This coming weekend is a big one. A few months ago we won Denali road permits – Becky on Sunday the 20th and me on the 19th. Normally the single gravel road in Denali is accessible by National Park tour buses, thus avoiding the congestion and bumper to bumper traffic found in Yellowstone, particularly in places where animals are visible or close to the road. In Denali the bus ensures that the roads never become Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It’s a good system.
For a 4 day weekend every mid September the road opens up to public traffic, providing you have sent in your $10 entry fee and been luckily chosen. Last year Becky and I ended up donating our $20. Her brother quit trying a few years ago after only donating endlessly to our national parks service. This year is the big field trip. He’ll be hauling up the fifth wheel and we’ll drive up separately on Friday night to collectively set up camp at the Riley Creek campground. It looks like we will hit 50 degrees as a high this weekend, but late at night it will hover around 32. Thankfully the canvas tent has a potbelly stove in it, which I understand often makes it too hot. That’s a chance I’ll happily take. My nylon tent is making the trip and if need be I’ll use it, but I hope that doesn’t happen. I’ve camped before where we’ve found the previous night’s soup frozen solid in the morning, so I know I could handle 32 degrees, though I’m quite certain that I would rather not do so. Hey, the mosquitoes should be dead come dusk though.
Camping in Denali and being able to take our time snaking through the single gravel vein slicing its way across the vast tundra is a privilege. The snow has not flown yet and we must snatch our moments from autumn before it does.