Yesterday was another long day. I had tried to prepare myself for the day ahead, even taking a nap on the incredible whale watching glacier cruise we had taken on a small boat the day prior and then going to bed fairly early in anticipation of long day I knew I had coming, but no matter what, the travel day from Seward to Denali always kicks my butt.
I awoke in Seward at 6am after a restless night sleep in a hotel where the early rising fisherman intermittently stirred me from my slumber starting at 3:30am. After a group breakfast at the restaurant next door we loaded into the van northbound for Denali National Park. The skies were cloudless and blue in Seward, our fifth day in a row of beautiful weather, but as we headed further north we began to experience the rain and clouds that had been predicted for the area. After nine hours on the road we pulled into Denali, the group ready for a short hike even in the rain. As they hiked I picked up our campground reservations, wilderness tour tickets for the following day and made confirmations and reservations for the upcoming activities for the weekend. I then picked the group up from their hike, where they encountered a moose with her calve, and we drove further into the park to set up at Savage River Campground.
The rain lightened for us enough to allow a fairly dry set up of camp. After setting up appetizers I made an ice run to replenish the "bar" and ice chests that were in need after a couple of days in the trailer and returned to serve some hot tomato soup while we waited for the lasagna cooking in the dutch oven. The rain continued to pour down on us creating rivers and puddles around our tents and wet clothes and shoes for most of us whenever we moved out from under our kitchen shelters. Hot food and hot after dinner drinks helped to keep us warm. We discussed the plans for the following day in the park, packed sack lunches, did dinner dishes and packed away camp into bear proof boxes and the trailer. Once everyone was settled in bed close to midnight I set up my tent quickly and crawled in completely exhausted from the eighteen hour day.
The rain never let up during the night but as we rose for breakfast at 7am we did receive a short break from the moisture in the sky. Once the group headed out for their wilderness tour in the park I finished the breakfast dishes/clean up and crawled back in bed to catch a couple more hours of much needed slumber. When I rose a bit later, feeling much more refreshed and in a much better frame of mind, I headed towards the visitors center and cell service range in order to finalize reservations and activity options for the following days. The drive down the park road boasted views of the surrounding mountains with a fresh cover of snow from the previous night and expansive tundra dotted with sparse trees all illuminated by the occasional sun peeking through the clouds that still moved across the sky. I marveled at how much I appreciated a little sun after nothing but dark clouds for even only a brief period of time.
I now sit at the campground mercantile to use the free wiifii and will return to camp soon in order to make a birthday cake for one of our group members and to meet them for the night we have planned at the local brewery for dinner and drinks.I am excited to hear about their trip into the park and hope they have many wildlife photos and stories to share with me. After dinner hopefully we can return to camp early enough to enjoy cake and conversation by the fireside as this will be my last night with the group and I have really enjoyed our time together. I will drop them at a park hotel tomorrow for their final few days in Alaska and I will return to base camp to ready myself and equipment for another camping tour across the state leaving the following day.
It is the peak of our busy time of year and I am starting to feel the affects of the past twenty five long days of work without a break, yet I am still trying to maintain a balance of positive energy and constant appreciation for each moment of every day. I truly do love this life.