Ptarmigan Tracks

Online Version 2009

Vol. XXXIV, Fall/Winter 2009


Winter is upon us in Denali, giving us a chance to catch our breath from the busy summer and reflect upon another successful season behind us.  As we have traditionally done each fall, we invite you, whether a recent visitor or one from decades past, to learn about what’s going on at Camp Denali, North Face Lodge, Parkside Guest House, and Denali National Park through our Ptarmigan Tracks newsletter.  We hope this finds you enjoying the onset of winter (or summer for those guests and staff south of the equator!) in your region and look forward to meeting you on the tundra again soon.

Stalwart Travelers to the Rescue!

The lead-up to the 2009 season could almost be described as the perfect storm of Alaska tourism. Amid daily reports of a worsening global economic crisis, the news last spring was punctuated with panicked updates about swine-flu and images of travelers in airports clutching particle respirators. As if things weren’t looking quite dire enough, in March, Redoubt Volcano southwest of Anchorage began hurtling ash plumes directly into the flight-path of Alaska-bound passenger planes. As the phones started to ring with cancellations, we could only tighten our belts and wonder how it would all play out.

In the end, we can truly say that 2009 was a success. While not the most robust on record, it was a far sight better than early projections. For this, we wish to extend our sincere thanks to all the inveterate travelers who were able and willing to fill our books despite the season’s uncertainties. Many that did visit also discovered that less-crowded attractions were part of their reward.

In Memory of Gordon Haber

Noted wolf biologist and advocate for wolf protection, Gordon Haber, died in a plane crash on October 14, 2009, while conducting an aerial survey of the East Fork wolf pack in Denali National Park. Haber began studying Denali’s wolves in 1966 and made them his life’s work, amassing countless observations and photographs of wolf behavior. With his death, Alaskans have lost a staunch opponent of the state’s predator control policy and the Denali community a dedicated scientist and neighbor. Haber’s reports and web log entries can be read at

Days Off in Denali: Exploits in the Park

Many of our intrepid staff took advantage of their surroundings to embark on a variety of adventures this summer. In June, Scott Peters summitted Scott Peak, a steep, permanently snow-covered 8,800-footer. He and Tiernan Martin also ran a marathon on the Park Road, from Eielson Visitor Center back ‘home’ to Camp Denali, quenched en route by a passing rain shower. In the latter part of summer, fourteen separate staff members made their way to McGonagall Pass, the traditional approach for early climbing attempts on Denali. Over the course of a month, the McGonagall hiking parties saw the pass in myriad moods—rainy, snowy, foggy, and bluebird clear!

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2009 Season Highlights

April Getaway to the Ruth

As a precursor to the summer’s activity, Simon, Jenna, and Danika joined Amanda Smith (’07,’08) and Drew McCarthy (’07-’09) on an outing to the Ruth Glacier on the southeast side of Denali. They flew with Paul Roderick of Talkeetna Air Taxi for four days of telemark skiing, glacier touring, and snowshoeing, which Danika (age 2) demonstrates at right. Nights were spent in the cozy shelter of the Don Sheldon Mountain House, a hexagonal hut perched on a nunatak in the Ruth Amphitheater.

Debut of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

By now, many National Park aficionados have seen Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan’s most recent PBS collaboration, which aired in late September. The series was much anticipated for its stunning filmography and for enlivening the human story behind the creation of our park lands. We also looked forward to the debut, as Burns and Duncan stayed at Camp Denali while filming in Denali, and Wally and Jerryne Cole served as Program Advisors to the project. Award-winning author and documentary filmmaker Dayton Duncan will join us as a resource leader in our 2010 Special Emphasis Series.

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Current Issues Facing Denali

Mile 73-86 Road Rehabilitation Project:

Those who have traveled the length of the Denali Park Road understand its telescopic nature first hand. The road is widest at its origin at the park entrance but narrows as it progresses deeper into the park. The first 15 miles of pavement give way to more than 80 miles of winding gravel road. The National Park Service is challenged with maintaining road safety while obeying the mandates of the road character definition in the Final Entrance Area and Road Corridor Plan EIS of 1997, which gives specific details of road structure and points to the role that the road plays in the visitor experience.

