Romancing the Tundra

Posted By: Sarah

February 14, 2013


This Valentine’s Day we’re reminded of the romance of the tundra. The mountains, wildlife, and natural scenery have provided inspiration to a number of artists trying to capture the beauty with each word, shutter click, or stroke of the brush. Artist or not, Denali develops a passion and love for the natural world in every person. It also ignites a love in one another. Among the community and camaraderie of fellow travelers: friendships develop, families get closer, and in some cases romances bloom. 

At Camp Denali and North Face Lodge, it’s not uncommon to find a guest celebrating their anniversary or honeymoon. A stay offers the opportunity to enjoy daily adventures in Denali through hiking, biking, and canoeing together. The evening affords time to relax by the fire while gazing at the stunning Alaska mountain range. The beautiful setting has even inspired marriage proposals, as we found out last summer. One particular evening during the sharing of the day’s highlights at dinner, a couple of guests announced their engagement. Cheers erupted throughout the dining room.

As a staff, we often get asked if our summers are anything like the movie Dirty Dancing: full of excitement and romance (and dancing). While we do have the time of our lives living in a spectacular setting with wonderful people, and sometimes even have a few nights of dancing, it’s not quite like the movies. Dating in such a remote setting can be challenging. A “date” often entails going on a hike, canoe, or bike ride.  With fifty people in our small community and most staff members having a roommate, say goodbye to privacy. And if things happen to not work out, there is nowhere to run. But even with all the challenges, a number of couples have developed relationships that last.

The lodge has been the setting of a few staff weddings throughout the years. A couple of summers ago, two staff members held their wedding up on Camp Ridge at Pika Hut. Nearly 30 staff members attended the celebration in the small hut. All the cake, food, and flowers were backpacked up the steep 3 mile trail to the hut for the “I Do’s”. Other locations that have inspired weddings and proposals include the greenhouse, Cranberry Ridge, and Potlatch (Camp Denali’s main dining/living room). This January, staff members Marshall Ambros and Megan Mulcahy (pictured) got engaged! What started as a day hike a couple of summers ago has led to the promise of endless hikes and adventures together.

While some might choose to mark Valentine’s Day with flowers, teddy bears, and chocolates, we like to reminisce about the things that romance us back to Denali year in and year out. The smells and colors of the wildflowers, exciting encounters with grizzly bears, delicious meals, cozy cabins, and yes, the camaraderie with our fellow travelers and staff, in all its forms. 

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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 the special sightings notebook, brush up on Denali National Park issues, read about our ongoing projects in sustainability, and maybe get a whiff of what’s cooking in the kitchens. 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.