Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Monday, May 25th Healy

Lakeview Inn offers rooms that have a view that one doesn't even want to look away.  There's even a little deck but the Mosquitos could carry you off here. Romance in the evening is lost with the buzzing of Mosquitos and their hovering in hordes, just waiting for their turn to land on your skin. Deet is a main ingredient here, pretty lotions are useless, and only the best bug begone candles are burnt. Some joke that the state bird is the mosquito. ( it's not though, the Willow Ptarmigan has that title).
       I went on a lovely jog, exploring the many trials Black Diamond has through the trees and brush. Up here near Denali is where the trees are especially scraggly. Old trees do not gain the girth and height here with the permafrost and super dry environment. there is still dense foliage for any animal to be comfortably concealed. I explored the trails and really just enjoyed cruising around. I'd slept in- so there was plenty of time for the ATV tours to scare away the morning animals. They recommend clapping occasionally when walking or hiking alone. Since clapping is awkward when running,  I was told to ( by the Iditarod runners who owned the B&B as well as another runner ) to talk to myself or sing a song. If the bears don't leave me alone hearing me sing and mumble to myself- at least the humans will be scared off by the crazy tuneless girl.

     We went on the covered wagon tour, since that is what Lydia will be doing up here this summer.  They have Belgian and Percheron draft horses here to pull the wagons in teams of two. S, her friend, drove the wagon while another employee gave a tour. It was interesting winding down the road -one mile of it has carpet underneath. There was a fellow who lived off the road that was owned by the railroad. He went along and picked up carpet that people and businesses had thrown out on the side of the road in order to put it down on the dirt road to his place. Having the carpet in place under the dirt and rocks helped maintain the road, and though it seems crazy, it was actually ingenious because now companies specialize in material to put down beneath gravel. After all his hard work he then patrolled with a loaded potato gun - ready to use on anyone trespassing, even though it was not a private road.
We arrived at the turn around point, a lodge where a lunch was set up for the group. The cook had grilled chicken, salmon, ribs and a variety of sides. It was one of the favorite meals on the trip. Then the cook made  peach cobbler for dessert! When on the road going from place to place, one only has one chance to find a good meal; Sometimes you miss it, and sometimes the only place available just isn't that good. So our delight in this meal was pretty high ranking.

   The backdrop to our wagon ride consisted of the mountains to one side, the coal mine, and a moraine. A moraine is where two glaciers are next to each other, carving their own separate valleys, and push together between them a large gravel mound. ( and by mound picture a very large and steep hill). this one is actually the largest gravel moraine in Alaska! After finding a full sized mammoth bones while excavating, they stopped stripping for gravel.
After a break we went to Denali national park and drove the 15 miles in that is open to public traffic. After that there is restricted public access. You can go farther with a permit or a pass, so good if you want to bring an RV or popup camper. Otherwise, one can hike in, or take one of the green park shuttle buses in and out of campgrounds farther into the park for tent camping or hiking.
We chose a brief mile long trail to go on that follows the Savage River.

On the drive down we saw a one moose, three bears, and three Caribou! The Caribou was most exciting because they were less then a hundred yards from the trail! They were laying down calmly, observing us with casual interest, perhaps gloating in their knowledge that we could not hunt anywhere near them. Of course, Lydia pulled out the Caribou jerky sticks we had bought in Anchorage and we laughed at the irony of our snacking in front of the creatures whom provided the snack..

The bridge allowed us to return on the other side of the river, because there was a snowy pile that had been obstructing the trail until very recently. This trail was just lovely to wander through. A glacier had carved out the valley we were walking in and had dispensed it's gravel and boulders against the cliff sides.
We ate in the Glitter Canyon, so nick named for its sparkling newness and gleam of a fancy shops. After meandering through the shops we headed back for an early evening that ended up being spent in, going up and down the three flights of stairs trying to convince the washing machines and driers to work. ( only had to switch the load once and run it 3x as long. Success!!)

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