Category Archives: Adventure Photographs

Denali, Alaska

Hello family and friends!

We hope this post finds you well and happy! For those suffering, we continue to keep you in our prayers. Please stay strong!

As mentioned in our last post, after leaving Fairbanks, we next traveled to Denali National Park and Preserve.  We had reservations for five days at the Denali Rainbow Village RV Park conveniently located just outside of the Park.  The sites were very tight and pricey but being near the park, groceries, and a few restaurants made it worth the cost. (i.e., One regular load of laundry was $5 which, to date, is the highest we have paid for doing our laundry anywhere in the US or Canada.)

50E6B68B-D96E-4CE3-9999-3619189FAE5DWe first hiked the Horseshoe Lake trail which is an easy/moderate Loop providing some brilliant photo opportunities. We saw birds, beavers, beaver lodges, and dams. Although we didn’t see any large wildlife we did see moose prints as we walked along the lake.

Debbie and Kenny – Horseshoe Lake Trail
Beaver Dam – Horseshoe Lake Trail
Susan and Mark – Horseshoe Lake Trail

Kenny, Susan, and Mark had their hearts set on flightseeing around Denali which is the tallest mountain peak in North America. I abstained simply because I had no desire to 🤮 all over my friends. Great decision on my part as the ride was a bit bumpy.

According to the pilot, only 10% of those flightseeing actually view Denali. They were in the 10%! It was a crystal clear day without cloud coverage. All were amazed, inspired, and awed by the beauty of Denali and the National Park. It was so clear that they were able to see the base camp from which about 20 mountaineers were starting their attempt to reach the top of Denali. For individuals wishing to take on the challenge, there is only a small window of time to complete the climb. The average expedition is three to four weeks. Last year approximately half of those who attempted the climb failed.

Denali in all her glory!
Susan and Mark – Taking in the views
Amazing Flightseeing!

The following day, we had signed up for a Tundra Tour which was a half day trip on the tundra following the same path that Christopher Johnson McCandle took when he went to live in the wilderness. You may recall the book written about him, “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer.   Our tour was just okay. Most of the time we were dodging branches that whipped back at us as the six wheeler plowed through some overgrowth on either side of the vehicle. For those visiting Denali, we suggest that you spend your money on a nice dinner or anything else. But if the trip takes you to Christopher McCandle’s Magic Bus, (river has to be dry or really low), that would be extremely cool.

The fabulous four posing upon return from Tundra Tour
Base Camp for Tundra Tour – served up coffee, blueberry muffins, fire, and inspiring views

One afternoon, we spent at the Denali Sled Dog Kennels. The Kennels hold three presentations per day and the park shuttle bus can pick you up at the Denali Visitors Center. Led by the Ranger, there was a presentation of the training of the dogs, their different personalities, how the dogs get harnessed, and a live presentation of the dogs pulling. It was free, fun, and entertaining. During the coldest winter months, the Rangers utilize the dog teams to patrol the Park as well as to bring equipment and supplies to scientists located in remote areas.

The highlight of our time in Denali was a full day bus trip to Eielson Visitor Center which is on the Green Transit Bus. It is $40 round trip and you bring your own lunch, snacks, and drinks. The driver stops anytime someone spots wildlife to allow the passengers to take pictures and periodically stops for use of the rest room facilities.

Although a rainy day, we took part in the Ranger Walk. We followed a small trail which was close to the Visitors Center and the Ranger spoke to us about wildlife, wildflowers, bushes, sights of wildlife activity, and even scat! The walk was interesting and informative.

Kenny and Debbie – Eielson Visitor Center
The Visitor Center provides panoramic views of Denali

The center also showed several films. The day we visited three different films were shown. All were professionally produced and focused on Park safety. They addressed how to prepare for chance encounters with wildlife in the park and backpacking safety in Denali. There is a high chance of encountering wildlife anywhere at any time in the Park and safety precautions are certainly needed.

Loved this sign so had to post it

On the day long trip we saw Moose, Caribou, Bear, Elk, and Dahl Sheep. If in Denali, we strongly suggest you take this tour. With the spectacular views and the abundance of wildlife sightings, this is a trip we will forever remember.

Next stop – Anchorage! Until next time, we raise our wine glasses and toast to you:

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. – Edward Abbey

Alaska or Bust!

Hello Friends and Family!

We are officially in Alaska and I’d like to share with you some parts of our journey to date from Cochrane, BC to Fairbanks, Alaska. So, here goes!!

