We have seen Caribou, Moose, Bears and we have seen the Dahl Sheep as little white dots on the hill. For the hikers and marathoners in the group the hikes are child’s play. Except for one hike, I have held my own, enjoying the plants, the beaver dams, the breathtaking sites and the new friendships.
In the evening the lectures have been educational sometimes even fascinating. We have learned about climate change, the oil industry and it’s unfortunate impact on the culture of the Inupiaq culture. The really engaging lessons were about the people who live in Denali year round and the dog sledders. You have to be crazy or ultra strong to live here all winter. Temperatures as low as -50 and 120 miles to the grocery store are just the beginning. The other end of the scale is companionship and potlucks with the other 100 people who stay. If that is not enough there is ice climbing, snow shoeing and dog sledding. No running water and the high cost of living are also a problem.
Dog sledders are a whole other “breed”. We meet with the owners of “Hey Moose” kennels. They are a young couple with 38 dogs they raised and trained. Both have run the Yukon 1000, a thousand miles across the arctic, in the dark and cold of February. The wife has also run the Iditarod.