Denali Dispatch

It is our pleasure to present Dispatches, a journal of the goings on at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge.

 

Written by members of our staff, Dispatches is an opportunity to peek into life in Denali: wildlife sightings, Denali National Park issues, recipes from our kitchens, and insights into the guest experience at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge. Dispatches will carry on through the winter, when we hope to share stories of snowy ski adventures, deep cold, and the events of a small Alaskan community.



Midsummer Musings

August 02, 2019

If you’ve ever gone to summer camp or sent your children to one, you may be familiar with the philosophy that a lack of letters home is actually a good thing – it means the camper is having too much fun to write. Consider this a humble excuse for the pause in blog posts since May. We’ve been so busy adventuring outside, clamoring for cookies and cozying up in our cabins that we just couldn’t find the time. But I promise we’re all—guests, staff, and the Camp dog, Pelle—making lots of new friends.

Spring came fast and hot this year. Hikers and porch-loungers alike were treated to warm temperatures, dryish days, and the annual rainbow of wildflowers: hues of pink, yellow, greenish or buttery or spotted white, purple, blue and forget-me-not, Alaska’s state flower, which are of a particular color that the English language is not at this time equipped to describe.

Warm spring weather turned into a record-smashing June across the state of Alaska and unusually high temperatures persisted into July. Day after blazing day, Camp Denali denizens cooled off in Nugget Pond and Moose Creek, grizzlies napped in the shade of willows, and mosquitos waited until evening to swarm (the biting flies, unfortunately, did not follow this same etiquette.) The tundra vegetation would have liked more rain, but made do with brief afternoon thunderstorms and the occasional orchestral burst of hail. Meanwhile, we humans enjoyed many cloudless evenings of stunning mountain views.

Despite the heat, the animals and plants carried on, and so did Camp Denali. Our operations crew continued work on the new cabin that was begun last fall, guides led eager guests on memorable hikes across the Park, our chefs sweated over hot grills, turning out salmon, grilled corn, naan, Alaskan pork chops and all manner of delicious sustenance, and the housekeeping staff kept the windows free of pollen and the floors clear of dust. After a particularly hot week in July, when the smoke from wildland fires burning across Alaska blocked out the sun, temperatures finally cooled and the rains returned in a friendly, every-other-day sort of way.

As we head into August, we are already picking the first blueberries of the season, and making jams out of little orange cloudberries, also called "bake-apple," "salmonberry," and "kkotl" in the local Koyukon Athabaskan language. These days we celebrate the wetness of our post-hike boots, because we know the tundra needs the water. The endless daylight of the solstice is finally fading, and we are beginning to experience a shadow of the dark to come, though only now in the middle of the night; soon enough, we will find ourselves shocked to need flashlights for evening outhouse visits. The mosquitos—knock on wood—are almost completely gone.

Now we head into the end of summer and beginning of fall. We have welcomed many guests as strangers, and parted as friends. We will welcome many more. The middle of the season is a special time: so much to look back on, so much to look forward to. So many blueberries already eaten, and so many more blueberries to eat.

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