Denali National Park and Kantishna Roadhouse

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We’ve been back in the lower 48 for about two weeks now, so these posts are my effort to get caught up. A lot happened in Alaska, in more ways than I think I can explain.
I’ve been dreaming about Alaska every night since we left it. I’m always in the landscape somewhere. I wake up not knowing where I am. What I will try to share with you in the next two posts about Denali is a just a suggestion of the feelings I have when I dream about Alaska. The only words I have to describe the feeling is archetypal wildness. Yet it is more subtle than that sounds, and those are just words; or they were to me until I felt Alaska.
I wish I could make these pictures bigger.  Alaska is bigger than I could really wrap my head around. Maybe that’s why I’m dreaming about it.  On some level I’m still trying to get a handle on it.

We left Anchorage at about 6am for the drive to Denali National Park. This was the view along George Parks Highway, or Rt. 3 north.  Long flat expanses of green, dotted with dark spruce trees and speckled mountains in the distance. It was heavily cloudy with only rare patches of sun, about 60 degrees and drizzly off and on.

We arrived at the Visitor’s Center and entrance to Denali National Park at about noon, parked in the long term lot and hooked up with our shuttle to the Kantishna Roadhouse. The only road into Denali is about 90 miles long, restricted to Park busses and the shuttles of the few lodges and camps at the end of the road. 
Our driver, Kirsty Knittle (also a wildlife photographer), was a miraculous wildlife spotter. But I nabbed our first sighting. Can you count the bull moose in this picture?

Can you believe how massive this guy is? I’m sure he’s the hugest moose in the world. Look at that belly! His buddies were pretty big too.  But this was only the beginning of our wildlife sightings, thanks to Kirst…