Husky House

Posts Tagged ‘skiing Riley Creek’

Skiing in Denali Park

I have been dreaming about Denali Park ever since our end of season visit there for the Road Lottery drive-in September 19th.  On Friday everything fell into place (nice weather, daylight, time) and we left the boys at Muttessori, threw the backcountry skis and a bunch of junk food in the Jeep and made our merry way to the Park.  The roads in the hills by our house still wear an inch of ice from the Thanksgiving week icepocalypse, and we were a bit concerned about the highway, but it was clear and dry once we were several miles out of Fairbanks.  It was a picture perfect day:  sunny, clear, cloudless, blue sky and 30 degrees in the Park!  Mt McKinley was basking in the sunshine.

The easy access to the Riley Creek was blocked off by a construction storage yard, so we had to work our way through the woods down a narrow, winding, snowshoe trail.  A snowshoe can meander through the woods on a lot tighter trail than can 6 foot long skis, so after a while, I took off my skis and walked.  The snow was punchy and I kept sinking up to my knees or higher.  For that reason, Bill kept his skis on, carefully and slowly negotiating the trail.  He is more patient than I.  The snow on Riley Creek was deep, and the only trail was at least a foot deep and also originally made by snowshoes, and used by skiers. The warmest kick wax I have is VR55, just short of sticky klister, and it was somewhat effective in the shade (in the beginning), but slippery in the sun.  I didn’t take the time to put a binder on the skis, and that would have helped preserve the wax, but nothing was going to cut into my time in the sun in the Park.  Despite being a lot more challenging than we had anticipated, we enjoyed the skiing and savored being in the Park in mid March.  I had skied Riley Creek by myself last March, and it was perfect in every way.  There was only one ski track going up the creek and it was easy to follow, allowing me to easily ski farther up Riley Creek than we did Friday, but any day in the Park is a good day!  Rather than retrace the snowshoe trail back to the Jeep, we skied back to the train station and walked about a mile down the Park Road to the Jeep.

The Denali Park Spring Road Opening is underway, and  the countdown to opening the road to private vehicles has begun!  Oh how I would love to ride along in one of the dozers!  In about a month we will be able to drive as far as Teklanika, until the tourist season begins around Memorial Day weekend and the Park Road is restricted beyond savage River.

Snow blowing across the Parks Highway as we passed through Healy on the way to Denali

Bill skiing up Riley Creek

Bill climbing out of a snow hole on Riley Creek

Me taking a photo on Riley Creek

This was a long slippery climb, next time I'll use the binder before waxing!

There are more photos in my gallery.