Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge

The main lodge that houses the great lobby, gift shop, ranger desk, Grizzly Bar, Mountain View Dining was impressive. I'm not gonna go on and on about it, since, really the star of the show is outside. The view is absolutely breathtaking. Madison, my niece from Utah, kept saying, "Wow, there are so many trees here!"

We dropped our luggage off in our rooms. We got lucky and had our rooms in the Bldg 1, right across from the main lodge.  I understand there are over a dozen buildings, some a considerable walk from the center of the resort. We headed straight for the excursions desk and signed us up for two, one for later in the afternoon, the other for the next day. Then we set off to explore the grounds a bit.

This is on the Lodge Trail, which is about 3/4 of a mile if that. The gravel path lead us on a loop around the main lodge. There were many lookout points that showed off the Susitna River below, plenty of wildflowers, and even a bunch of berry-yielding plants.

This is a high-bush cranberry, not quite ripe yet. Although it didn't stop the girls from trying it out. I was laughing so hard at their faces, I didn't get a chance to capture on film.

Considering the weather forecast for Talkeetna and Trapper Creek called for constant rain, we did not expect to see Mt. McKinley this time around. The folks there seem to get a really big kick out of saying, "Only 30% of visitors who come here get to catch a glimpse of the mountain." But when we arrived at the lodge, the sun was shining. And as the day wore on, and the sun kept up its presence, our hopes of seeing it lifted and grew.

We had dinner after our first excursion and retired to our rooms, with McKinley still hiding behind clouds. We signed ourselves up for the mountain viewing wake up call. Yep, they call your room if the Great One makes an appearance. I understand they do this for the Northern Lights as well (but that's usually during the winter). It was 10:45 pm, and I was whining to the Mister about how bummed I was that I hadn't seen the mountain yet. He pulls the curtain to our window aside to peek outside, ready to say it was still hidden when he froze, "I think I see part of it."

Mister, D, and I rushed out across the street and through the back of the lodge to confirm the sight. It was there! The very peak of it, still behind cloud cover, but the majority of it was in plain view!!! Mister D ran to collect Grandma and the girls and we were able to snap this pic before everyone else came out in droves from their rooms!
Right above Dylan's head in all its 20, 320 feet of glory is Mt. McKinley (the big white mountain also called Denali), above the Mister's head is Mt. Hunter , and off to the left from Liv's is Mt. Foraker. What a sight! All day, all we saw was the Tokoshna range (the mountains that are dark in the back) since it was only 20 miles away. During sunset, the Alaska range along with the showstopper McKinley made a grand entrance. 

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