I'm so glad that I had the chance to do this hike. Most everyone has talked about it and it looked like I would have one more day off before the winterizing process began which I've been told would involve long days and no more days off until the end of my contract on the 25th. The weather looked really good for Sunday the 15th and although I've found out the weather predictions can swing either way quite a bit right up until that day, it turned out as predicted, full sun, not a cloud in the sky, high if 55 with a low of about 40 the night before.
The Triple Lakes Trail is 9.3 miles, elevation change of about 1,000 feet, with a maximum grade of 20%. It's listed as five hours one way but most people say you can do it in four but I did it in six, taking all the side trails, picking blue berries, but mostly being awe struck with the stunning beauty and views. I just didn't want the day to end but sadly knew it would too soon.
I left the McKinley Village Lodge at 12:30 where live and work. The trail goes north following along the western side of the George Parks Highway and the Nenana River up to the Denali Park train station and Visitors Center. I arrived at the train station at 6:20, just in time to be picked up by Sarah and some friends who work at the gift shop to go play hand and foot. Which is a card game I had never heard of, played with one more deck than the number of people playing. You have two hands of eleven cards so to speak, go through the first which is your hand and then go through your foot. Karen is our gracious host who lives up the hill in a really neat cabin overlooking the village. It's become a regular on Sunday's and Wednesdays. She has two dogs and two cats, one of cats was a rescue with almost no ears, they were lost due to frost bit. She is a very sweet gray tabby named Olga. That’s her on the stairs going up to the bed room loft. It's nice to love on these furry friends, makes me miss Max and Rosie. Then there's the pleasure of lovin on the village manager's two black Labs, Ali and Zoe. That's Ali in the picture who is always happy to see ya and eager to take a hand out.
These are 69 of what I think are the best pictures of the day and a couple of short videos. The day was nothing short of amazing! I saw thousands of sand hill cranes fling over in giant formations migrating south for the winter, a Ptarmigan the Alaska state bird, and some caribou and moose tracks. A note of interest, the town of Chicken wanted to name their town Ptarmigan but they couldn’t spell it so they named it chicken instead. Not much narration with these pictures, I want to get them up as soon as possible and I couldn’t add much to what they say anyway, except that the bright yellow of the willow trees as the sun shone on them made for an iridescentence like I've never seen.
Having posted the best of what I've seen and done here you may be thinking my time here is only that. No, there is work and two days into the winterizing shutdown I've been vacuuming the water out of toilets and tanks, then turning the shower, toilet valve, and sinks open to drain, then going back through turning them off, then going back through again turning them open, two room at a time to blow air through the lines until almost not a drop of water come out because only a little water can break a line and make start up next year really suck. But it makes for a busy day, and I've got a great bunch of co-workers.
There is so much I would like to share but haven't due to time or the thought that things should be in chronological order or categorized by subject. Realizing that's an impractical silly restriction I'm going throw those preconceived notions away and share as much as I can however. First and foremost in that category of yet to be shared gems is Paula Horvath's blog.
She is a friend of a friend, Joni Burg who left Jacksonville on the same day as I did but we didn't meet until she came by this way on her solo loop though Alaska. Her blog is diffidently worth checking out. I only wish I could write as eloquently as she. I would like to share a quote from her blog as it expresses my feelings about this wonderful adventure.
"I have learned that it is possible to engage life fully and joyfully if you open yourself up to diverse experiences and people. I have learned that from wilderness comes a sense of peace and strength that is sometimes overlooked in our hectic world. I’ve learned that I can enjoy my own company and the future is anything I want to make it. And, finally, I’ve learned that you can break the rules – that, in fact, sometimes you gain the most when you do. Don’t ever waste that chance to bring love and power into your life."
Seems like mother nature is sending a message, it's "a OK".
This was taken through my glasses with polarizing lenses just to see what it would look like. I chose to take them off for the day to see it as nature intended.
A short video at the third lake.
You could hear them as they passed over. The must have been flying a couple of thousand feet up or more.
A short vido of the Ptarmigan
That's Glitter Gulch in the distance, about two miles past my destination of the park road and train station.
Arrived at the train station. That's The Grand up on the hill overlooking Glitter Gulch in the distance.