After welcoming everyone at the airport with a hearty lunch and rollicking games of ninja, we were all super excited to start our first backcountry section. The next day, we headed north into the mountains where we would trek for three days into the stunning wilderness of Denali State Park.
While the switchbacks were steep on the trail, Tookie kept moral high by leading us in uplifting sing-alongs. Completing the hike, which was over six miles long, was a huge accomplishment, and left us ravenously hungry. Luckily, Conrad had taken immediately to our backcountry stoves, and was boiling water taken from our pristine alpine lake in no time. Cook crew, led by accomplished Head Chef Michela, whipped up Pad Thai complete garnished with scallions and parsley. Embracing his time in the backcountry, Cole drank the extra chicken juice to spare one of us from having to pack it out.
A refreshing night of sleep left us energized and ready for our day hike across the tundra next morning. Rain, our first Leader of the Day, set new standards for backcountry personal hygiene as we traversed the ridge line on a well developed trail. We stopped for a snack along the shore of an exquisite lake, where Mitchell was inspired to climb a small knoll that rose above us. After discussing it as a group, we decided to ascend. Roy’s highlight was the view that awaited us at the summit. Stretching out before us in every direction was an endless green tundra accented by a filigree of delicate blue lakes. In the distance, the soaring snow capped peaks of the Alaska range beckoned us. We basked in the sun and marveled at the majesty of nature. On the way back to base camp, we navigated our way off-trail cross country led by Tomas. Once back at camp, we dined on pesto pasta under the midnight sun.
Our next adventure was a bus tour which took us deeper into the wilderness surrounding North America’s tallest peak – Mount Denali, otherwise known as Mount McKinley. The tour was Reid’s highlight thus far. He enjoyed the day of relaxation and basked in the glory of succeeding in his first backpacking experience. Austin spotted a massive bull moose through the willows, and we stopped to get a closer look. Our experience was further enhanced through interpretive presentations by a naturalist and a native Alaskan woman. Having experienced the raw majesty of the Alaskan interior on our trek, and increased our knowledge about and appreciation for the region on our tour, we headed south to Anchorage to prepare for the next leg of our journey. Next stop: sea kayaking in the incredible Prince William Sound!!!
We are having so much fun in this beautiful state. We cannot wait to regale you all with tales from our voyage near breathtaking glacier. We hope you are all having an amazing summer!!!!