Hike into Denali and Whitewater Rafting

Denali National Park Travel Blog

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On the hike down, I got some soar feet . . . maybe

                We all had a great day today!  Brenda and I slept in the latest, till about 5:30am, some quick breakfast with bagels then it was off to explore Denali.  We went for about a 1.5 mile hike just inside the park down to Horseshoe Lake.  The elevation drops about 200 feet on the hike but a pretty good hike if you have a group of kids.  Our oldest had no problem.  A few breaks on the climb out but he really enjoyed it, so it can easily be a hike for a wide range of people.

    The hike takes you through a Black Spruce Forest with moss covering the forest floor.  Trees were about 30-40 feet tall and as we were told they were probably about 100-150 years old.

Beaver Dam . . . Good Work Beavers.
  Of course jetting off of the main trail were narrow paths that could take you out to different lookouts, or would just wind through the trees before coming back to the main trail and I could not help myself but to run through those smaller trails and try and come out ahead of the group. 

    Once reaching the lake we found some moose tracks and a bear track right behind it, although probably only a black bear.  We were too late to catch them because the tracks were quit fresh.  So we missed out on the big animals but there was quite an impressive beaver dam holding back quite a bit of water.  The whole hike took us about one hour.

   As we returned to the car we drove into the park a little bit further hoping to catch that big wildlife, but you can only drive 15 miles into the park on one road so we were limited.

Down by Horseshoe Lake
  But we did get a good view of Mount McKinley from about 75 miles away and visibility of the North Peak.  However as time continued to tick by we had to get back to our cabin for a quick lunch and then rafting down the Nenana River.    Our guide was actually a fellow Wisconsinite so we were in good company; the only downside is with all the great scenery and geography I wish we had someone who was more geologically literate because the rock formations and make up of those rocks were very cool.  You could see evidence of volcanic rock, plate tectonics, past erosion, etc. 

 

     The Nenana River is glacial fed, so the temperature is about 360 F, and carrying a lot of glacial silt preventing much fish from being able to survive in the water.

Coming out of some rapids on the second half
  This also means we get wet suits to keep us dry and hopefully warm.  We would take the combination trip which was 12 miles down the Nenana river, rather calm, some class I and II rapids, then Grandpa would get out and we would continue down another 12 miles through the Nenana Canyon for some class III rapids (not quite class IV, but with more water it could happen).   Brenda and I did get the front on the second half and I absolutely loved it.  Our very first mile into the canyon we hit a large patch of rapids and we were immediately engulfed with freezing cold water, and yes some of the water was consumed.  But it was excellent.  The boat did get turned around so we were able to see the back half get swallowed up by the waves.  We ended in Healy where we caught a bus back to the cabins and took a load off.

     I was a little worried about this trip because rafting was my idea and everybody on the trip was a little nervous, especially Grandpa who does not know how to swim.  But I got good reviews from everyone, they were all glad we did it and would do it again.

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On the hike down, I got some soar …
On the hike down, I got some soar…
Beaver Dam . . . Good Work Beavers.
Beaver Dam . . . Good Work Beavers.
Down by Horseshoe Lake
Down by Horseshoe Lake
Coming out of some rapids on the s…
Coming out of some rapids on the …
Judy, hiking through the woods
Judy, hiking through the woods
View of the Alaska Railroad train …
View of the Alaska Railroad train…
I hate corrupted photos.  This hap…
I hate corrupted photos. This ha…
Looking down on the lake
Looking down on the lake
Mt. McKinly 75 miles away
Mt. McKinly 75 miles away
Making it through the calmer upper…
Making it through the calmer uppe…
Denali National Park
photo by: Vikram