Jun 28, 2005

Camping weekend at Wonder Lake

Posted by Mary |

Tom and I took off Saturday morning for a camping trip to Wonder Lake in Denali National Park and Preserve. With construction traffic, it took us about 2 1/2 rainy hours to reach the park - just enough time to catch the camper bus. Our driver was very nice and didn't make us stop constantly to look at caribou miles off the road. Unless it's really interesting, let's just skip it, OK?

The weather cleared for the drive in, which took about 5 hours. Wonder Lake is a 4-mile long lake with a stunning view of Denali, if the mountain chooses to show its face. After setting up the tent and stashing our food in the bear-proof locker, we wandered down to the lake and waded in, unwisely exposing our flesh to the mosquitoes. It rained later in the afternoon, so we retired to the tent for a bit of reading. After the rain cleared, Denali came out and we enjoyed dinner and a brief hike.

The next morning, we set out on a hike along the McKinley Bar Trail. Sadly, no bars were to be found anywhere along the trail. We had been warned about the mosquitoes, and were coated with 100% DEET, but they still kept swarming us. Although they didn't bite, they were rather annoying. It took us about an hour to reach the McKinley River. On the way back, the wind picked up and kept all but the strongest mosquitoes away.

After our return to camp, it began to rain again, so we opted for a nap and late lunch. In the evening, a NPS Ranger came out and gave a lecture on the history of attempts to summit Denali. As he finished, the mountain became visible once again.

On Monday, we woke up early to catch the 8 am bus, which took us out to Kantishna before starting the 5-hour journey back to the park entrance. This bus was pretty empty, and the driver let us get off during the Toklat River rest break so we could walk ahead for a while. She picked us up about 40 minutes later. After three days of coating ourselves with DEET, we wanted nothing more than to come home, shower and eat. Fortunately the weather was beautiful for our return trip, with many great views of Denali along the way. Despite some early rain and a lot of mosquitoes, we had a wonderful time.