Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Savage River Loop Trail

Denali National Park, Alaska

Although I was nervous about the possibility of encountering a grizzly, I was not going to leave the park without taking one long hike.  Like we always do, we asked a ranger for suggestions and she told us the two-hour Savage River Loop Trail was her favorite.  We could take a free shuttle there or drive the 15 miles to the trail head.  It is as far as you can drive on your own.  Beyond the river, only buses are allowed. 

"And I hear there have been lots of moose sightings," she added.

Oh, yeah.  We were in.
Well, we didn't see hide nor hair of any moose (or bear, thank goodness)  but we did see lots of pikas, the cutest little creatures I have ever seen.  Veritable balls of fluff.  We even heard their sharp, staccato chirps as they jumped from rock to rock.  These small round mammals love the cold climate and rocky slopes of Alaska.  They are small enough to squeeze into rock crevices and escape the clutches of those big bad bears.

It was one of those crisp, breezy golden days, and I enjoyed every minute of this hike.  As I post these photos, I am trying to form into words what Denali National Park meant to me.  Its beauty is not conventional.  This place will not make my Most Beautiful Places on Earth list, and yet . . . I was so awed by it.

I remember thinking to myself as I walked along this trail that there is no place else I'd rather be.  This is why I travel.  This is what I live for.  But why?  Why did I feel this way in such a desolate, forbidding place?  My travel buddy walks at a faster clip so I soon found myself walking alone--  alone in a place so wild and vast that boundaries are immeasurable.  I felt put in my place.  I was a mere speck of dust in a galactic ocean of rock formed millions of years ago.  The snow-peaked mountains of the Alaska Range, hidden behind the clouds, were nevertheless, taunting me.  We were here long before you humans.  We will remain long after you are gone.

I suppose this is the reason for my awe.  Nature is eternal.  But far from static.  Millions of years from now, what is now Los Angeles might be jutting up against the Alaskan Peninsula and North and South America might be one giant continent.  Will human beings be around?  I doubt it.

But . . . I am here today, by George, and today I am writing about this wonderful little hike next to the Savage River in Denali National Park.  Today, I realize I am not just happy to be alive, I am in AWE of it.

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