Ptarmigan Tracks

Online Version 2011

Vol. XXXVI, Fall/Winter 2011

 

Greetings from Denali!

The tradition of recapping the summer's events for our former guests and staff goes back to the first year of our humble beginnings in 1952, when Ginny, Woody and Celia sent out the first edition of the "Tundra Telegram."  We've recently been combing back through those early publications to find the same reacurring themes: each summer the park yields unexpected weather events & challenges, incredible wildlife sightings, fascinating guests, and a group of talented staff who feel priviledged to get to call Denali home for four months.  At the same time, development proposals have also been a constant, whether for large scale accomodations and a gas station in Kantishna, which loomed as a threat in 1965, or resource extraction permits awarded just outside the park boundary in the wintering ground of the Denali caribou, as is currently the case. 

We invite you to read up on what's been happening in Denali, and keep in touch!

Crafting a New Vehicle Management Plan

In August, the National Park Service released a long-awaited Draft Vehicle Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. Current management is based on a 1986 General Management Plan that established a seasonal cap of 10,512 vehicles. Leading up to the plan’s release was a multi-year Road Capacity Study that assessed the impacts of traffic volume on wildlife and visitor experience and began modeling traffic patterns. The final plan will guide vehicle use on the park road for the next 15-20 years.  Read more.

2011 Season Highlights

Project Roundup

The 2011 project season got underway earlier than hoped for, when Carley Dunn called from Parkside Guest House to report that broken plumbing had flooded the house, and that the downstairs ceiling was resting, in pieces, on top of waterlogged beds and carpeting.  Read more.
 

Staff Nuptials

New staff members, Shawn Pummill and Kelly Thornton, tied the knot on August 14th in a small ceremony officiated by Simon at Pika Hut, our beloved octagonal cabin at the top of Camp Ridge. Several staff contributed by carrying firewood, hors d'oeuvres, and floral arrangements inspired by the approaching autumn season.

Long time staff John Kahle and Ellen Horbett met at Camp Denali when John worked on our operations crew and Ellen as our Office Coordinator and host. They were married on October 8th in East Aurora, New York.

Best to all the newlyweds!
 

From the 2011 Special Sightings Notebook

5/14     Wood frogs first heard at Nugget Pond (one week later than recent years.)
7/4       Pink Diapensia blooming on Camp Ridge!
7/15     Several sightings of a young pine marten around Camp Denali.
7/22     Wolf kill on Sable Pass. Wolves seen rolling detached caribou head around like a ball.
7/30     Black bear on hillside below Camp Denali.
8/5       Grizzly observed on a fresh caribou kill at the East Fork River. Wolverine seen on Thorofare: covered the distance to Gravel Mountain in about two minutes!
8/7       Snow fell and stuck around long enough for Camp kids to make angels on the front lawn.
8/19     Young lynx heard calling to parents across the road on Polychrome Pass.
8/24     First Sandhill Cranes heard over Cranberry Ridge.
8/30     Flock of Rusty Blackbirds at Wonder Lake.
9/11     Literally thousands of Sandhill Cranes in migration up Moose Creek valley all afternoon.

August Lodge Guests Witness Life and Death Drama

The wolf was in hot pursuit as it charged after the cow caribou, both animals throwing dust as they bounded up the dry bar of the Teklanika River. We were quickly drawn to the edge of the observation area, hoping for a glimpse of one of nature’s most necessary but seldom-seen acts: the ending of one hard fought life to enable the continuation of another. What ensued was only a couple of minutes long, but created vivid memories for those who were there to witness the kill.  Read more. 

2012 Special Emphasis Series Start with a Bang

Camp Denali Celebrates 60 Years!

 

Former Staff and Special Speakers to gather
June 4-7    

Join us in celebrating the rich history of Camp Denali and the people who have shaped it into the unique destination it is today. We’ll have numerous former staff on site to share stories and images through programs and informal conversations. It will be part reunion, part historical perspective, and a lot of fun to revisit stories from the early days through the present.

Click here to read more about Camp Denali's 2012 Special Emphasis Series.

Proposed Gas Exploration Near Denali National Park

In 2010 the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a license to Usibelli Corporation (the owner of one of the state’s largest coal mines in nearby Healy, AK) to begin exploration for coalbed methane on more than 200,000 acres north and east of Denali National Park. If significant quantities are found the exploration license could be converted to a development lease. Extraction would entail numerous roads and well sites and the use of hydraulic fracturing (known as “fracking”) near residential areas along the Stampede Road and on currently undeveloped land designated by the state for its wildlife habitat and recreational value.   Read more. 

Looking Back... Sixty Years Ago at Camp Denali

“It all started in the fall of 1951 when Celia Hunter came down from Fairbanks to visit Woody and me at McKinley Park. That weekend we flew our Cessna 170 out to the airstrip at Kantishna.
     

A mile and a half from Kantishna we left the road and began climbing up a ridge above Moose Creek. As we ascended, we gained a full panorama of the Alaska range. While we drank in the beauty of the subarctic scenery stretching before us, The Idea began to take form.  Read more.

Local Kantishna Business Sold

The recent sale of nearby Denali Backcountry Lodge could be a significant portent for Kantishna, and Denali National Park. The new owner, VIAD, is an international corporation whose diverse operations include marketing, tourism, transportation, and related visitor services in the Canadian Rockies, and in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park where they are both an independent operator and also a park concessioner. This acquisition puts them in an obvious position to compete with Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture for the next Transportation Services concession for Denali.   Read more. 

New Book to be Published on Camp Denali Founder

Boots, Bikes, and Bombers: Adventures of Alaska Conservationist Ginny Hill Wood edited by Karen Brewster is due to be released by the University of Alaska Press in early 2012. It is an innovative and collaborative life history of Virginia "Ginny" Hill Wood, co-founder of Camp Denali and a pioneering Alaska conservationist and outdoorswoman. Born in 1917, Wood served as a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot during World War II. Eventually settling in Fairbanks, she co-owned and operated Camp Denali for 25 years and helped start the Alaska Conservation Society, the state’s first environmental organization. Boots, Bikes, and Bombers is a valuable contribution to the history of Alaska and is a testament to the joys of living a life full of passion and adventure.
 

2011 Camp Denali & North Face Lodge Staff

MJ AFT ’06-’11 (Denali National Park, AK); ALEX AMBROS ’06-’08, ’11 (Hartland, VT); MARSHALL AMBROS ’01, ’02, ’05-’08, ’11 (Hartland, VT); BOB AUSTIN ’10, ’11 (Northampton, MA); ANNE BEAULAURIER ’02-’11 (Denali National Park, AK); MARIA BERGER & MAGGIE WHITAKER ’97-’11 (Fairbanks, AK); HANNAH BERRY ’10, ’11 (Gustavus, AK); SARAH BIERSCHWALE ’11 (Gardiner, MT); PIERRE-LUC BOUCHER ’11 (Québec City, Québec); SARAH BUSH ’11 (Knoxville, TN); TATE BUSHELL ’11 (Allendale, NJ); MATT CAHILL ’09-’11 (Amherst, NH)... Read more.

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

Vol. XXXIX
November 2014

Edited by Jan Tomsen

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

info@campdenali.com
www.campdenali.com
www.parksideanchorage.com

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.

David Sibley, renowned Ornithologist, Author and Illustrator has just been added to our Special Emphasis Series

We have a very exciting lineup for 2015!