as I moved up higher. The hike up to the overview is a climb of 1700 feet in elevation, and I’m sure on a nice day the view would be wonderful. But it was raining the entire time I was near The Park, and the clouds were moving low through the gaps and valleys. Still, it was a much needed escape for a couple of hours.
I did a couple of more hikes afterwards, with minimal elevation gain, mainly just to keep the legs moving before I made the drive back to Squarebanks.
Well short of the town of Nenana, on the drive back, the rain had stopped and I was reaching for the sunglasses on the dashboard.
Life in Alaska.