Tantilizing Talkeetna

Talkeetna Travel Blog

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A 10am Denali NP Ranger Walk from the Visitor's Center this morning was great fun!  The Ranger was peppy and informative and Lia enjoyed playing Assistant Ranger.  All she needed was a little Minnie-Me uniform! 

We learned all sorts of things about:

  • moose scraping their lower teeth up on a birch tree to eat the bark in winter
  • sunscreen (SPF 7 to 12) of the soft moss on the side of an Aspen
  • that Denali only has 8 specimens of trees over the entire 6 million acres
  • an aspen is one of the world's largest organisms because a grove is created by sending up shoots from just one tree - you can tell which trees on a hillside are part of a single specimen as each grove will all drop their leaves at the same time
  • Spring, Summer, and Fall comprise a total of 4 months in Denali!  Winter is 8 months of the year.  Wow!

We hiked out on our own to head on south- which made us sad because everyone on our hike were lots of fun.

We stopped in the Muir Learning Center on the way back and got to see a 5 minute video from a protected video camera right when a forest fire was sweeping through.  In 5 minutes it went from perfect to scorched -the power and speed of the fire were ferocious!

Did you know that there are some waxy pine cones that will only open when the temperature reaches greater than 130 degrees?  They release thousands of seeds when they open to repopulate the forest.  Fire is part of the forest cycle of life, but it was tough to watch!

The three-toed dinosaur fossil found in 2006 in Denali was there too!  http://www.nps.gov/dena/parknews/dinotracksmay08.htm

Near the RV, Lia found footprints of a moose (and its scat too) and insisted that we get pictures of the tracks.  Did you know that a moose that is threatened will kick and stomp you to death?  In fact, you should run zig-zag away from a moose and save your picture-taking for later!

Talkeetna is a wonderful town- very small, but bustling with activity this Saturday afternoon.  It is the expedition striking-out point for mountain climbers of Mt. McKinley!  They also have a lot of flights for the expeditions to get them to the base of the mountain, and flightseeing tours as well for about $190 per person and up. 

We grazed through town eating:  a homemade cinnamon roll, clam chowder, a slice of homemade apple pie, a chedder-and-bacon scone, a slice of Mountain High pizza, and a sugar cookie!  We bought some "Homestead Jam" from a lady who makes her own with berries gathered from State land (free).  She makes 12,000 jars of jam a year!   We took pictures, but skipped having a meal, at the Fairview Inn where President Harding was rumored to be poisoned in a seafood meal which led to his death.  We also bought some more historical novels from the town's bookstore.  So many good books, so little time...

People in town seemed very nice and unjaded from all the tourist traffic. I think because Talkeetna is off the main road, and because many people visiting here are really expedition-type, serious backcountry people, Talkeetna has a lot of energetic people here.  It feels a lot like a Zion National Park population.  http://www.frommers.com/destinations/talkeetna/1517010029.html

I was thinking about Ron Farb, our friend that we met in May at the B&B in Granbury, TX, who climbs mountains and funds cancer research:  http://www.cfc-foundation.org/site/PageServer?pagename=cfcf_who_main  He scaled Mt. McKinley in 2002 and is an amazing person. I encouraged Charles to finish reading his book, "Minus 148" about climbing Mt. McKinley since we're in that territory now.

Mt. McKinley was "out" for 5 hours yesterday and we missed it!  You cannot see it within the park unless you shuttle into Denali and we were a day too early on the shuttle.  Today was not a lucky day for viewing.  We have another chance tomorrow and if it *is* out, we'll drive 20 miles back up the Parks Hwy to see it, if we're that lucky.  Here's hoping!


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photo by: schochon