One Man's Alaska

Denali awe

July 16, 2007

It's easy to forget how REALLY REALLY BIG the Denali mountain range is, even if you live here.

There's only one road that comes into Talkeetna, the Talkeetna Spur Road. It's 14 miles long, and as you get within a mile or two of town you pass the Talkeetna Lodge on your right. Immediately after that the road peaks in height, and faces directly into the mountain range. On a normal partly/mostly-cloudy day visitors see the bottom of the mountain range and think "Oh, what a nice mountain range", and continue to drive into town. On days like this the clouds hide between 1/2 and 2/3 of the top of the range.

On a perfectly clear day -- like today -- people don't say anything, their jaws drop, and they just drift over to the side of the road in awe as though they've just been hypnotized. That's pretty much a life-transforming moment for the lucky few that get to see the largest snow-capped mountain range you can imagine.

(Whatever you're thinking right now, think bigger, like more than four miles tall.)

Fortunately for people driving into town there's a pulloff to the left you can drift into in your state of delirium. Fortunately everyone else in the turnoff is in the same mental state you're in, and once their jaws come back up they all talk to each other like long-lost best friends.

For people like me who are driving away from town the turnoff is the give-away. When you see 0-5 people at the top of the hill you know it's cloudy on the mountains behind you. When it's wall-to-wall people standing there with their mouths open, and couples are hugging each other, you know it's a clear day.

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