Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tundra, Trails and Trains

Tundra, trails and trains. . . How's that for alliteration?  the next segment of our trip featured the excursion that Ron had particularly been looking forward to---the ATV tour!  Crystal, from Denali Tundra Tours picked us up and drove us out to their pavilion where we were fitted with helmets and given a safety talk.  Ron and I were the only ones on this particular tour, so both of the guides went out with us and we were able to go WAY out into the tundra.
The ATV's were 2-person Argo Amphibious vehicles and Ron handled the driving, while I took care of the pictures as we bounced along the trail.
The beginning of the trail was quite dusty and rocky, but Ron soon got the feel for it and we bounced along right behind our guides (Parker and ??).
The trail was the Stampede Trail, which was made famous in the 90's by the death of Christopher McCandless, who attempted to live a "simple life" in a bus at the end of this trail.  The book, Into The Wild chronicles this ill-fated adventure.   We didn't go all the way to the bus, but the trail is popular with backpackers who need to be fully prepared for the rough, Alaskan tundra.
The Argos are so loud that we didn't see any wildlife, except for one porcupine, who quickly scurried off the trail.
Of course, the most fun was when we went from dry and rocky into floating and churning through water.
I think that I did quite a bit of giggling and holding on!
Because things seemed so dry at first, I wondered where the water came from, but seeing the remaining ice along the trail reminded me that it was snow melt that filled the trail.
We were never able to see Mt. McKinley at all (she creates her own weather system, which happened to be foggy while we were there), but the ride was fun and we definitely went WAY out into the back country.
At the end of the trail, Parker was able to catch a few pictures of us as we churned through the last lake of water.
The mountains that surrounded us out in the tundra, were beautiful!!
It was quiet and peaceful.

Of course, we had to return, so we jostled our way back to the pavilion.
By the time we got back to the Denali Lodge, we were covered in dust and dirt!  So much so, that it was necessary to do a late-night load of laundry so that we could pack for the next day!

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