Travel Route: Anchorage – Denali Park – Fairbanks
The Majestic Beauty of Mount Denali: A Symbol of Alaska’s Wildness
Mount Denali is the highest peak in North America and stands 20,310 feet above sea level. It is hidden behind the clouds more often than not, with the mountain view obscured on average two out of every three days. Despite this, the grandeur of Mount Denali is still a sight to behold and is a powerful symbol of Alaska’s wild beauty. This majestic peak also holds a special place in the cultural history of the indigenous people who live in its shadow.
Exploring the Role of Sled Dogs in Alaska’s History at Denali National Park
During my visit to Denali National Park, I had the opportunity to attend a sled dog demonstration. The Alaskan Huskies have relatively long legs and heavily furred tails, which allow them to survive the harsh winter months. Their long tails act like a scarf; they wrap themselves around their faces and noses to provide warmth. After witnessing this demonstration, I have a greater appreciation for these animals and the role they play in Alaska’s history.
The dog formation for a sled dog team, up to 12 dogs, consists of two-leader dogs, two-swing dogs, several team dogs, and two-wheel dogs. The leaders have the most important role and need to understand and respond to all commands the musher (the driver of a dogsled) gives. The swing dogs help to maintain a steady pace and provide assistance with turning directions. Most dogs are in the team position, which involves following the dog in front of them and providing steady pulling power. Finally, the role of 2-wheel dogs is to be at the front of the carriage and bear the weight of the cargo drawn. They are usually the team’s most muscular dogs.
Reflecting on the Legacy of Christopher McCandless
A few miles north of Denali Park on the way to Fairbanks, there is a trail named Stampede, which gained fame when traveler Christopher McCandless died in the wilderness in an abandoned school bus in 1992. This story of adventure and loss was made well known by the book and later film “Into the Wild.” It’s a powerful story that reminds us that the wilderness is a powerful and unpredictable force that should never be taken lightly. It is also a reminder that life is an adventure to be embraced, come what may.