Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hiking the Park Road: 46 Miles in Autumn

Camper Bus: 3:30pm departure from the Visitor Center

The 35 mile hike turned into a 46 mile hike, because I love the miles! We had planned to start at Highway Pass, but the park was so beautiful and we wanted to get nearer to Mount Denali, so we stayed on the bus until Stoney Pass. 

It was just a few miles between Stoney Pass and Highway Pass and there was still light at 7pm, when we got out that way, so we walked on. That was how it went for two days, continued, steady pace and lots of foods. I love hiking and I love food, the combo is fantastic. 
At present, I'm weary from a couple of late nights and early mornings, and the end of the season busyness. We are nearing shutdown and a few employees depart each day, bound for their next adventures and employment and school. It's tough physically - the cleaning and laundry, and it's tough emotionally, saying goodbye to so many kind and hard workers. 
Today my mom departs Denali. It's been a gift having her here. We've never gotten to spend this much adult time together. Now I will go and drive her to the Grande Denali Lodge, so that she can finish her paperwork, and then I will drive her to the train station where she will board the Alaska Railroad bound for Anchorage. 
Summer is gone, I am now 35 and it was a fantastic hike. I'm grateful for it all. 

Site of our first night Campsite
Toklat River behind us

East Fork braided river

Sable Pass on our second day of walking

Teklanika River

A Birthday Feast provided by my mom, who came to meet us on the bus

Walking together east of Teklanika

Sanctuary River Campground, mile 22 and almost to the finish.

Looking down on Savage River as we near completion

At the Finish - Savage River Bridge. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A final walk in the Park for my 35th Birthday

Today is Thursday, the day of "Swinging Doors" radio show on KEXP in Seattle, Washington. It's also the day before my 35th birthday and thus occasion for us to take our day off from working for Grande Denali, LLC and take a final journey into Denali National Park. Reed and I will be taking the afternoon camper bus into mile ~58 at Highway Pass, where we'll sleep tonight and then begin walking back towards the park entrance. Our goal is to walk 35 miles in two days, and end our walk at about mile 23, which is near the Sanctuary River area.
It's been another full summer. Alaska summers, for us, have brimmed over with activity, much like the daylight hours here, which are unending in June and July. It's been a challenging summer in many ways and also a rewarding one. One of the biggest gifts that Reed and I have enjoyed has been having my mom, Sue Wiley, here to work alongside of us at our hotels. This is the most time, as adults, that we've ever gotten to spend together. Sue will be joining us at some point on our hike, just because a broken hip can't stop her!
I give thanks for the decades and years that I have gotten to live in the world, eating and drinking it up. My life has been full of many blessings, most of all my dear husband, Reed. At 21 and 22, I didn't know if I would be able to stay alive. I couldn't imagine my life in the future. I give thanks that here I am, and this has been my life thus far.