Friday, July 5th-GREAT News!

Yesterday we did a short hike inside the park but not any monumental ones. We parked near the Park Headquarters and saw this:

When we were in Fairbanks a couple of weeks ago, I posted a pic of electric plugs in the Wally World parking lot. This pic shows another near the park HQ. maybe half of the cars and trucks we see have electric plugs sticking out of the grill. My guess is that people who have to park their vehicles outside in the winter plug an engine heater in to electricity so the vehicle will start when it’s 30-40 below zero!

The great news is that Sara, Claire, and Ryan are coming to Alaska to spend a week with us. They are coming to Anchorage in about 2.5 weeks. We will pick them up at the Anchorage airport, show them around Anchorage for a few days and then come back to Denali for a few days. We may be bumpin’ into each other in the camper with five of us but we’ve done it before with six. Caleb can’t make this trip because of work but we appreciate him using so many miles so Sara, Claire, and Ryan can come. It should be great fun! We can’t wait to see ‘em!

We did a lot of hiking on the trails today. We hiked 3.5 miles on a 2.4 mile trail! Well, that deserves some explanation, doesn’t it? Okay, we left the Visitor Center to hike the 2.4 miles of the Rock Creek Trail. We got about a half mile in and OOPS! I left my bear spray sitting on a bench near the VC. We hike the half mile BACK to the VC to ask a Ranger about lost and found. Surprisingly, someone had found it where Dummy Me left it and my faith in humanity has been restored! So, after putting my bear spray back on my belt, we hike BACK on the same Rock Creek Trail, continue to its end and return on the 1.8 mile Roadside Trail. Diana and I walked almost 8 miles today but she has 21,000 steps while I wimped out with only 18,300!

Today marks a week since we first got to Denali but staying so long has been worth it-we got our first full view of the 20,310 foot high monster today! We have gotten 3-4 partial views over the past few days but the view today has been extraordinary! Before you look at the pictures below, remember than we’re about 50 miles away from Denali and these pics were taken with my iPhone, not a professional camera:
You have to look at these pics VERY carefully to even see the shape of Denali since it’s all ice and snow covered!

There are a number of things about this mountain that make it magnificent. The first is its sheer size of 20,310 feet above sea level. It sits in a valley that is only about 2,000 feet elevation so a full 18,000 feet of it are visible. Compare that to the 14ers in CO and then you have to remember that Denver sits at slightly over a mile high. This means that the CO Rocky Mountains are visible about 9,000 feet which is about half of Denali. I love CO and it’s beautiful but Denali is in a class by itself! Besides the almost unbelievable height of the mountain is the sheer size of the park. DNP is over six million acres. I can’t process that size but that converts to 9,446 square MILES! That means that DNP is larger than the Lower 48 state of New Hampshire! Second is that it’s the crown jewel of this national park. We’ve talked about what is so beautiful about Denali NP but we’ve reached different conclusions. Is it the vast, wild country that comprises the park or is it the mountain? I think each person visiting the park has to form their own opinion.

As we head South down to Anchorage tomorrow, we hope to get a couple of better, closer photographs. If we do, I'll post some of them tomorrow night


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