Alaska Blog XXII-Along the Denali Highway

toothy mountains along Denali Highway

toothy mountains along Denali Highway

From McCarthy we drove back the 60 miles on narrow dirt road, to Chitina. We had lunch in town and the wind – that had disappeared while we were in the middle of the Wrangell Mountains, — was up again. Julie and Peggy bought ulus, beautiful knives as presents for their partners and for Julie’s son back home.

We drove north on AK 4, the Richardson Highway, to Glennallen. Here’s a news item from the Copper River Record. On May 30, a Grizzly bear tried to “fuel-up” at The Hub in Glennallen and apparently had a craving for Tok Thai food.

Around 3:25 a Grizzly showed up behind The Hub right next to Tok Thai. The bear quickly found out he couldn’t fuel-up at either business, especially since he wasn’t about to pay. So, no pay, no food, and besides, the owner of Tok Thai grabbed his gun and started after the bear. Grizzly wanted no part of a man with a gun and took off. The Grizzly got away.

The word went out that there was a Grizzly in the area and signs were posted warning customers to be cautious since they figured the bear would probably be back. In a little while, The Hub got a call that the bear was up at Ace Hardware. This time the bear couldn’t make a getaway and, thus, ends this bear “tale.”

Submitted by Janet Rembe, Tazlina.

There was highway construction on the road and while we waited for our turn on the one-lane that was open, we chatted with a construction worker, a young woman holding the “stop” and “slow” signs and the radio to give the all clear. She grew up in the neighborhood, went to a one-room school house, and last summer she was in the back of a pick-up, going through town and a smallish brown bear loped along beside the truck for a mile or so. She said she was scared.

All this way we continued going around the Wrangell Mountains. Now we were west of them and could see the volcano caldron at the back of Mount Drum.

We camped that night at Lake Paxton, still, with some ice cover, and very early in the morning loons sang to us. That’s where the camp host told us other campers had seen a brown bear in the night.

At Glennallen, we turned west onto the Denali Highway, 200 unpaved miles.  To the north was the Delta Range that, west of the Susitna River, is known as the Alaska Range.

These mountains are snow-covered, toothy, and unrelentingly dramatic. Along the road we saw caribou and we stopped at one point to hike a trail. Well, it was more an ice slurry than a trail. Dave said, just walk right on through. Don’t worry about getting your feet wet. It’s safer not to try to pick your way around.

I wanted to take a photo. The sun was shining bright on a mountain midsection. But by the time we pulled over, thick fog was on us. We got to Denali Park and made camp in Riley Creek Campground.

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