Porcupyn's Blog

July 8, 2017

Alaska Trip – Day 5 (concluded)

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 11:30 pm

Folks had chastised me for the decision to use Palmer as a base. But that was a minor blip compared to what I did for my later planning!!

Back when I had originally started planning the trip, I had found out that it is rare to sight Mt Denali. In fact, after asking about Alaska on a couple of bulletin boards, the information I received was downright disheartening. Folks said that the best time to see the mountain was in winter; or one needed to plan for a week’s stay to ensure that there would be a window of opportunity.

Thoroughly dismayed, I decided to spread the trip out to chance a change in weather if we were to encounter bad weather up front. So, I decided thus:

– two days in Anchorage
– a travel day
– two days in Denali
– one day in Fairbanks (friends had visited Fairbanks and I got the impression that there was a lot to do out here as well – the Dalton Highway, the Alaska pipeline, and hot springs)
– a travel day
– one day in Seward for a cruise
– two days in Denali (in case we missed the mountain the first time, here would be our reason to do so
– drive to Anchorage to fly out

I had even put in a deposit for the Denali area cabins because everyone had said that those are the toughest to get, and I wanted to take no chances on losing those.

Then, after spending some more time researching, I calculated travel times and went, “What the heck was I thinking?!!” We’d be spending half the time on the road with that schedule. So, I decided to change the schedule around to have four continuous nights in Denali as opposed to splitting them into two sets of two. If we spend four days and four nights (counting it from afternoon the first day to the noon of the fifth day) in the Denali area, hopefully we can at least glimpse Denali on one of the days, even if the view is not perfect. And here’s where I made – what we all agreed – my biggest mistake.

My friend who had visited Alaska before us had used Talkeetna as a base for a portion of his trip and had done the Denali flyby and the glacier landing out of there. While I didn’t fancy the flight for two reasons – a) no factor of safety and b) too expensive – I assumed that Talkeetna would be as good a base as any to get to Denali. At the time of this decision making, what I didn’t realize was that Talkeetna is closer to Anchorage than it is to Denali!

And why did Talkeetna even figure as a factor? Well, by the time I looked at our schedule and decided that it needed to be changed, the cabins were unavailable for the revised (final) dates as outlined in the opening post. All alternatives were more expensive, and Talkeetna looked as good as any other. I reserved it, meaning to come back to it and change it if necessary. In the event, I never got around to revising it. By the time I found out how far exactly Talkeetna was from Denali, we were stuck with it.

And this decision got even worse soon. Why?

Well, as you have read thus far, we were in no position to go north of Denali on Day 5. By the time we reached Denali in a steady drizzle, it was past 8 pm!! Knowing how badly I wanted to drive up to the Dalton Highway, Mrs. Porcupyn bravely volunteered to come with me right then and there. But if anything, I know my limits!! So, we quashed that plan and decided to just get something to eat near the park and retire for the night. With the drizzle coming quite steadily, though the front desk person who checked us in at the cabins said that the weather was supposed to get better tomorrow (but be cloudy and rainy the day after), it was not looking good.

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