Ptarmigan Tracks

Online Version 2012

Vol. XXXVII, Winter 2012

Sixty years ago, Camp Denali founder Ginny Wood composed the very first issue of this, our annual newsletter.  Titled Tundra Telegram, it was hand-cranked by co-founder, Celia Hunter, on a lead-type printing press in their Fairbanks log cabin. More recently, when newsletter-time came around, we would have full-day “mailing parties”. With promises of good food and company, we would lure in a few kind neighbors and proceed to stuff, label, seal and stamp several thousand envelopes with commercially-printed newsletters.  Nowadays, with modern opportunities to cut down on paper usage, we can make it digital. What used to be a full day’s letter-press or mailing campaign now happens with a couple mouse clicks, though we do still produce a limited paper edition for those that request it.  One wonders what form all this will take in the next five to ten years!

Although the production process keeps evolving, the opportunity to document and reflect on the summer’s highlights is always a fun and much-anticipated exercise. We hope this year’s installment rekindles fond memories of your own time at Camp Denali and North Face Lodge. 

Warmly,

Simon and Jenna Hamm

 

Camp Denali Celebrates 60 Years

This summer marked Camp Denali’s 60th season. While 60 years is hardly considered history in many parts of the country, here in the Last Frontier, it is. We kicked off this anniversary by luring 28 former staff and friends to join our first session’s guests for a reunion and celebration. Former staff delighted in being able to pack their sack lunches after breakfast and be out hiking in the park until dinnertime, eating delicious dinners and not having to wash the dishes! But most of all the reunion highlighted how the lifestyle at Camp Denali and North Face Lodge is just as meaningful as the opportunity to live in this incredible place. Read more

2012 Highlights

 

Project Roundup

Everyone knows that milestone birthdays beget more and more, er, inquisitive medical screenings, but who knew that the same goes for wilderness lodges? On our 60th the facilities were poked, prodded and made to turn and cough by everyone from OSHA to the fire marshal to the drinking water folks! Fortunately we emerged with a good bill of health and, hopefully, a reprieve until the next major birthday! Read more

Staff Transitions

This year was the final full season for two longtime staff members. Brian McCormick began at the lodges in 1995. During his tenure he worked as a naturalist guide, driver, host, and bus trainer. Read more

Year Round Staff Visit Camp Denali in Winter

What is it like here in the winter?” ask many summer visitors to Camp Denali and North Face Lodge. I was able to find out for myself this past March when Simon and Jenna sprang us from our winter office at the park entrance for a week at our lodges in the heart of the park. Read more

Special Sightings Notebook

5/13    With a skim of ice still on Nugget Pond, spring's first chorus of wood frogs is heard croaking.

6/24    Grizzly bear chased a moose calf near Lake Creek staff cabin.

6/25    Wolverine, followed by a lynx, walked in front of our buses in Igloo canyon!

7/8    Two peregrine falcons dispatched a harlequin duck near Mile 88 right in front of our bus.

8/9    First sandhill cranes of autumn (two weeks earlier than last year).

8/18    Four wolves walked partway up Camp Denali's driveway, then filtered through the spruce trees and headed up the ridge.

9/6    Thousands of cranes fly out from the mists of the Wonder Lake valley.

9/12    Juvenile brown-headed cowbird near North Face Lodge.

9/22    After a week of rain, the Nenana River at the park entrance reached its highest recorded water level.

2013 Special Emphasis Series

 

Dan O'Neill, Acclaimed Author

July 22-25 (at Camp Denali) & July 26-28 (at North Face Lodge)

Dan O'Neill moved to Alaska in 1975 and has worked construction, built cabins, hunted, fished, and ran dogs. His first program will be “The Firecracker Boys:  The Story of Project Chariot and the roots of Environmentalism.” In 1958, Father of the H-bomb, Edward Teller, unveiled his plan to use nuclear bombs to create a harbor on the northwest coast of Alaska. It is the story of how a small group of people thwarted Teller and sparked an era of environmental awareness. The second talk, “A Land Gone Lonesome,” will present slides documenting the subsistence life  along the Yukon River, examinine the difficulties of managing wilderness lands that have, for thousands of years, included people.   

Click here to read more about Camp Denali and North Face Lodge's 2013 Special Emphasis Series 

Denali News

 

Denali Vehicle Management Plan Approved

On October 5th, a plan was approved that will guide vehicle use on the park road for the next 20 years. Four years in the making and 800 public comments later, the new plan dispensed with the longstanding vehicle cap of 10, 512 trips per year. Instead, a daily limit of 160 vehicles was created which represents a significant increase from current levels. Park managers will control the number, timing and behavior of vehicles in order to maintain standards for visitor experience and to protect wildlife. We remain concerned about how the park service will fund the monitoring efforts required by the plan and how increased bus traffic in the core of the park will affect wildlife.

Denali Welcomes New Superintendent Don Striker

Denali National Park will be welcoming a new superintendent in January. Don Striker and his wife, Gretchen, will be arriving from West Virginia where Striker has spent the last five years as superintendent of New River Gorge National River. He brings a background in parks, business and resource management, and youth and community outreach. He replaces outgoing Superintendent Paul Anderson.

Denali Loses a Beloved Elder

Sixty-four-year Denali resident and one who was instrumental in enabling Camp Denali’s founders, William “Bill” Nancarrow passed away April 15th at the age of 91 at his homestead near the park entrance. Bill began his career with the National Park Service as Denali’s first naturalist in 1951 and he retired as the Buildings & Utilities Foreman in 1981. Bill crafted two homes and several outbuildings with logs he felled and lumber he made at his own sawmill at his homestead. He met his wife, Ree, while building the Nunatak cabin at Camp Denali. Ree, a nationally-known fiber artist, created the quilt, Seasons of Denali, which hangs at the Eielson Visitor Center. Bill was an anchor in the Denali community, always generous with his time, wisdom, and good humor. He will be dearly missed and always remembered.

Just for Fun

On September 7th the National Park Service unveiled a larger-than-life-size statue of a reclining grizzly bear in front of the Denali Visitor Center at the park entrance. The statue is an enlargement of an original casting from artist Bill Berry, who worked at Camp Denali along with his wife Liz for many years. It was Camp Denali owener, Wally Cole, who nurtured the idea of the statue from development to installation. We are all pleased that current staff member and granddaughter of Bill, Hannah Berry, was also present for the statue's unveiling. 

Looking Back...

Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of Operating North Face Lodge

 

When we purchased Camp Denali from its founders, we bought more than a business. We inherited a trust to live lightly with the land, so that park visitors could experience simple living without destroying the wilderness setting they had come to explore. So, when we acquired North Face Lodge, it was not because we wanted to expand. Read more. 

Camp Denali and North Face Lodge 2012 Staff

 

ALEX AMBROS ’06-’08, ’11, '12 (Hartland, VT); MARSHALL AMBROS ’01, ’02, ’05-’08, ’11, '12 (Hartland, VT); BOB AUSTIN ’10-'12 (Northampton, MA); ANNE BEAULAURIER ’02-’12 (Denali National Park, AK); LAURA BEEBE ’12 (Craftsbury Common, VT). 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!