Trip Report - A hike in Denali
by John Curington
Some hikes are so beautiful that you revisit them in your mind for months after your return. This summer I had one of those hikes and I am writing a little trip report to give a few details. These might be helpful if anyone is planning a hike in Denali National Park next summer. There were many details about organizing a hike in Denali that I had a hard time learning about before the trip. I hope you find this description useful and enjoyable….
We started the trip with three people and three backpacks, all arriving by plane and meeting in Anchorage in late July of 2011. The airport is only a few miles from downtown and the cab ride into town was quick and inexpensive. We checked into the Spenard Hostel and were pleased to see that the hostel was clean and the staff was friendly. The common rooms were comfortable and the kitchens were well-stocked with pots and pans. We walked out into the Anchorage drizzle and had pizza at a nearby restaurant.
Unfortunately, my duffle bag with my backpack inside was lost by the airline and didn’t arrive that night. The next morning we took a cab to the Anchorage train station. The other two from my group took the train to Denali, but I stayed behind and walked back to the hostel. Because the airlines had lost my backpack, I had no sleeping bag or camping equipment. After chatting with the airline folks by phone, I had decided to stay and wait for my bags to arrive. The desk staff at the Alaska Railroad office were very nice about changing my train reservation at no charge.
The walk back to the hostel was very pleasant. There was a light rain and the air was refreshingly cool. I chanced upon several bike paths and nice pedestrian walkways. I was impressed that Anchorage seemed like a fairly livable city (at least in the summer when I was walking around). While waiting for my bags, I walked into downtown Anchorage with a nice fellow traveler from the hostel. Anchorage has a huge REI store for browsing through outdoor gear and very nearby is the fantastic Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking store. Both of these stores had a great selection of outdoor gear including tents, coats, rain pants, etc. The staff at Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking seemed super well-informed and very helpful. On the walk back to the hostel, I stopped at the Carrs grocery store and bought food for lunch and dinner. The store was huge and well-stocked with excellent veggies and fruit. We had shopped back at home and flown in all of our food for our hike, but the Carrs store is large enough and seems very well stocked; so if you wanted to do all you provisioning in Anchorage, it seems like you would have no trouble at all.
I walked back to the hostel along pleasant roads and pedestrian paths and had a nice lunch. At the hostel, I had a nice chat with an urban planner who had just taken a Green Tortoise bus trip in Alaska. The folks from her tour seemed to have much enjoyed the trip and spoke highly of the Green Tortoise system.
(continued on next post) John Curington MD, review of hike in Denali