Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Alaska: Part IV.

At this point, this is all about posterity. That, and it would be rude to not have a recap for the last two days of our trip. I want to be fair to everything, inanimate or otherwise. 

You can read about the previous week we spend in Alaska here, here and here. It covers glaciers, moose, boat tours, Denali, and pizza.  Now we're on day seven, and this was the day of the sled dogs. I would be remiss not to mention these darling little beasts.

On our last day in Denali, we opted for a ranger-lead hike, because I am a nerd and love the facts that accompany these hikes. We learned that the permafrost layer is quickly melting, adding to global warming because with the subterranean melt is the release of methane.  We visited Horseshoe Lake, which was naturally developed from the quick-moving Nenana River, before being cut out by the same quick river, and left as a lake. Lastly, we learned that the sled dogs work mostly in the winter, hauling materials for trail projects across the frozen river and lake.

By chance, we saw that you could visit the sled dogs kennels at any time. This was not something I could miss. 

At first, I was taking a picture of every dog, but this post would then have about 30 individual pictures of dogs, so I'll restrain and show the roster instead.

In the summer, their job is mostly outreach - demonstration shows and friendly visits with tourists.  In the winter, they are mostly on the sled, patrolling the park and moving supplies around.

The dogs were pure muscle. It was amazing - you could feel the power in their paws as they rolled on their backs for belly rubs. They were the sweetest.

Finally, I pulled myself away so we could continue and drive back to Anchorage.  

The drive was the usual beautiful scenery, and we made a pit-stop for the Denali Brewing Company in Talkeetna.  

We had seen it on the way up, but skipped it due to timing. We tried their beer in the town of Talkeetna, but this was the brewery, and Zach needed to see what was inside.

It was a small bar (no stools, just a walk-up bar). The facility was mostly a brewery, and we happened upon a free tour of the facility (everyone is crazy nice in Alaska).  We tasted the hops and grains, saw their canning process, and a bit of the construction for the next phase. They're growing pretty fast.

We really hope for the best for this brewery - partly because they were just really cool, and partly because it'd be nice to be able to buy in Ohio. 

We started our last day in Alaska with a flight-seeing tour. We had planned to do this earlier in the trip, but the company (Regal Air) had called and rescheduled because the visibility wasn't great. Again, super nice. They had weather as a condition, and it was their choice to reschedule so we had the best opportunity to see things. Thankfully, we had a free day at the end of the trip.  Our route was to the Prince William Sound.

We didn't see as much wildlife as we would have liked, but we did see some impressive scenery, glaciers, and landed in the Sound among icebergs for a walk on the plane floats. 

That, and we got to wear the headsets. 

After the flight, we opted for a bike ride on the coastal trail, which we hadn't visited since we first hopped off the plane. It was the perfect bookend. 

We had read and been told by several people that the trail was the best chance to see moose. The trail cuts between he ocean and the airport, and the moose traffic between, concentrating them to a defined area. We were within six feet a couples times, which is way closer than they would have liked, if their huffing and puffing meant anything. I wanted to hug them.

My dream was to see a bull moose. As we pedaled along, I turned the corner to a young bull moose standing in the middle of the trail. I quickly turned back to warn Zach, and to pull out our phones to take pictures as we zoomed past. 

After that, we were on the red-eye back to Ohio. We loved Alaska and can't wait to go back.

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