Through the fire-zone to Denali.

We honestly weren’t sure if we’d be able to make this trip to celebrate the annual “Alaskaversary” for friends that visited us six years ago. We took them to Denali, they fell in love with Alaska and they proceeded to both apply for jobs in Alaska and move here!

A wildfire along the Parks Highway between Willow and Talkeetna that started on August 17th exploded on the 18th and crossed the highway. It burned more than 50 structures. The road was closed at times, and then they were running convoys through one-way at a time, with 3-4 hour waits between.

Our now truly Alaskan friends drove their motorhome up Wednesday night, the 21st, and there were still active flames next to the highway in places. We left Anchorage on Thursday, the 22nd at 5am figuring we might be in for a very long drive. Luckily we hit the closure near the head of the line waiting for a pilot car and we only had a half-hour wait until we were lead into the smoke. On and off for the next 50 miles it looked like someone had used a flamethrower along the highway. It was dark, acrid and looked like the apocalypse in spots. We saw burned out businesses, houses and vehicles. There were a lot of hot spots right along the highway where there was still smoke rising from fallen trees. The convoy ended at the Talkeetna turnoff and we continued on up to Denali. We could see and taste the smoke in the air until almost Cantwell, which is almost 125 mlles.

With that all behind us, we made our way into the Teklanika campground 29 miles inside the park, set up camp and began another wonderful trip to our favorite place on earth.

As usual, far too many pictures, but in between the brief rain showers, the light was absolutely amazing while we were inside the Park mountain biking the road. Come along for the ride. Click on the pictures and the captions will tell the story of our trip.