We hated to leave behind our new friends, Bud and Sarah in Fairbanks. But we were too excited to get to Denali. The night before our reservation we camped just outside the park in a little pull out from the Parks Highway. We woke to sunshine and blue skies and and the type of excitement I had as a child on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing and repeating to Jim, we are going to Denali ! It’s always been a special place in my mind and heart. Reading about it and seeing thousands of pictures of it over this past year didn’t prepare me for having my breath taken away, time after time.
We arrived on July 1st, made a few stops at the Wilderness Center and the Visitor Center then took off for what would be our home for 10 days -Teklanika Campground. The drive from the Visitor Center to the campground was a thousand times more than what I expected. Soft green hills and a paved road that quickly turned into jagged colorful peaks and a dirt road at the Savage River.
We selected site 13, posted our reservation and took off exploring. Our campsite backed up to the Teklanika River so we hiked out to the river bed for a while then headed back to camp. We knew we had a long day ahead of us-reservations on the shuttle to go to the end of the road at Kantishna.
We had an overcast day with the sun peaking in and out all day long. When we got to Polychrome Pass in the park we couldn’t believe the colors of the hills and how the light and clouds changed the appearance of this area constantly.
I knew the wilderness area of the park was huge but I wasn’t prepared for the wildness and how wide open it was. You can see for miles and miles in every direction and I am so grateful to all those involved in setting aside this incredible jewel.
The gathering of the shuttles at Polychrome. By the way the ride up to Polychrome is heart stopping, be prepared for cliffs that drop off at the very edge.
Our little peek at the North Face of Denali makes us members of the 30% club. Only 30% of the people who visit the park get to see Denali. And of those 30% only 5% get to Denali in all its full glory.
We were absolutely blown away by this shuttle bus ride. We couldn’t believe how blessed we were to be in the middle of this crazy wild park. It truly is such a special place that grabs your heart and sinks it’s beauty into your soul. I will never forget this trip.
Happy Trails, safe travels and if you haven’t been here, this would be a special place for your bucket list.
“My mother’s only sibling, Steve Taylor, was one of seven climbers lost on Denali in the 1967 Wilcox Expedition. These poems deal with the dichotomy between the savage beauty of the park (including the incredible nine days that Denali was visible during my visit) and the tragic family history that drew me t/here.
I cannot thank the park staff enough for bringing me here, and for helping make my stay meaningful.” ~ Jessica Goodfellow
The mountains are alive. ~Clay Dillard, pilot
Nine Views of Denali by Jessica Goodfellow
The mountain appears
through a venetian blind
of clouds—stripes of weather,
Mountain and sky the same
indigoes and whites
as The Blue Marble.
Fast-moving clouds are too high
to hide the peaks, but their shadows
sweep across the ridges—
the opposite of spotlights.
Thick clouds hide all
but shifting glimpses
of the mountain, mottled white
and gray as the fifteen stones
at Ryoanji’s zen garden,
which from no angle
can all be seen at once.
The clear blue slate of Wonder Lake
twins the sky. Counting
the reflection there are two
Denalis. My uncle could be
above Denali at midnight—
a frozen fire
and the spark that has escaped it.
Wind shuffles the clouds
in a cosmic shell game
while we wager:
under which thunderhead
does the summit lie.
The mountain’s north faces
have ridges crisp as datelines—
ash blue todays on one side,
white nothings on the other.
The blank white pages of Denali,
Foraker, and Hunter are smudged
across their bottom margins
by the inky scrawl of smaller ridges—
scribbles of unreadable runes.
Behind us, the park road
winds toward the mountain
like a fuse.