We had one last full day in Denali. We we’re going to climb a peak. We took a shuttle to the Savage River rest stop, since that was the farthest we could go without paying for a ticket. There are few trails in Denali National Park, but one of them follows the Savage River for a mile or two, crosses a bridge, then returns on the other side. This area was perhaps crowded by Alaska standards, but it was much quieter than any trail in the Sierra.
We woke up to large pieces of ice on our tent. It was cold, but the rain had stopped. We packed up camp and hiked back across the tundra to the road. It was too early and cold to wait for a bus, so we walked the three or four miles West to the Eielson Visitor Center. Here we sat for an hour, warming our bones and resting up for the remainder of our hike. For a few moments the clouds broke, and we could see Denali (Mount McKinley). Above the snowy peaks sat clouds, and above the clouds stood the highest peak in North America. It was a sight to behold.
After years of dreaming, Jon and I finally bought plane tickets to Alaska. Our original plan was to hike into the Chugach Mountains outside of Anchorage, but a week before our trip we threw that plan out. Instead, we’d hike through the larger, more wild, more remote Denali National Park. Of course, getting from California to the backcountry of the Alaskan interior is a complicated logistical affair. One does not simply walk into the Alaska Range.