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Alaska - The Last Frontier

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Part 12 - Talkeetna-Denali

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Part 12 - Talkeetna-Denali
 

The following morning, the weather had indeed improved. So at 10.00 am we drove to the office of Talkeetna Air Taxi at the small airport. However, as the mountains were still covered in clouds, we were offered to wait another hour. In addition, they explained that due to the weather it wouldn’t be clear which route the pilot would be able to fly (there were various routes of different lengths to choose from in advance). Today, instead of following a set flight path, the pilot was to decide how he could fly, and we would only pay for that particular route. That was more than OK for us.

In a guide book we had read about the somewhat unusual cemetery of Talkeetna, also home of the Mountain Climber Memorial. That’s were we spent the time before the flight.

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Many – some famous – mountaineers and bush pilots who died in the mountains are buried in this cemetery.
The graves of the mountaineers are marked with mountaineering equipment, those of the bush pilots with a propeller blade.

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After about an hour we returned to the airport and to Talkeetna Air Taxi. News were: thumbs up for our flight.

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I was obviously delighted to see that this flight was also with a Beaver. And even better - on this flight, too, I was lucky to sit in the copilot’s seat.

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At first, we flew towards the mountains over meadows and woods.

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Underneath the clouds, we flew through the massif and past a few ice falls.

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Our pilot took us through the impressive mountains. Safety in mind he took us as close to the walls as he could to show us as much as possible. Every once in a while he reported the weather conditions back to base so other pilots were able to decide where to fly. It kind of made us feel adventurous.

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Next we flew over Ruth Glacier. Even from up here, its size seemed enormous. The width alone on the first photo is 5 miles!

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Eventually it was time to return to Talkeetna Airport. On the way back we flew past our hotel and were able to take some arial photos.

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We were glad that we had waited for the flight to happen. It was one more unforgettable Alaska adventure.

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After our flight we left for Denali. For lunch we stopped at the Princess Wilderness lodge, a hotel of Princess Cruise Line.

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Heavy rain had set in again, so we could only partially enjoy the rest of the drive through the otherwise interesting landscape.

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We reached Denali National Park late in the afternoon. Originally, we had booked the Bluff’s hotel. But shortly before our trip we received an email confirming that we had been upgraded to Grande Denali Lodge, the sister hotel. So we took the road not far from the park entrance and drove up the hill on top of which the hotel was located.

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The road was lined with interesting road signs.

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We checked in at the Grande Denali Lodge which had the same rustic charm as the other hotels we stayed at in Alaska.

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In the evening, the weather cleared up slightly, so we were able to enjoy the view of the National Park from the hotel.

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In the valley below there was a collection of block houses, in which restaurants, tour operators and souvenir shops tried to attract customers. We chose Prospectors for dinner.

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We immediately liked its quaint, rustic atmosphere we had got used to by now, and enjoyed an excellent dinner.

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For the following morning we had already booked the first shuttle at 6.30 am to take us into the park. That’s why we soon called it a day. Our only hope was that the improvement of weather would continue the next day.

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