August 28, 2015

Winter Weather Advisory! Seriously?

When traveling to Alaska, one never knows what might be in store as far as the weather is concerned.  For the most part, we have had three months of the most amazing weather anyone could hope for.  I guess it’s our turn for some nasty stuff.

Ever since we arrived in Denali almost two weeks ago, it has rained virtually nonstop.  Yes, there were a few nice days last week (when we were sick!), but all I can remember is rain, and more rain.  I hate to complain, but even the locals are sick of this weather.  

There has been so much rain that the park road has been closed on and off due to mud slides.  Yesterday, the road was closed at mile 53 because of snow!  Yes, snow in August!  I’m just not believing it.  The temperatures have really plummeted as well, and it will likely dip below freezing during the next few nights.  Highs are only in the low 40s where we are.  Brrr!  Now, to top everything off, the park is under a winter weather advisory until noon tomorrow!  Seriously?

Baby, It's Cold Up Here

You've Got to Be Kidding!

Although most full-time RVers would take this as a sign to get those wheels moving and head to someplace warmer, Tim and I are committed to working at Denali National Park through next Friday.  Tim is conducting an on-site archival survey and accessioning project, and the work is going well.  This project is not as glamorous as cataloging a historic photograph collection, but it’s an essential part of museum management.

The contract with Denali has been a bit different than previous ones with other parks.  Typically, Tim and I work together, with each of us undertaking different components of the same project.  Here, Tim has been focused on his project, while I have been doing whatever needs to be done to help the park’s museum curator.  I do get to work with Tim on occasion, but mostly I’ve been doing other tasks.  The staff has been great to work with, and I’ve been learning lots of new things, which I always enjoy.

Hard at Work

Both Tim and I have had to spend a lot of time walking from building to building in the park headquarters area, where the roadways are under construction.  I have to confess that my most enduring memory of working at Denali National Park will undoubtedly be this endless construction, constant rain and slippery mud.  Employees at the park have had to deal with construction for the last three years, and I really do feel for them.  They are ready for it to be over.

Walking Through the Rain and Mud

Dodging Construction Equipment

One of the perks of volunteering at least 32 hours per week at Denali National Park is that our campground fees are covered by the park.  That is especially nice when the rates top $40 per night for full hookups.  Volunteers are also encouraged to get out into the park, and we are given a voucher for a trip on one of the park shuttle buses. 

Our friend Kathleen has gone out of her way to make our lives very easy while we are here.  Not only did she let us stay with her last weekend, but she also picked up groceries for us while she was in Fairbanks last Monday.  The tiny markets here only carry a few items, so that was a huge help.  Kathleen also gives us a ride to and from work every day, which is especially nice since we are traveling without a car in Alaska.  We can leave Kitty behind at the campground and not have to try and find a place to park the RV.

Watching the Trees Change Colors Day by Day on Our Way Home From Work

I actually took the day off today (volunteers are only required to work 32 hours per week), since our propane gauge registered empty.  Although I had thought about using my bus voucher to venture farther into the park today, my priority was driving to the nearby town of Healy to fill up with propane so we would have heat tonight.  I also wanted to see if I could find a somewhat larger space heater than our tiny one.  Have I mentioned that it’s been really cold?  The trip was a success.

Before I left, however, I decided to drive the RV to mile 15 in the park, which is as far as private vehicles are permitted.  At least I would get to see a little bit of the park today.  Much of the landscape was enshrouded in clouds, and visibility was limited, but the drive was still beautiful. It even snowed for a while, but the sun tried to peek through the clouds from time to time.

Driving the Park Road

Hoping for the Sun to Peek Out

Fresh snow blanketed the nearby mountains, and fall colors reminded me that winter is not far away in this part of the world.  The snow added a new element to the park experience. 

Loving the Fall Colors

Walking Along the Savage River

Looking Down at the River

Deciding that It's Just Too Cold for a Hike

Noticing the Little Things - Snow on Mushrooms

Enjoying the Breathtaking Views

Hoping to See Wildlife

Admiring the Snow-Covered Mountains

Moose rutting season has already begun, and photographers were lined up along the side of the road to capture the action.  I stopped and watched for a short while, and I was even able to see a bull moose in the distance – the first one for me this summer.

That Seems Quite Tasty
I Can See You


  1. Brrr! It sure looks like more like October or November in the photos.. But the snow is very pretty from where I sit:) Love the bull moose...gorgeous antlers! Hope it warms for you and sun appears before you have to leave!

    1. Autumn has definitely arrived in Denali, and the colors are really gorgeous. I'm glad you can appreciate the snow from a distance! Ha! The weather is supposed to improve next week, so I'm crossing my fingers.

  2. As hot as it has been in Rome, I sure would enjoy some of your cold temperatures now. Sorry the weather has not been cooperating for you ... but I must say Denali is beautiful with all those fall colors ... enjoy what you can. Heard a few weeks ago that Mt McKinley will officially become Denali (if it hasn't already) ... I think it's only right that the name be changed back to its original.


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