Alaska (again) Denali NP


Mar 31, 2016
A few years ago I had the opportunity to spend a week in Denali NP as a Backcountry Observer during the hunting season in late September. I was paired up with another volunteer from Texas & we were "stationed" at the Savage River backcountry cabin on the northern border of the park ... our "job" was to go out each day and walk along the border and just observe to see if there was any hunting activity outside the park's boundary & if any hunters had crossed over into the park while pursuing moose. From our hikes along the border we could see hunting camps off in the distance but absolutely no activity. The weather was extraordinary for the week, mostly sunny and temps in the mid-60s during the day. It rained on our last day ... when the Park Service was scheduled to helicopter us out so we had to wait a little while before the helicopter appeared - we had to wait on a gravel bank along the Savage River outside the park boundary for the helicopter because they didn't have permission to land inside the park.
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a view of Denali on our way to our drop off point (we were on the shuttle bus)
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wildlife up on the ridge as we hiked in ...
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hiking along the Savage River ... there's an established trail for about a mile (I think) and then a herd path for a short ways, high up above the river. Then we bushwacked through the alders and such, crossing the river several times to keep things as easy as possible.
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a little wet and muddy but worth every step ...
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our "home" for the week. We had just taken the wooden "bear door" off the cabin ...
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some of the landscape around us ...
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looking back to where we'd come in ... through the notch following the river.
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some of our views while hiking along the park border
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more views ...
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a better view looking back down the river ...
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interesting find while hiking along the park boundary ...
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another interesting find ... this was by the wood pile at the cabin. Note the date ....
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inside the cabin ... this stove worked almost too well some evenings.
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our sleeping accommodations in the cabin ...
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a better look at the cabin
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this was inside the cabin ... quite the history.

We saw some moose, grouse, bear scat, and wolf tracks during our week. in our cabin someone had taken the time to copy all of the "guestbook" entries from the early 30s and have them bound into two large books! Very interesting reading while soaking up the early fall sun outside the cabin. The cabin appeared to be a favorite spot for park staff to visit, summer and winter, including several park superintendents. Many entries spoke of meeting a woman who lived nearby, usually bringing cookies and blueberry muffins to folks staying in the cabin. So we looked for this womna's home ... about a half mile away from the cabin, just over the park boundary, was a log cabin/home and out buildings. It was apparent that no one had been there for a couple years at least.

All in all a very unique opportunity & to stay in a historic place.
Great pictures. I love Denali! The lack of designated areas to visit and the ability to roam freely is so special compared to the rest of the parks in the National Park Systems. I used to be a Tour Guide up there and I super miss Denali.
Love all the colors!
Too bad there were no cookies or blueberry muffins. Sure it was still a great trip. :) Thanks for the share!
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Beautiful country, thanks for sharing and I want to go on one of your trips.
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Great gig to have and such a beautiful landscape. Love the history of the cabin too. Thanks.
Would love to spend a week in the wilderness in a cabin like that. or just build my own somewhere! the latter dream may have come from reading too many Richard proenneke journals...
How did you get connected to this "opportunity"? I'd love to do something like that.
How did you get connected to this "opportunity"? I'd love to do something like that.

My daughter-in-law is the lead NPS Ranger at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in Fairbanks .... so, to put it simply, "connections". :)

She alerted me to the opportunity & it was on the website. So I applied and she helped facilitate the application.
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