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Staff Comings and Goings

Our staff is a talented and ambitious bunch of folks, so it is no wonder they sometimes leave the lodges for other pursuits. This summer, Housekeeping Coordinator Laura Alexander was accepted to the Peace Corps for volunteer work in Southeast Asia. Her cheerfulness, hard work, and companionship will be missed around the lodges. Amanda Solonika, who came onboard in September, will return next year as our new Housekeeping Coordinator. Amanda has worked in housekeeping around the U.S. and in Antarctica.

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Special Sightings and Natural History Notes

Sunny days were in abundance this summer, and though we didn’t hear many complaints, some days were downright hot! The warm, dry weather had certain perks—lingering in Nugget Pond, for instance—and disadvantages. Smoke from nearby wildfires briefly blocked our mountain views in late July. Staff took advantage of the warm weather with ambitious hiking (more on those adventures here), as well as swimming, canoe water polo, and inner-tubing forays down Moose Creek.

Lest we remember summer 2009 for only its mild, cloudless days, a snow storm rolled through on September 21, wrapping up summer and reminding us that weather can change on a dime here in the Alaska Range. The closing crew will remember the storm particularly well, as they had to use chains to drive through the snow it dumped on the road in order to get out of the park!

5/13    Red Fox delivered a freshly caught Ptarmigan to two kits at Polychrome Pass.
5/24    White Wolf seen across the road from North Face Lodge.

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Looking Back...

Notable Excerpts from the Tundra Telegram and Ptarmigan Tracks


1959  On January 3, the Alaska Statehood Act (signed in July, 1958 by President Eisenhower) officially named Alaska the 49th state. Russia sold Alaska in 1867 for $7,200,000, roughly 2 cents per acre, and it was admitted as a territory in 1912.

Unlike 2009, 1959 was a summer of cool and wet weather. Celia wrote, “If you weren’t at Camp during the middle two weeks of June, the first half of August, or the second week of September, you missed summer altogether.” Nevertheless, Ginny found time to do reconnaissance work for potential day hiking destinations in the park.  As Celia explained it, one should “never trust her ‘short cuts’ home unless you are especially interested in mountain sheep.”

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2009 Camp Denali and North Face Lodge Staff

MJ AFT ’06 -’09 (Denali National Park, AK); LAURA ALEXANDER ’08, ’09 (Corvallis, OR); STACIE ANDERSON ’09 (Prescott, AZ); ANNE BEAULAURIER ’02 -’09 (Denali National Park, AK); KC BOEHLY ’09 (Salt Lake City, UT); MATT CAHILL ’09 (Amherst, NH); JILL CARTER ’09 (Gloucester, MA); LINDSEY CARTER ’09 (Panton, VT); LINDSAY CHRONISTER ’08, ’09 (Seattle, WA); WALLACE & JERRYNE COLE (Denali National Park, AK); DIANE CURRAN ’09 (Bangor, ME);

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

December 2015

Edited by Teresa Floberg

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.


Personnel Manager

Facilities Manager

Executive Chef

Naturalist Guides

General staff positions are also available for the 2015 season.

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.

In Loving Memory

Our summer season ended with deep sadness when staff member KC Boehly died in a backcountry drowning accident on August 27.  KC was a cook at Camp Denali and North Face Lodge for five summers and studied business at the University of Washington in the off-season.  A calm, confident presence in the kitchen, KC also delivered wicked wit with affection.  One friend observed, “No one’s eyes twinkled like KC’s.”  She was a ringleader in our intimate community, finding any reason to celebrate and play hostess extraordinaire.  It is hard to remember her with anything but her megawatt smile.  KC was beloved by all, welcoming everyone into her company.

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

Read our FAQ page to find out more!