Denali National Park Day 1 by Kenny & Kristen

Posted on 2017-06-18

Getting up fairly early from the Treehouse we packed up and headed down to denali. The Plan was to get there and get our backcountry gear and then do some day hikes until we set out on our back country hike. The drive went pretty smoothly. We drove through some small towns and saw the Nenana and Tanana rivers. We even drove through some small towns (Nenana) which seemed almost abandoned at 7:30 in the morning. They did have these sweet snowcats that seemed to be used still thought. ![blogPics](/static/img/dnp1/dnp0.jpg "Snowcats") We stopped on the way in Healy to grab some breakfast at Rose’s Café. This place was BUSY for being what looked like in the middle of nowhere. We ordered some scrambled eggs and ham and sausage and Kristen got a pancake as big as her head while I got French toast. After we finished we hit the road once again to Denali! ![blogPics](/static/img/dnp1/dnp1.jpg "Snowcats") After about a two hour total drive we made it to the national park! We strolled in, watched our backcountry safety video and received our backcountry safety talk (necessary to have before any back country hiking/camping) and picked out which unit we were going to stay in. If you have never backcountry hiked before or at least in Denali, this should be of focus. Depending on how many days you would like to stay, you need to figure out your trail and units you need to stay in to make it work. In our case we only had one night and we had been thinking about units 12 or 13. We ended up getting unit 11 (you can plan beforehand but if you get there and the unit is full you have to be able to change it up- wasn’t to hard for us since we were mostly winging it anyways). We signed our permit and received our bear canister and we were on our way!( ish). Once you get your backcountry permit, you usually aren’t good to camp in the park until the next day, which was our case as well. ![blogPics](/static/img/dnp1/dnp2.jpg "Denali Welcome Sign!") So we grabbed our day bags and set off to hike a few day hikes in the beginning of the park. One we both knew we wanted to do was the mount Healy Overlook. This is one of the steeper hikes on the trial within the first 15 miles of the park but gives great views all around. So we headed up there and boy it was steep! It took us an hour or more to make it to the top and we enjoyed some great blue skies and clear weather to see what it had to offer. On the top of the overlook you can see where there is another foot trail that continues off beyond to some higher peaks. At this point Kristen was already pretty tired from heading up the regular trail (which is no joke steep, we saw and heard several folks turn back). So naturally I convinced her to continue on to the higher peaks, which she did very unwillingly by the look of her face but she enjoyed it once she made it to the top=]. ![blogPics](/static/img/dnp1/dnp3.jpg "Mount Healy") We headed back down Healy and had one more hike we wanted to accomplish which was Horseshoe lake. It was luckily in the other direction of the trail we just did so once we hit the bottoms we just kept on walking to the lake. This was actually a pretty great and relatively easy hike. You go down into a valley that has some high rising cliffs that surround a lake that a few beavers have made their home in. There is an overlook with a bench that provides a good viewpoint to the lake and then a small loop that goes around the lake and to the river that the lake drains into. ![blogPics](/static/img/dnp1/dnp4.jpg "Lake") On the way around you can see a pretty up close view of the dam’s that the beavers have built to create the lake which was pretty awesome. And as we walked to the backside of the pond we had a pretty cool surprise. There was a moose on the trail about 75 feet in front of us. So we took some photos and held back a bit until the moose headed off into the woods and we continued on to the rest of the hike. ![blogPics](/static/img/dnp1/dnp5.jpg "Moose Sighting") The trail bent back around to the far side of the beaver dam and as we stopped to look, we could see a couple of the beavers swimming and carrying material for their home. It was a pretty neat sight as I don’t think I have seen a real beaver outside of a zoo or roadkill before. So we continued on and finished up the hike we some time to spar on getting a campsite. ![blogPics](/static/img/dnp1/dnp6.jpg "Lake View") The campsite at the beginning of the park was full so we decided to stay in a campground about 6 miles south of the park which wasn’t to bad to get to. A note on the roads – the Alaska highway's (1,2 and 3) are all in pretty good shape really. But in some spots you can tell that the ground below has sunk which causes some parts of the roads to have some good dips. If you hit those at 65 miles an hour or more, you get a pretty good time and also probably some air time. ![blogPics](/static/img/dnp1/dnp7.jpg "Alaska Road") You just need to be careful and approach them as you need. But once we made it to our campsite, we pitched our tent and proceed to cook some dinner and then grab some showers. We knew we were in for a pretty big day tomorrow.

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