My trip to Alaska was a solo journey with a self-created itinerary for the first week that I'll tell you more about later, and a second week devoted to a special visit with two park ranger friends from Tennessee who were working in Denali National Park and Preserve. Their invitation to visit them while they were in Denali became the catalyst for my entire journey. It had never occurred to me to take a trip to Alaska alone, even though this had been my dream destination. When I received the invitation, I didn't hesitate. I couldn't pass it up!
This is the routine of all visits to the wilderness area. Travel is by bus beyond mile fifteen of the park road, a road that extends 92 miles to its end, giving only partial access to the six million acres of land that make up the Denali park and preserve. The Toklat River is a three hour ride from the Wilderness Access Center. On September 1st this ride provided a spectacular panorama of fall colors in the boreal forest (above) and mountain tundra (below), including vast overlooks of glacial river valleys and the Alaska Mountain Range. Since the park roads are carved out of the natural gravel in the area, this can make for a muddy bus. But the rain itself only enriched the beauty of the fall transition underway as we drove deeper into the wilderness.
One of our driver-narrated stops along the way included Polychrome Overlook where we were encouraged to explore. The many-colored rocks in the area are hardened larva formed 100 million years ago during a period of mountain-forming activity. This activity is still in progress--earthquake tremors along the Denali fault are frequent. And the land continues to be shaped by glacial melt-water rivers that deposit silt and rock fragments into the valley.
Next: The Mountain
Links and Resources:
Click these links to view all my posts on Denali National Park and Preserve and to see my posts on my fall 2012 visit to Alaska
Denali National Park and Preserve
Wiki on Glaciers