Ptarmigan Tracks

Online Version 2014

Vol. XXXIX, Winter 2014


Season's Greetings!

It is always a highlight of the year to reflect on the summer and share those reflections with our friends from all over the world. The 2014 season brought many exciting moments and projects. We hope this newsletter will evoke fond memories of your time at Camp Denali and North Face Lodge. Perhaps you will want to visit us again or share our special place with friends and family.

A Summer of Rain

While only the 22nd coolest and the 17th wettest in Denali's 88-year record, this summer will be remembered for a record-breaking, single rainfall event in June. Sometime between midnight and 7:00 a.m. on June 27, 3.27 inches of rain fell squarely on the Wonder Lake area and Kantishna Hills. Intense rain events such as this are unusual for us. By morning, it was, as Coleridge wrote, "water, water every where."

The deluge delivered enough rain to bring area creeks to flood stage. 

Read More

2014 Project Roundup

Whatever operational plans we had for 2014, Mother Nature had plans of her own in store. The washouts from record-breaking rainfall in late June dictated that a lot of time and energy got diverted to driveway and trail repair. That anything else also got accomplished is really a testament to the wonderful operations crew we had this summer.

A few notable achievements included the renovation of the Riffles building and bathrooms, the installation of a new 20K generator, and the completion of a south-facing deck on the lodge, all at Camp Denali.

Read More

From the Special Sightings Notebook

5/23 Possibly the earliest date for the ice to be all out on Wonder Lake!

6/21 Alpine azaleas so bountiful in the high passes that the tundra blushes pink!

6/27 3.3 inches of rain fall overnight, causing washouts of the Park Road in three locations.

7/6 Loon family at Wonder Lake successfully hatches two chicks.

7/27 A large bull moose and a bull caribou face off at north end  of Wonder Lake.

8/13 Stilt Sandpiper observed at Best Dam Pond, a first record  for Denali National Park.

8/21 First Sandhill Cranes calling and circling overhead.

9/2 All-day snowstorm left 2" on the ground at the lodges and 9" at Eielson Visitor's Center.

A Winter Retreat to the South...Side

This March, “fun-hog” month as it's locally known, we pulled off a second-annual winter retreat for our year-round staff. Destination: The Don Sheldon Mountain House, a hut on a 5-acre, private in-holding smack dab in the heart of the Alaska Range. Perched on a rock outcrop at 6000 feet, in a cul-de-sac of the Ruth Glacier, the hut is 20 miles from the south summit of Denali. Built in 1966 by pioneer mountain pilot, Don Sheldon, it is now a rentable base camp for mountaineers, photographers, skiers, and wilderness lovers.

Read More

2015 Special Emphasis Series

David Sibley began seriously watching and drawing birds in 1969, at age seven. Decades of study and leading bird watching tours throughout North America have culminated in his multiple publications of the widely popular Sibley Field Guides to birds, bird behavior and trees.

Birding, like any nature study, is all about observation, and real observation involves more than just watching. David is looking forward to exploring the birds and the environment of Denali, and hopes that all participants, birders and non-birders, will come away with heightened curiosity, and a deeper understanding of the natural world. Whether a novice or experienced birder, grab your Sibley and join David in the tundra for spring birding in Denali.

Read More

Unbearable Hunting Practices

Unlike any national park in the Lower 48, sport hunting is allowed throughout 20 million acres of National Park Service land in Alaska. How come? Because of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act's (ANILCA) creation of "national preserves." As ANILCA transformed the map of Alaska into shades of green, one of many compromises made with Alaskans was the allowance of traditional sport hunting on preserves.

The rub is that the State of Alaska’s wildlife policies have been at odds with national parks' policies. The State manages wildlife for "sustained yield," defined as “the achievement and maintenance in perpetuity of the ability to support a high level of human harvest of game.” But national parks exist for the protection of wildlife. Manipulation of wildlife is expressly prohibited in parks and preserves.

Read More

Looking Back...Sixty Years Ago in Denali

Sixty years ago this May, my parents, Liz and Bill Berry, made their first trip to Alaska and Camp Denali. Though the event may be recorded in one of my parents’ journals of “critter” sightings (they both diligently noted dates, times, and locations on every moving thing they spotted), I cannot recollect any first impressions they may have told me of their first climb up the hill to Camp Denali. I do know that Camp would be the window through which they viewed Alaska and its wildlife over the remainder of their lives. For them, Camp Denali and all that it represented was the perfect conduit to introduce people to Alaska's natural beauty.

Read More

Camp Denali & North Face Lodge Staff

THEO Ambros ’90-’93, ’13, ’14 Hartland, VT

MARK ARDAGNA ’14 South Lake Tahoe, CA


HANNAH BERRY ’10-’13 Gustavus, AK

KC BOEHLY ’09-’10, ’13, ’14 Seattle, WA

Read More

The Newsletter of
Camp Denali,
North Face Lodge,
& Parkside Guest House

November 2014

Edited by Jan Tomsen

P.O. Box 67
Denali National Park, AK 99755
(907) 683-2290

The collective knowledge, talent, and warm hospitality of our staff are what make our guest experience so memorable.

General staff positions are available for the 2015 season, as well as professional-seasonal positions.

Registered Nurses and EMTs are encouraged to apply for any of our positions.

If you know of someone who would be a good fit in our community, encourage him or her to view the employment pages of our website.

Celebrating 50 years of the Wilderness Act

In 1964, the Wilderness Act was signed into law. At the time it protected over nine million acres of federal land according to rigorous standards that represent the highest level of federal land protection in the United States. Fifty years later, 109.5 million acres have Wilderness designation, 52% of those in Alaska, including Denali's original, two million-acre core.

For five days in July 1963, the Executive Council of The Wilderness Society held their annual meeting at Camp Denali. In attendance was a truly impressive list of people well-known for their pioneering work in land and wildlife conservation: Olaus and Margaret Murie, Adolf and Louise Murie, Howard Zahniser, and Sigurd Olson, among others. In the Tundra Telegram from that year Ginny describes what a good show the park put on for the group:

The weather cooperated and so did the caribou migration. A highlight of the meeting was the Friday trip to Eielson Visitor's Center, from which point hikers scattered in all directions, following caribou bands or simply exploring the canyons, ridges, and the Thorofare River bar.

What is the difference between Camp Denali and North Face Lodge?

Read our FAQ page to find out!