Thursday, September 1, 2011

Denali National Park

Today finds us on another long and winding road heading south from Fairbanks.  We left Fairbanks under fair skies.  Our planned route would take us from Fairbanks to Anchorage through Denali National Park.  Needless to say, the camera was kept close to hand.  

The road stretched before us as we passed through endless forests and mountains that seemed barely touched by the hands of men.  The road was the only constant reminder that many others had passed this way before us.  It's funny to me how we find ourselves traveling down these nearly empty roads with the faith that somehow we would arrive at a place that we really wanted to be.  

The fall colors are coming forth in a dazzling array of golden yellows, brilliant oranges and deep maroon reds.  This is a side of Alaska that the summer tourists all miss in their haste to be gone before the snow flies.  It's also a powerful reminder of how fast time flies and how quickly the winter snows will be upon us.  I find myself thinking of an old fable about an ant and a grasshopper quite often these days.

As we marvel at the landscapes that are unrolling before us, we suddenly find ourselves face to face with the "granddaddy" of Alaska - Mount McKinley! There are mountain vistas and mountain views and glaciers and valleys everywhere we've traveled in Alaska.  Many of the mountains have kept their "snow bonnets" or perhaps a light dusting of snow throughout the summer.  The beauty of mountains has long been one of my favorite vistas.  None of this has prepared us for the magnificence that suddenly lies before us! 

As we drive southward through Denali National Park, we find ourselves playing "peek-a-boo"with this incredible mountain.  The road winds in and around the lesser peaks as the rivers and creeks play alongside.  The trees are thick along the roadside and we find ourselves craning our necks to see through every small break.  Each roadside pullout is a potential for a shot, or NOT! and the clouds add to the frustration of the game.  At any moment, a view could open up that would be completely obscured with passing clouds.  DannyLee is doing his best to try and catch every opportunity and we're grateful for the lack of traffic.  Anyone trying to follow us could have grounds for a serious case of road rage. 

We're amused to find that we're not alone in this game as we play leapfrog with other "photo hounds" seeking that one "perfect shot".  As we're heading south, we come upon a group of cars and photographers all standing in the middle of the road with these huge cameras.  Our rearview mirrors fail to reveal the "object" of their intense scrutiny and we could only know that it was Mt. McKinley that held their attention. 

I can't say that we got the "perfect shot", but we're satisfied with what we've got.  Everything managed to come together (or apart (clouds!)), as they say and Mt. McKinley shined forth wearing it's beautiful white snowcap.  It was a beautiful day! 

Mount McKinley

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