August 12th, 2011
Denali NP has only one road into it, and most of that is closed to private vehicles for most of the year (All but a couple of days). Access into the park is by shuttle bus. I had gotten there too late in the day for any of the shuttles, so I got a tent site (there were no RV sites available, but lots of tent sites. Should have been a clue). Like several of the campsites I’ve found up here, you couldn’t actually take your vehicle (or motorcycle) to your site, but had to park close than walk in from there. And there was no overnight parking for tent sites available in the campground, so after the tent was up I had to ride over the the visitor center and walk back (just over a mile).
At least Curiosity had a good view. And yes, I took everything off. At this point I was thinking about spending a couple days here in Denali, it was beautiful and I liked my campsite.
Then I woke up around 3am, shivering in my sleeping bag. My phone claimed it was 30f, I didn’t go looking for someone to ask. I crawled deeper into my bag and tried to go back to sleep. The result was I didn’t actually get up until after 10, and was still freezing.
Just a word on my sleeping bag. It is the same bag I have as far back as I can remember. I carried it into the woods on boy scout camping trips, and have lived in it for weeks or months on the road trips I’ve taken the last couple of years. Talking with my mom, who bought the bag for me, it might be about as old as Curiosity. She had no idea anymore what it was rated for. Whatever it had been rated for it probably wasn’t really good for that anymore. Huddled in the bag I could see little points of light where the quilting had failed.
When I did get up I realized I couldn’t do another night of that. I walked over to the visitor center to find out it was actually supposed to get colder (!!) at night. I wandered around and thought about my options.
First moose I saw.
I could head back up to Fairbanks, get on the Alaska Highway and start south. There was an outdoors-y shop there, but I hadn’t really gone looking at stuff in it. Or I could head south to Anchorage and see what was available there. Anchorage is bigger than Fairbanks, and they are both (about) the same distance from Tetlin Junction, which leads back into the states. I decided to head for Anchorage, if I could find a better bag there I would still be able to head into the Kenai Peninsula, which was something I wanted to do.
I packed up and headed out of Denali. Anchorage isn’t far, and I had heard the Harley Davidson dealer had free camping. It was supposed to be almost 20 degrees warmer there, so off I went.