Sunday, September 6, 2015

Alaska Railroad: Denali to Talkeetna

Snow had blanketed the peaks a few days before our train ride from Denali to Talkeetna. And then the sun had come out, highlighting the brilliant landscape. The ride was stunning with its sweeping views of the Alaska and Talkeetna Ranges of Mountains. While it wasn't technically an adventure by foot, it certainly felt closer to the landscape and more historic than the times that we've driven from Denali to Talkeetna. One of the best parts of having a seasonal job in or near a national park is getting to do the activities that highlight the area. We've gotten to do a large number of spectacular activities this summer. This train trip was one of them, a delightful way to see and smell and experience the area and one of the early forms of transportation that brought people to Denali. 

We departed the Denali Bluffs Hotel on the 11:30am shuttle to the train station. From there, we picked up our tickets at the station and boarded the 12:20 southbound train. We rode for about 4 hours, with no stops, but a few slow downs in order to allow other trains to pass and for us passengers to better see and photograph particular points of interest. 

We overnighted in Talkeetna, which allowed us to do a bit of walking on the trails near the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and around the town the following morning. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse. We squeezed in a short visit to the Ranger's Station to watch their short documentary about climbing Denali. It helped me better understand what it is like to climb a major mountain like Denali. It solidified my stance on preferring hiking to climbing. The climb doesn't look like any fun to me; it's all on snow and requires a tremendous amount of specialized gear. I don't like either of those things - walking on snow or specialized gear.  

It was a quick trip, we were back within 28 hours of our departure. It was a welcome respite from work and great to get away one final time before my work schedule gets too full to allow for such time away. I'm grateful to have been here in Denali this summer. 

Lake near Broad Pass, the highest point on the Alaska Rail Road

The morning after staying at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge

The strong engine that pulled us. 

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