Denali, Day 3

Today was a quiet day. We got in a couple of hikes close to the Riley Campground, where we are located. Nothing too strenuous or exciting and certainly no photos like yesterday’s adventure deep into the park.

Our first hike was around Horseshoe Lake, a small lake and beaver pond near our site.

A view from the top of the trail.

The water is clear and cold and the trail winds around the lake and then up a fairly steep climb to the top for a total of about 3.8 miles.

Beavers are a significant contributor to the lake. Without their dam there would be no lake.

We got a good glimpse of what the town outside Denali has done to build itself into the hillside. It is sort of an interesting way to accommodate the realities of a narrow valley bounded on one side by a mountain and on the other by a national park.

It’s a little hard to see but the town is built up almost in the shape of a triangle.

Our second hike was through the forest on the McKinley Trail. Again, not much photogenic about the hike, which was only about a mile and a half, but the park residents kept a wary eye on us to make sure we didn’t break any rules.

Quoth the raven, nevermore.

Our best news is that we were able to score an extra day here by watching the computer reservation system pretty regularly looking for cancellations. After three days of watching we got luck. The entire campground in booked full every day and the only way to get in now that tourist season has started in earnest is to watch for cancellations. It is sad to go by the reservations desk and see people lined up trying to get a site only to be turned away because there is no room. Over 400,000 people come here every year to visit so the few sites that exist are reserved, often a year ahead.

The forecast is for rain tomorrow but we shall see. The rain tends to be spotty and occasional. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to do a more challenging hike tomorrow, or get in some mountain biking. There is a really fun (but challenging) mountain bike trail that climbs up to the park headquarters several miles into the park. We tried a bit of it a couple of days ago and found it very challenging with some very steep uphills and some muddy spots. For us, that is a challenge since we are novices.