Saying goodbye to Denali National Park

Trip Start Jul 12, 2010
Trip End Sep 24, 2010

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Where I stayed
North Campground

Flag of United States  , Alaska
Thursday, August 5, 2010

   It had rained during the night but dried off by the time we got up. We didn't need to check out until 11 am so we ate breakfast, dressed for a short hike and took our bedding to the laundromat. There was a washer available that told us we had exactly 39 minutes to be back. We hiked first to the Wilderness Access Center to get our National Park Passport booklet stamped and then chose one of the trails from there that we had not yet hiked. We went only a short distance and it opened to the walking bridge over the Nenana River that we had tried to get to a few days ago but went the wrong direction and didn't find it! Hence, the picture on the lookout over the river and then we turned around in order to get back in time to put the bedding from the washer into the dryer. A fox crossed the trail just ahead of us and wasn't fast enough to get away before I got his picture. 
   Many accomplishments this morning in a short time----passport stamp, short hike, fox sighting, bedding washed. Now I just need to get a shower so I can use my blow dryer before 10:00 because the hours for running the generator are from 8-10 in the morning and 4-8 in the afternoon.
Mission accomplished!
   We emptied the holding tanks at the Park - the gray water which is the sink and shower water had filled up just that morning. Good to know that we can go for 5 days without needing hookups.
   We had decided we would stay a night at Denali State Park which is adjacent to the south of the National Park. We chose the North Campground because the viewing area for Mt. McKinley was right at the Park. From reading the information and talking to another couple that had been there we knew that the Byer Campground which was the main one was by a lake that had a hiking trail around it. For now, Wayne was intent on seeing the mountain if we could so the hiking trails would have to take a backseat. We were disappointed when we got to the Campground - it was like a glorified ND Rest Area - one big parking lot with some picnic tables and campfire rings along one edge, restrooms in a few places and a lookout viewing area facing the mountain. We took one of the pull-through sites which is convenient because we don't have to unhook the car at all. We had a full view through the front windows towards Mt. McKinley which was unfortunately no where to be seen because it was completely clouded over. We sat for awhile, we read for awhile, I took a nap reclined in the front seat (Parker had done that on a trip to WA last summer so I knew it could be done!), and then we finally decided we were content to stay there even if we didn't have a good chance of it clearing off.
   Vehicles had been coming and going all afternon, stopping to use the rest room and checking the viewpoint. Wayne talked to a guy from Switzerland for a bit one time and later saw 4-6 people walking around the motorhome and looking so went out to visit with them. They were from Italy and had never seen the inside of a motorhome so came in for a short tour and visit.
   We kept an eye on the view while I baked blueberry muffins with the last of our handpicked wild blueberries from the Park, made baked chicken and rice in the oven for dinner and coleslaw with some really tasty cabbage. After dinner we went for a walk through the tent camping loop where we saw some fresh moose tracks but no sign of the moose and through a plant identification loop where I got the picture of the very colorful mushrooms. We visited for awhile with a guy from Florida who was sitting by a campfire. He was traveling alone and staying in the back of his van. He had driven through ND on his journey up and said he enjoyed Teddy Roosevelt National Park and Medora and ended up staying there longer than he had planned. We like to hear that! 
   Wayne and I played a couple games of dice and a very long game of pinochle. A few times the clouds cleared some and it almost looked like the sun was going to shine through but it never did. We didn't even get a glimpse so we'll have to enjoy the pictures we see of the "big one."
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