The Opening Crew

Posted By: Lee Drury

May 21, 2013

On May 6th our opening crew arrived at our lodges in Kantishna. Staff member Lee Drury was part of the crew and describes the first week:

“We’re here!!

Yes, the Opening Crew, all 13 adults, plus Danika and Silas, are on site and working hard to prepare for the Camp Denali/North Face Lodge guest season to come.  We flew over the Alaska Range from Talkeetna in planes equipped with skis for landing on the snow-covered (about three feet of it) Kantishna Airstrip.  While the logistics are complicated, total transport required one bus, three airplanes, two snow machines (several round trips to North Face from the airstrip, about four miles), bucket-brigade-type lines for unloading food and necessary cargo, and lots of snow-shoveling. 

Once ferried to North Face Lodge from the airstrip, each person had a task, and we all set to it.  By nightfall we had heat, melted snow for washing dishes, and a shoveled path to the outhouse; by the following morning limited toilets and showers, and a delicious hot breakfast.

Here at week’s end, it’s clear that work has progressed.  Camp buildings and paths are shoveled out, there’s a clear—well, muddy—track plowed from Potlatch to North Face, seedlings bask in the sun, our own sprouts grace salads.  A new generator is installed; the new staff cabin boasts completed interior work, the frame for the lodge foundation has been cut, new towel racks are installed in cabins, one quilt is done and work on new curtains has started. 

While it is certain that we’re here to work, we’re also having fun.  Jerri Cole still holds the distance record for sliding down Camp hill, and staff members have been seen snowshoeing—and even crawling—on rapidly melting snow cover.  Sunscreen tubes and bottles (from 33 SPF to 70) hold down the desk in the living room.  Early morning forays on skis to Wonder Lake and after-dinner walks round out our days. 

Now, at the end of the first week of Opening, the road crew chews through an 18-foot drift over towards Eielson Visitor Center, and Kantishna’s airstrip is still snow-covered—if showing a trickle of water at the edges.  Work continues each day here, but whether worked or played, the hours bring happiness at again being together and putting everything in shape for the guests and the summer to come.”


Since last week, the lodge has been moved into place on its new foundation and floor, all rotten logs have been removed and fresh ones have been put in. Most of the finish work (walls, trim, desk, stairs) is done in the new staff cabin. The sewing team has completed one quilt and 3 cabins worth of new curtains. All made possible by our intrepid cook, Sara, who has cooked three delicious meals, fresh breads and delectable desserts for 14 days straight!

Check out the video of the lodge being moved:

Moving the Camp Denali Lodge from Camp Denali on Vimeo.

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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.