Driving into Denali.

When your friends win the lottery and call you, make sure you answer the phone.screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-9-06-58-amscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-9-07-10-amscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-9-07-26-amscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-9-07-57-amscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-9-08-24-amscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-9-08-32-amscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-9-09-06-amscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-9-08-53-amThere are only 4 days that anyone can drive into Denali, if they win the lottery. We scored some of the best weather I have ever seen up there.

Just Another Creek.

We headed up the Parks Highway (names for George Parks, not Denali National Park, even though that is the direction it heads) to follow little blue lines that we had seen on Google Maps. We found a place where the power lines cross the creek. This is usually a good spot to access the water.

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Many other places I have fished have lots of private property preventing a person from accessing the water. Here, you really just can’t get to the water. The bushes are too thick, the mud is too deep, and there are no trails. It is perfect. When you do get to the water, you might be on a cliff too high to fish properly. The other side of the river always seems to look better than wherever I am standing.

Plus, there is the added bonus that I am always looking over my shoulder for wildlife. Maybe something to see that is cool, maybe making sure that nothing is going to attack me. Either way, I feel like I am always looking out for something. We found a piece of water that looked like it would have some fish. The water was higher than we wanted though. It was muddy. There were hardly any bugs (except the mosquitoes). There had to be fish here.

It was too early in the season for anything salmon related. No eggs yet. No flesh unless it was left over from last year. These are meat eating trout. It was time to swing some streamers. The bigger and uglier the better.Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 2.36.34 AMSomehow, we fooled them again. Total solitude. Hungry fish. The fear of being attacked by wildlife overcome. Mosquitoes swatted. Headed home, we felt accomplished. Rugged. Alaskan like. Bear spray safely in the car unused, we stopped by Starbucks for our usual chai lattes. We aren’t that rugged.Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 2.36.56 AMAs the fishing season starts to heat up, my heart races more and more before each adventure starts. Every time that we step outside, I am amazed at what we see.

Denali National Park.

We headed into Denali National Park with Amanda’s parents while they were visiting. On our way, we stopped in the town village of Talkeetna. It is a fantastic place to stop. They have every adventure necessary. Want to go fishing, someone there can arrange that. Too easy? Take a helicopter tour of Denali, they do that here as well. We just stopped at a cool little coffee shop.Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.00.39 AMWe were at the tail end of the season, so some things were closed, and the traffic was pretty minimal. The weather was not too bad, but with lots of clouds, actually seeing the mountain did not seem like a realistic thing that was going to occur. While that is always a goal of people that are visiting the area, we have been lucky to see it on clear days while fishing nearby. There is still so much to see and do that the actual mountain might be better off imagined. Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.00.27 AMWe boarded our bus early the next day and settled in for what would be an 11 hour bus tour. If you travel into the park in your own car, you can only drive in the first 15 miles. The buses were great. We didn’t have to drive, we could eat, and the bus driver was knowledgeable and entertaining. This is a great way to see the park and the inhabitants.Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.13.46 AMThe weather that we had experienced in Talkeetna was worse/better/bigger/different the next day. Everything is larger and more extreme in Alaska. The weather is no exception. Where there was rain the day before it was heavily snowing on us in the park. It was very beautiful to see a lot of the area covered in snow. The biggest concern was that the roads would be impossible to use in some spots. We were going on the last day of the season.

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We got to Savage River and were told that it might be the end of the line for us. We were 15 miles into an 85 mile trip. We waited here, saw a few bears, made a snowman, and were told to get back on the bus, we were continuing forward.Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.01.30 AMThe wildlife is used to the buses. They know that the buses are not a threat. We were able to see animals acting very naturally.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.28.56 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.28.24 AMIt was the people that were funny to watch. As soon as someone spotted an animal, the bus would stop and try to get us into a good viewing position. Everyone ran to the side where the animal would be. The sound of fake shutters clicking was entertaining and the animals didn’t seem to mind. Mostly everyone was respectful and kept their arms and hands inside. Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.27.22 AMEvery stop was amazing. The roads were cleared and we were told that we would make it all the way to the Wonder Lake Campground. Every time we got out of the bus, we were blown away. Mostly with the views, but sometimes by the wind.Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.27.02 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.38.45 AMScreen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.39.07 AMThat was our visit to Denali National Park. It was outstanding and everyone visiting Alaska should try to get out there to experience it. Thanks for reading.