Husky House

Posts Tagged ‘Mt McKinley’

An Offer We Couldn’t Refuse

Several weeks ago a friend of ours (Kelvin) tempted us with a stateroom on the MV Misty Fjord for a five day cruise and kayak around the Misty Fjords National Monument in the Tongass National Forest by Ketchikan.  We talked with Kelvin on Friday, and on Saturday we arranged air travel to Ketchikan, kennel reservations for the boys, and hotel reservations in Ketchikan on either end of the cruise.  It was amazing that we could coordinate these arrangements on such short notice, while Kelvin pulled together the logistics ( kayaks, coordinating with the Captain, etc) on the Ketchikan end.  On Tuesday morning (Aug 2) we departed for Ketchikan to catch the cruise which was scheduled to depart the following day.  The only time we had been in Ketchikan was in June 1991, when our Alaska Marine Highway ferry docked for an hour or so.  The only things I remembered about Ketchikan were the rain, the totem pole park and having a drink in a bar somewhere.  Travel to Southeast Alaska is either by air or water, there are no roads connecting it to the rest of the state.  We have basically avoided traveling to the southeast because of the travel logistics and the rain.

Alaska Air is the only commercial carrier servicing Ketchikan, and there are two routings; one though Seattle and the other a milk run through Southeast Alaska.  We wanted to use miles and the only approved routing for a mileage award was the milk run.  So off we went: Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, Petersburg, Wrangell and finally Ketchikan; it was eight hours,  but flying in Alaska is beautiful. It is 40 minutes from Fairbanks to Anchorage (change planes), 123 minutes from Anchorage to Juneau, 25 minutes from Juneau to Petersburg, 10 minutes from Petersburg to Wrangell and 23 minutes from Wrangell to Ketchikan.  From Anchorage to Juneau we flew at 34,000 feet, Juneau to Petersburg at 20,000 feet, Petersburg to Wrangell at a lofty 5,000 feet and Wrangell to Ketchikan we flew at 18,00 feet.  We had incredible weather both ways, and the panorama was well worth the time, even though it was spent mostly on the ground turning the 737-400 at small airports.

We had an awesome trip with incredible weather and enjoyed Ketchikan, the cruise, kayaking and ziplining.  More on all this in upcoming blogs.

On final approach into Ketchikan

The Wrangell airport terminal

Taking off from Wrangell

The airport terminal at Petersburg

Taking off from Petersburg

Mts McKinley and Foraker

A Run in the Park

July 9th was a beautiful day  so we took the boys to Denali for a run.  These runs are special, something the whole family enjoys as opposed to the usual runs around home. It was sunny, warm and perfect; Utopian.  The boys enjoyed the attention from people who visited with them and photographed them, and of course, we enjoyed showing them off.

Magnificent Mt McKinley, a feast for the eyes

Me running with ET and Pelly

Bill running with Clem and Dawson

Bill with Clem, Pelly, Dawson and ET at the Mountain Vista trailhead

Bill showing off the boys for admiring fans

Hiking on Primrose Ridge & Mt Margaret (Denali Park)

Okay, time for another update and recreation of the past.  It’s been a bit chilly in Fairbanks this week, ranging 20-30 below downtown and about 10-15 below in the hills.  After my last ski attempt, I had all my cross country skis cleaned and waxed, and I’m waiting for it to warm (better glide) a bit before heading out on the trails.  It took about three nights in the thermal bag to salvage my skate skis.  So, I guess that being able to classical ski with skate skis is not a good thing!  In the meantime, we’re running with the boys, who love this cold weather!  So it is with warmer weather in mind that I look to the past and recreate hiking on Primrose Ridge in Denali Park.

I’ve had this hike in mind for several years, and this summer (2010) I finally located the “trailhead.”   Don’t ask park rangers for the trailhead, because this is not a maintained trail and therefore doesn’t have a sanctioned trailhead, just ask them where to access Primrose Ridge.  They seem squeamish about using “trailhead” for what is a backcountry trail.  Primrose Ridge and Mt Margaret are mutually inclusive.  As far as the trail, you can follow line of sight to the top, meander along animal footpaths or follow whatever path there may be.

The access to Primrose Ridge is about two miles west of the Savage River checkpoint, which means you must be creative about getting there, because private vehicles are restricted west of the Savage River Bridge during the summer season.  You can take one of the buses or you can park your vehicle at Savage River and either walk in or bike in to the access points, which, by the way, are not marked.  We chose to bike in from Savage River, which, despite being only two miles, is two miles uphill. A good access point is across from the rest stop (handicapped parking area), but since there is no formal trailhead, you can head up Primrose wherever the going looks good.  You may have to hike through some alders for a while, but will emerge to a wide open panorama.

Primrose Ridge is an easy hike, and the panorama is stunning, well worth any effort expended to view it.  It is an unobstructed, 380 degree rejuvenation.  I find myself not wanting to take my eyes off it, thinking that if I continue to soak it up it will be imprinted in my memory forever.  Even the best photo cannot do it justice, unless you can take a 360 degree photograph.  Aside from the view, other nice things about Primrose are that it is relatively accessible, easy, and doable as a day hike.  Oh, and Mt McKinley is visible from Primrose!  Be careful that the long daylight hours don’t lull you into a false sense of security, because if you are dependent on taking the last shuttle bus from Savage River, you need to come back to reality and check your watch.

You can hike Primrose as an out and back or you can follow your sense of direction east to a rocky outcrop where the “trail” descends to Savage River about a mile north of the Savage River Bridge.  We haven’t tried this yet, but it is on the radar.

Bill emerging from the alders at one of the access points to Primrose Ridge

Bill hiking down Primrose Ridge. Once you crest the ridge, it seems like you can hike forever!

Bill biking to Primrose from Savage River

A late afternoon shadow on Primrose

Enjoying the view from Primrose Ridge with the Park Road in the foreground

An evening view of Mt McKinley from Primrose Ridge. This is one reason you won't want to leave.

I met this caribou while hiking up Primrose Ridge, it was a surprise for both of us!

Bill hiking up Primrose enjoying the autumn vibrancy

For more photos of Primrose Ridge, visit the following galleries: Denali Autumn Tapestry and Primrose Ridge