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August 06, 2016

Denali

Our entire Denali National Park week was anchored at Riley Campground at the park entrance.  OK you think we’re  stupid not to move deeper into the park, but that is not our style.  I will not spend significant time with the shuttle system (8 hours to the visitor center?)   And with limited time we would rather be in the rain than shelter on a bus with muddy windows.   HA!  Of course we did use the shuttle buses when convenient and that is also part of the Denali experience.
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Within the campground is a moose and her calf, alas we missed them so here is a picture of the two from Bill and Kelly of bkadventures
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There’s a well marked trail system around Riley Campground to the main Visitor Campus. 
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With the assistance of the shuttle system to Mountain Vista we wanted to tackle the ‘strenuous’ Savage Alpine Trail.  This 4 mi one-way trail has a 1500’ elevation gain and is considered by many the best hike in the park.  I also wanted to to do the Savage River Loop.  The trails can be combined and with the use of the shuttles it becomes a 6 mile ‘lollipop’, by adding the loop to the end.
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Ideally the hike should be taken from roads end at Savage River, but we did it backwards starting at Mountain View near the Savage River Campground.  From this approach the trail climbs steadily for 3 miles and drops down in the last mile, which is pretty brutal on the knees and thighs.  Ouch!  The Savage River Loop quickly was dropped as the shuttle approached and the knees are burning!
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Notice how steep that down slope is?, but it did not seem to bother this Caribou, nor the many Arctic Ground Squirrels
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Today we took a Denali ATV Adventure tour of some of the open land within the park.  Nice tour, great guides, a few technical spots for interest and a MOOSE!  The rides are within a coal mining area near the Antler Creek Trail we explored a few days ago.  And just 10 miles outside the park SUN!
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And a moose!
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Clouds spilling out of the park are coming from where we hiked yesterday!  Good to be here!!!
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The glacier morain at Dry Creek is our last stop
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Meet our guides: Sam with the girls; Evan with the logical minds, Eva with the young men.  And our ride – it was clean when we started.
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Putting off laundry as long as possible we took the short hike around Horseshoe Lake.  A lake is level, right?  But the trail to the level part is some 250+ steps – Who Knew?  Still an easy family friendly hike, with a massive beaver dam on a pristine clear lake.  It is clear and not the glacier silt found in the rivers.
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Didn’t see a beaver that the dam, nor any otters in the lake … but
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Riley Campground had Site 9 available so we moved over next to the Mercantile for our last night in the park.  Not a great site with all the foot traffic to/from the Mercantile, showers, laundry, bus stop … But just what we needed for easy access to the laundry for 3 loads of dirty, wet clothes.  However the WiFi is quite dated and lame ….
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As I mentioned there is no diesel in Denali and we knew we could make it easily to Cantwell, where I was happy to pay nearly a $1 more per gallon!  The price drops back to reasonable at Trappers Creek.  Plan accordingly.

The Alaskan Veterans Memorial is a worthwhile stop.
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And another moose, this one crossing the road
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Talkeetna is a quirky little tourist trap, its main claim to fame is either Stubbs the feline mayor, or as a the starting point for climbing Denali or the numerous flight seeing tours.  Our weather prevented the cost of a flight seeing outing, but it was a fun town to walk. 
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And it’s home to where those tourist bottles of birch syrup originate.   Oh course we stopped, and of course we have some birch syrup.
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Mayor Stubbs has been in office since 1997, but at age 20 no longer poses for visitor photos.  But shirts are available.  Dang wanted a selfie with the mayor!
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Tonight the Walmart Camping lot in Wasalli.  When the clouds part there is a great view of the mountains.  And best it’s not raining at the moment!  Our room with a view! until ….
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Campgrounds:
Riley Campground Denali – It’s convenient to all amenities within the park and town.  Good cell service
Wasallii Walmart – good cell service, TV reception, newer clean shopping
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