Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Great One

Sometimes it is hard, even for me, to comprehend my life. All this moving around, changing residences, changing jobs, and traveling was hard for those closest to me for a long time. Even now it's probably hard for my parents sometimes, but my friends have gotten used to it (it seems) and others just shrug it off. While I like to think that it has kept me active and excited about life, even I find it difficult sometimes to be in constant motion, and it often takes a toll on me physically. After being in Denali about a week, I came down with a head cold, which is really not that awful. However, when starting a new job and trying to make an impression, staring into space and speaking with a voice like a 70-year-old throat cancer survivor feels a little awful. No matter what I did, I couldn't kick it. I tried to sleep a lot, but I'd just get angry when I slept.

So today, we went for a hike. I was a bit wary at first, thinking my stamina with this cold wouldn't be the best, but I went anyway. A bluebird day in Denali is rare, and the chance of seeing Denali itself is even more rare. It's been on and off rain-snow-hail-sleet-sun here for the past week, in an unseasonably cold spring (so say the locals), and there was no way I wasn't going to spend some time in the sun today. So after lunch, Ben, our new friend Mike and I headed out to the park to cruise up the road and find a place to walk in. Denali NP is huge- twice the size of Glacier in area, 2 million square miles- but is very open. There are miles-wide floodplains creating valleys between the mountains, obviously remnants of massive glaciers. There are still massive glaciers all around Denali itself, and even some of the "lesser" mountains, which are still all over 14,000 ft. Take that, Montana.

Even more incredible is the accessibility of hiking in and around Denali. Because it is the arctic tundra, there are little to no trees. There are some, but avoiding clusters of trees is fairly easy. We parked on the side of the road, a bit past the 12-mile mark, which happens to be the normal turn-around point for personal vehicles during the normal season. Mike has worked in the area for years, and pointed out a footpath that skirted up into the brush and quickly emerged into a ridge walk. Within an hour we were on the ridge, albeit rather out-of-shape for ourselves, squinting into the distance at a cloud-free Denali. We figured we were at about 80 miles from the massive mountain, and it's summit about 16,000 above our heads. It is huge. Though the peaks around it are tall, none of them compares to Denali itself.

 Denali/ Mt McKinley

moose on the loose!

Getting out in the air, letting my nose run a little bit, feeling the sun and wind chap my cheeks was a nice reminder of the beauty in these ridiculous places we choose to inhabit. This summer I hope to write quite a bit in this blog, as I would like to practice my writing and bounce ideas off of the soundboard that is the world wide web. Maybe getting my ideas out in the open will challenge me once and for all to start this book that has been festering in my mind for the past couple of years. Either way, I will provide photos of our escapades in Denali, and maybe a story or two about our time here, but facing the facts about our summer: it will be short and it will be busy. Total immersion in the workplace needs to end somewhere, and hopefully writing here can be my escape. 

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