Monday, July 23, 2012

Denali National Park: Day 4...Hiking, Hiking, and more Hiking

We had fully expected this day to rain on us.  I don't know why we haven't learned by now that Alaska weather likes to play jokes on those of us who plan. But at least we were prepared either way. Rain pants, jackets, boots were all at the ready in the trunk just in case. But the Mister and I had resolved to make this our main hiking day, rain or shine.

First on our agenda: Savage River Area Hikes (Mile 15 Park Road)

The kids spotted other hikers climbing on the rocks above the trailhead and begged to try the Rock Trail first.

 This is a short climbing trail, 0.6 miles round trip. 
There is also another trail in the making, the Savage Alpine Trail, leading up to the summit of that hill behind us. The trail is still undergoing construction, but there is a "social" trail easy enough to follow. We passed on that one, our legs still a bit tired from the Mt. Healy climb two days before.

We just took some pictures at the top of the trail, looked down at the river canyon below, and headed down before Liv tried to scramble up to the top of the boulder.

 We began the Savage River Loop Trail, heading away from the parking lot, along the river one mile to a bridge that leads you back to the opposing bank's parking lot one mile back.

It is an easy, manageable trail. Little ones can do this with no problem.  I did have to hold on to Liv during a narrow section because she has this crazy habit of hopping around carelessly on narrow trails.

She also likes to climb. 

We reached the bridge and crossed over to the other side for our way back.

 But then Dylan spotted a social trail up to our right past the maintained trail. He wanted to see what was on the other side of the hill, so he and I scrambled up real quick while the Mister stayed behind with the girls, trying to chase down an arctic ground squirrel (which looks more like a prarie dog).

 We did have to cross the road bridge to get back to the other side of the river where we parked.  Since it's the farthest private vehicles can go into the park, there wasn't much traffic going over the bridge.  The cars that did go by gave us a wide berth. 

After an early dinner, we headed down to try the next trail for the day: Horseshoe Lake 

Just past the railroad crossing the Park Road, there is a small parking lot where hikers can start their trip down to Horseshoe Lake.

Just a bit along the railroad tracks (this is an active railroad)

A sign will prompt Horseshoe Lake hikers to cross the tracks to the right and start their descent.

 From the overlook point, the oxbow lake can be seen far below.

This was a nice relaxing out and back hike. 1.5 miles roundtrip.
The kids took their time, using a vegetation identification guide to name the various flowers and berries along the trail.

 Soapberry plant

 Blueberries waiting to ripen

 Down at the lake

 There is an active beaver dam at the north end, but we didn't spot the beavers that inhabit the area, although the number of trees gnawed down were fascinating enough for the girls.

 On the way back up the trail, Dylan led them in some calisthenics and walking lunges (as if the full day of hiking wasn't enough to wear them down).

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