We woke up to sunny skies and there was no question we were both dying to get back on the road. Skies started to turn grey as we approached Denali National Park. We were always on the lookout for Mount McKinley, but the odds weren’t in our favor. Also referred to as Denali, we have a 25-30% chance of seeing it during this time of year. Being the highest mountain peak in North America, Mount McKinley creates its own weather system and is often covered in clouds. Hopefully we’ll get our chance over the next couple of days.
We stopped to fuel up in Cantwell and hung out for a bit to recharge all our batteries for our electronic devices. We used the facilities to clean ourselves up as best we could and talked to a few Harley riders on their way back from Fairbanks. Judging by the rain gear they were wearing, the weather didn’t look too promising up ahead. They told us it was raining all the way from Fairbanks and it just started to clear up here in Cantwell. Well then, I guess there’s no need for us to be in a hurry. I think we’ll hang out here for a bit where it’s warm and dry. We also met a husband and wife team who were truckers and were coming back from Prudoe Bay. They told us the road conditions on the Dalton Highway were as good as they’ve ever seen it in many years. That’s very reassuring. They told us to stop by at a burger joint just after we cross the Yukon River on the Dalton and grab a bite to eat. All we had to do was mention their names to the owner and all will be taken care of. That was really nice of them.
When the weather started to clear up a bit, we took our chances and started to look for a place to camp somewhere along the Denali Highway.
Ooh ooh the sun’s coming out!
The land started to really open up and we were surrounded by vast wilderness. The road conditions weren’t too bad considering what we’ve been through in Big Bend and the times we plowed through some soft sand. If the road conditions on the Dalton are similar to this, our chances are very good that we’ll make it out of there alive.
After riding along the Denali Highway for a couple of miles, we were convinced that there weren’t any ideal places to camp. However, we did spot a rest area that allowed free camping a couple of miles south of Cantwell. We decided to backtrack a bit and camp there.
This was the real reason we wanted to camp here; a place where we can stay dry and not be confined in our tent.
Much easier than setting up a bear hang
We still had a few days to kill before our bus tour to Kantishna on the 8th so we decided to stay another day. We found ways to amuse ourselves through song and dance.
This is funny and embarrassing at the same time. I was trying to get a fire going the old fashion way by using the technique Tom Hanks used in the movie Cast Away. There I was, hunkered down working vigorously, constantly blowing air to get something started. Then all of a sudden I’m lying on my back with the sun beating down on my face. I slowly opened my eyes to see clear skies and mountains and I felt I was being lifted by angels. I was in a trance of total tranquility, having no clue where I was until Amanda came running to my rescue and asked if I was alright. “What happened?” I asked. “You must’ve fainted.” She replied. She told me I was out for only a couple of seconds, but it felt like waking up from a long deep sleep.
Hidden amongst clouds.
Highest above all others.
Here stands “The High One.”