Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fall Hike up Mount Healy

This has been a summer full of work and worrying. My job as employee housing manager has proven emotionally draining and difficult. Even so, Reed & I have gotten out to enjoy the landscape on a regular basis. We've had our days off together almost all summer, which has meant that we've had two days per week with which to recuperate and explore. In terms of weather, summer has come and gone. It is now rainy fall here in Denali. The temperatures remain well above freezing here in the canyon, but up high, there is new snow and howling winds. I know firsthand how cold it is up on the peaks because yesterday we climbed one. Mount Healy overlook trail departs from the entrance area of Denali Park.

 After reaching the Overlook, we continued up, on the "un-maintained trail." There isn't much brush up on the ridges, so an un-maintained trail was just fine, until we came to the outcroppings, which were scary to go around. I have grown increasingly afraid of heights over the years, even as my love for being up high, especially on ridges, has grown. 

It took us about four hours to reach the top. Along the way, we passed gorgeous patches of plants in gorgeous displays of color. A bonus was finding blueberries and lingon berries along the way. The higher peaks that are visible from the Denali Bluffs came into closer view, as we climbed. We needed to keep moving in order to stay warm. It's a challenge to keep one's body temperature regulated when balancing the massive sweatiness that comes from exertion with the chilling effects of wind and falling temperatures 

At last, we reached the top. We were in a cloud, so we didn't get any sweeping views from having reached the top. I did get a sense of satisfaction, though, and I insisted on climbing to the top of the very highest part, just on principle. At the top,  the temperature was just above freezing. We quickly changed into dry shirts, added back our layers on top and began our descent with cold pains in our hands and forearms. 


As we descended, the temperature around us and inside of us rose. The cold pains in my hands left me and the panic in my chest at being in a cloud left as we began to have visibility again.


I do so love the look of a trail extending out before me on a mountain ridge! It was a sweet descent, as our tired bodies carried us to the warmer climate of the canyon floor.

Here's our final excellent view, from back at the Mount Healy Overlook. 

Upon our return to the employee dining room at the Grande Denali, we remembered that we would be celebrating 'Christmas in Denali' with a Bulgarian Christmas dinner. The luscious meal was a delightful way to be rewarded after a tough hike. 


  1. Thanks for this post. Around here Mt. Healy has a lot of significance...

    My Daddy and I hiked to Mt. Healy in the summer of 1969. (I was 16.) His MS was just beginning to affect him , so he stopped half way and told me to continue without him. He told me later that he cried when I peeked over the summit and waved to him.

    A few years ago I took some of his ashes and scattered them on the summit.

    I think he would have enjoyed that...

    1. What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing. Do you have a photo from your hike years ago?

  2. Aw. Thanks for asking. Got me up into the attic! Found some from the 'scatter' trip, too.

  3. What great photos. It's cool to see how empty of buildings the canyon was in 1969.