18.05.2008 - 18.05.2008 13 °C
Our mode of travel for the first day of our land tour was by Alaska railroad however Princess have their own domed rail carriages along with Holland America. I’m starting to think that these 2 companies must have shares in Alaska when you see the bus loads of people they bring into these towns. We boarded our car and settled in for our couple of hour journey to Talkeetna. I was really excited to be stopping here as apparently it was the town that Northern Exposure ( TV series) was based on. Northern Exposure was filmed in Washington but I so wanted to see a little outback Alaskan town.
Our trip into Talkeetna was enjoyable and very relaxed arriving about lunchtime with the afternoon at our leisure to wander around. With magnificent weather we strolled around the entire 4 small blocks and enjoyed a pub meal at the only pub in town then the best homemade cookies from the “road house”.
We strolled over to the ranger’s station where we watched an amazing video about Mt Mc Kinley and the many people that travel from all over the world in an attempt to reach the summit. At 20 320 feet it is the highest mountain in North America but the extreme weather conditions make it one of the most difficult mountains to climb. There is much controversy over the name of this mountain, the local Alaskans call it Denali, a native word meaning the “high one” but it was named after a governor from one of the southern states that had never even visited the area.
We finally caught the shuttle up to the Princess McKinley Lodge which was about an hours drive from Talkeetna where we were to spend the night. Fortunately we had been able to see the mountain nearly all day with such perfect conditions and some people we had spoken to in our group that had done the scenic flights over the mountain said they saw climbers on the mountain only about 100metres from the summit. Our weather has been just amazing, so much better than we ever imagined. Apparently, the mountain is usually covered in cloud and the majority of people coming out here are lucky to get a glimpse so we considered ourselves very lucky.
Mc Kinley Princess Lodge was very impressive!
Beautiful decks overlooking the valley and further onto the mountains, it was in the middle of the wilderness. There were a number of choices of places to eat but we decided to attend a ranger talk on wolves before dinner and let the rush for dinner disappear.
The ranger to give the talk was a retired mental health nurse, become ranger in the national parks of Denali and over the last 3 years has tracked and studied 3 of the wolf packs in the area. What a fascinating man to listen to. At first we thought he was a bit eccentric but after listening to him and discovering his passion we understood how incredibly knowledgable and involved this man was with the incredible work he does every year. We found it fascinating to listen to his stories about how the pack of wolves live together, communicate and relate with each other. He had the most amazing photographs of new pups in their den and the pack playing in the snow.
Following the talk the kids were awarded their Ranger badges for Mt Mckinley in front of the entire theatre - very special, then we went for dinner in the cafe, overlooking the mountains.
After a magic sunset at about 11.45pm, we settled down again ready for our adventure into Denali the following day.