On June 7, we reconnected with our travel buddies, Susan and Mark. In our hearts that is when our trip to Alaska began even though we left SC May 1.

Kenny and I and Susan and Mark (they are always the photo bombers)

From Cochrane we traveled to Banff, then onto Jasper. In Jasper, we hiked Maligne Canyon which is a limestone canyon with great photo opportunities. There are six bridges which allows one to view the canyon from different perspectives and waterfalls of various heights and sizes that will surprise you as you hike and explore. Visit http://www.malignecanyon.com

Some beautiful views from our hike.

At our campsite in Jasper, Kenny was “elk-jacked” when he was walking to the recycling area. When he finished dropping off recyclables, he turned around to find himself surrounded by ~15 elk (bulls, cows and calves). The bulls gave Kenny the “stink eye” making certain that Kenny wouldn’t interfere with the herd. All he wanted to do was to get around them safely. They are big animals and protective of their young. He had to walk a great distance to get around them.

The beautiful emerald Lake Louise

In Banff, we drove to Lake Louise which is a spectacular sight. The day was rather chilly and had off/on rain. Regardless, we got some good shots then had drinks and appetizers at Fairmont Chateau overlooking the emerald beauty, warm and dry.

Fairmont Chateau

During our travel days we saw wildlife almost every single day. While driving we ran into wildlife traffic jams as well as having our own private sightings as we traveled along the highway. Moose cows with their calf or sometimes calves! We also saw a Grizzly bear, elk, caribou and black bears.

Grizzly bear along the side of the highway. With two cubs but couldn’t capture them in the picture.

We next traveled to Grand Prairie, Alberta, Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson which is in British Columbia. Our next hotspot, pun intended, was Liard Hot Springs which is also in British Columbia. At our campsite there was a resident Bison that wandered into the camp both morning and early evenings to pose for us. Staying a good distance away was a must, but clearly he had no problem with the many campers snapping shots of him while he lazily enjoyed the nearby grasses.

Our posing Bison

Never having been to a hot spring before, I pictured myself soaking in the luxurious minerals with a glass of wine in hand and looking up at the twinkling stars overhead. Not so much. It is a natural hot spring which has cubbies for keeping your towels, clothes, etc. and sets of stairs so you can easily walk down into the springs. The water was hot in a variety of areas almost scalding. But once in, soaking was very relaxing. However, alcohol wasn’t allowed and we were there just before the Summer Solstice so a glass of wine and seeing stars was out of the question. Not exactly how I pictured it but nonetheless very enjoyable.

Enjoying the Liard HOT hot springs!

We overnighted at Teslin, Yukon, then went onto Whitehorse. The highlight in Whitehorse was a visit to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve which was such a gem! Five stars out of five! We were able to have a good hike while exploring the 700+ acre preserve with extremely large natural habitats. Visit http://www.yukonwildlife.ca.

Arctic Fox
Thin horned sheep – he liked being photographed
Kenny finally grew a pair!
Look at that rack!
One foot in Yukon, one foot in Alaska – Hurray, we have arrived!

On June 21, we crossed the border into Alaska. Finally in Alaska! We settled in Fairbanks just prior to the Summer Solstice which was unplanned. Highlights of Fairbanks were a 8 hour car trip to the Arctic Circle (where even Mark’s Tundra was challenged), a “tour” with Mary Shields (the first woman to complete the Iditarod) and the Fairbanks Summer Solstice Festival.

Though a rainy, muddy day we made it!!!
Note posted in Bureau of Land Management – on journey to Arctic Circle

At the Arctic Circle we received certificates to prove we were there. Thanks Mark and Susan for your remarkable driving skills! It was a long taxing day of rain and mud but we made it! The “tour” Tails of the Trail was really more like a visit with Mary Shields and her dogs as she unfolded her start in Alaska as a young woman, stories about her dog sledding adventures, and life in Alaska. Honestly, if ever in Alaska, sign up for her “tour”. She had us spellbound for the three hours we spent with her and her team. Kristina, her assistance, was as lovely as Mary. Visit http://www.maryshields.com for more information.

The sweetest of Mary’s sled dogs with Kenny. Aptly names Too-sweet!
Big Boy – one of Mary’s sled dogs
What an honor to have spent time with this amazing woman – truly an honor!

Our next adventure is Denali. Until then, we raise our wine glasses and toast to you:

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac