Hiking Without Trails? A Geezerheiken Dilemma!

We quickly learned that you don’t just go hiking in Denali National Park.  Once you are inside the entrance area, except at Eilson Visitor Center at mm 62 and Wonder Lake, almost the end of the road, there are no trails!  WHAT?  No trails?  How are the geezerheikens supposed to find their way?  Get on the bus and get off whenever it looks like hiking?Denali MM47

 

MM 47 is just past Polychrome Pass and the scenery is spectacular.  We decided to follow this creek and see where it would take us … figuring #1, we could always retrace our steps so we wouldn’t get lost and #2, we could theoretically SEE any bears before they saw us and skedaddle back where we came from.  And that’s almost the way it worked out….IMG_9752_2

 

Except that this creek ran down into another creek … bigger creek and despite hiking up and down the creek, none of us could figure out how to get across without getting really wet.  We tried throwing stones in the water to create a rock bridge, to no avail.  David & Joe had waterproof hiking boots, but the water was too deep for even hi-top hiking boots.  Bummer!  Next time we go hiking in Alaska, we’ll bring rubber ducky boots.  So we turned back to hike along the road for a bit.   Since it’s a dirt road, it still felt rather remote.

Denali Mt McK

 

And the view was hard to beat … Mt McKinley without a cloud in sight today!  Was it our lucky day or what?  We decided to catch the next bus and hike some of the trails around the Eilsen Visitor Center.  Denali J&N hiking

Mt McK

Hiking down down down, we were treated to a spot to sit and relax just above the stream … when we spotted a grizzly bear meandering the far slope, enjoying his day and gulping berries by the mouthful.  We watched, ate our lunches and relaxed.  What a perfect spot!  The tundra was starting to turn colors of fall and added to the beauty of the scene.

See the grizzly?  He wasn't close enough to make us feel threatened while we devoured our turkey sandwiches.

See the grizzly? He wasn’t close enough to make us feel threatened while we devoured our turkey sandwiches.

The view the other way...

The view the other way…

Closer view of

Closer view of “our” grizzly

After enjoying the relaxing, it was time to hike back up the hill and decide what to do next.  We caught another bus back to Teklanika but on the way, we saw another grizzly (no photo, too many people on the bus), some big caribou and even a coyote trotting along the road like he owned it.  Coyote

 

Caribou

Returning to base camp Teklanika, we wandered the river behind our campsite, even wading in the icy water just because we could.Alpenglow Teklanika

 

So as the alpenglow begins, the geezerheikers retire to the campfire and a bit of wine to toast the day.

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