Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dancing With THE Mountain!

One of the great joys of the past few days has been the outstanding views of Denali. Whether crystal clear or partially clouded over, it never fails to awe and inspire. I get to see the mountain from my camping area at the Veterans Memorial on the Parks Highway. It doesn't matter, early morning sunrise or late evening sunset, the view is simply peaceful and serene.
Denali after sunset from the Veteran's Memorial.
Denali the next morning at sunrise, clouded over.

Some have asked me about my little Scamp travel trailer. It has proven to be perfect for my needs while I work at the Princess Lodge. Here is a photo of it. To the right is the view from the Scamp down to Byers Lake at sunrise. There is a nice five mile hike around the lake. It's a really nice place to camp. The ridge above is called K'esugi  Ridge and there is trail access from Byers Lake. Everything in this post is part of Denali State Park.
My Scamp and the K'esugi Ridge in the background.
Sunsets are a major event here, especially when they look like this!

The main attraction of the Veteran's Memorial is the grotto of pillars and the statue in tribute to Alaska's veterans. It's a nice place to contemplate what our Armed Forces have done for our country.

Always on guard!

From here each morning I drive 14 miles south to the Mt McKinley Princess Lodge. A lovely complex with visitors from all over the world.

The lodge from the overlook.
Alaska Range

Closer views of THE Mountain--Denali!

Even Spirit likes the view!

Above, the McKinley Princess compound from the Hill Trail, with the Alaska Range behind. You can even take a covered wagon ride around the area. The view from one of the overlooks on the Hill Trail below.

I just can't imagine a more picturesque place to work!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge

The past three summers I have worked for Alaska State Parks at the Willow Creek Campground. I was the fee attendant. This summer, the parks did not get funding for my job. I volunteered anyway for a couple friday nights during King season just to be sure the Parks got their parking fees paid. Then they closed the river to fishing for Kings because not enough were making it upstream to spawn.

A week or so after that happened, the head Ranger in my area asked if I was interested in working at the visitor information desk at the Mt McKinley Lodge which is in Denali State Park. He asked me this at the beginning of the season and I declined as I working for the census. I also wasn't sure I wanted to be around that many tourists. But, I drove up one day to have a look at the place and found it delightful. So I took the job.
McKinley Princess Lodge from the overlook.
It has actually been more fun than I expected. Tourists from all over the world visiting Alaska and having a great time. I smile every time one of them excitedly tells me how they went to Susan Butcher's kennel, or they met Libby Riddles or Lance Mackey, or Aily Zirkle got on the train with them. They are having such good times, despite the rainy summer.

Denali from the lodge deck.
A tourist howls with the wolf statues.
While working here I've been living in my Scamp at the Veterans War Memorial 14 miles up the road next to Byers Lake. One morning I got up to go to work and the Mountain was out!
I love getting all different views of Denali.

One of the great parts of my job is that I get to give a mushing demonstration every evening. I make it known that I am a recreational musher, but I know enough about the races to answer just about any question that comes up. I also get to teach my way of thinking about the sport and how misinformed are the animal rights people. The best part is I get to bring one of my Siberian Huskies.  I've brought Rosie  and Spirit. Both have been overwhelmed by the number of people who want to pet them and take their picture.  Rosie liked it for a while, but by the second day made it known she wasn't happy. She stays home now. Spirit is having a pretty good time of it. He talks a lot and people like that. I make sure he gets some down time behind the desk with me or out in the car. This is a great job!
Rosie next to my desk under the black bear hide.
Spirit at the overlook--Denali in the background.

Denali from the overlook. That's the Chulitna River lower right.