Saturday, September 7, 2013

Alaska Omnibus Part 10

We left Fairbanks and it started snowing. Anyway after Fairbanks to Anchorage was suppose to be all white showy and icy. However this is the most traveled part of Alaska because these are the only two major cities here with major airliners making scheduled flights.
Road is now slippery and temperature has dropped to uncomfortable zone in this mid June. Fairbanks to Anchorage is about 600 kilometers and Fairbanks to Denali is about 200 kilometers. Before Denali road becomes very scenic and mountainous. Denali National park is 6 million acres situated in the middle of Alaska and highest peak of North America Mount McKinley is situated here. After crossing the river comes a small scenic Denali village and then comes the entrance of park. First we had a cup of coffee at the restaurant and then we went to reception and that was full of people and all campsites accessible by cars were full.

From Fairbanks to Anchorage, Denali Area
However cars can only go upto 15 mile post. Or one must take a park shuttle bus that makes a 15 hours round trips. It drops off hikers at their desired point and they can return to the road and wait for the next bus. One must carry sleeping bag, tent and all the food for the duration of stay.
We decided not to visit the park because already we were spending our time in the wilderness so we moved on. Luckily snow was not falling anymore but it was very cold. In the evening we looked at the watch and it was 11PM. It looked like evening because sky was heavy with fog.

From Fairbanks to Anchorage, Denali Area
We went to 2 motels but since it was nighttime so nobody opened the door for us. We saw a large river where water was gushing from the mountains with great roar. There was no other flat spot to erect the tent but bank of the river was flat icy. We left the car and hid it behind a cluster of trees and bushes, walked down to river and arranged our camp on the ice. Cooked out dinner and repacked cooking gear in the car. As we were going to sleep in the tent, in our sleeping bags; we noticed that ice was full of little crawling worms but it was too late and we were very tired and cold and wanted to sleep badly. Our eyes were tired because of looking at everything white.
When we woke up in the morning around 7AM, day was clear and it was sunrise.

From Fairbanks to Anchorage, Denali Area
A nasty surprise hit us as we opened out tent. We were in the water. Our ice shelf broke away by gushing water and it slipped in the river. Actually it was slowly moving in the shallow roaring muddy water. It was also not tilted. Somehow I jumped in the freezing water and made it to bank. Rajan packed up tent, sleeping bags in a rush and threw everything one by one to me and luckily I caught everything. As we were packing everything in our car, that ice shelf completely turned and took a roll in the chocolate water with a crashing sound.

From Fairbanks to Anchorage, Denali Area
When we went to sleep it was evening like because of heavy sky but then it cleared up and sun melted more ice from the glacier in front of us and flood took away our ice shelf. We were lucky and another lesson learned in Alaska.
We hit the road again in the breathtaking scenes. Sunlight lit all the valleys and glaciers and created mesmerizing views. On the way we stopped to make tea next to a clear water river. Bank of river was shining with many crystals. I gathered many colorful transparent stones and these turned out Ruby Crystal, Crystal quartz, Amethysts and more colors. In 2 hours we were in the suburbs of Anchorage.

Whales in the sea near Anchorage
After another huge river that was fed from a glacier on the mountain in our front, we stopped in a McDonald and had pancakes and apple-pies.
Now the city of Anchorage started. It is a bustling city in these latitudes. Oil wealth and tourism runs this city. We drove to the downtown and took a room in a hotel because we both wanted a hot water bath first. We were in bad shape after wading in the muddy icy glacier melt.
We had a hot bath, shaved and took our clothes to a Laundromat in the street. At 2PM we walked in the downtown and saw the sign of Anchorage Museum so we entered in it.

Anchorage in winter
It was a very nice museum. Then we walked in the streets of Anchorage and walked to the sea shore. A crowd was gathered there and we got curious. They all were watching up the whales in the water and we too waited. Whales again came out of water and begun jumping and tail slapping. Some were emitting a fountain of water when exhaling. They stayed there for another half hour and then went away.
We returned in the downtown area and walked and then at night (still sunlight).

We ate our supper in an Indian restaurant and then more walk and finally we went to our room to sleep on the real bed and in a real heated room.
We woke up in the morning and prepared our return. Loaded the car and said good bye to happy town of Anchorage. This time we took a different route to get to Alaska Highway. We bye passed Fairbanks. This was Glenn Highway it meets Alaska Highway at Tok Junction; after 550 kilometers. This highway passes through wilderness. At 2 PM prepared our camp in Nelchina Park.

Denali View
We were again in the wolf and bear territory. Badgers were everywhere. We erected our tent by a lake full of swans. A large glacier was visible from our camp in South-East. That was not more than 2 miles from us. After we had tea and cooked lunch, we decided to take a walk on the glacier.
As we were walking in that direction, we chatted with a young couple; they asked us to wait for us and they will also go to glacier with us. We took a path and walked one mile in the jungle and then path cleared up and there was a ranch where someone was raising reindeers.
undefined After this ranch we crossed the river that was coming from this glacier on a wooden foot bridge that went to reindeer grazing meadow ending at the edge of the glacier. A man approached us, he cautioned us about the glacier that several people died in the cervices of the glacier. He was relieved to know that we were four people so to rescue anyone who falls in the crevice.

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