Online Version 2013

Ginny's Legacy

On March 8, 2013, Camp Denali founder, Ginny Wood, passed away peacefully at her home in the hills above Fairbanks, Alaska. An outdoorswoman from childhood, horse-packing and skiing turned into flying in 1942 when she joined the Women Airforce Service Pilot training program. Lucky for Alaska, Ginny literally landed in Fairbanks on New Year’s Day 1947, and never really left.

Pilot, entrepreneur, wilderness guide, community builder and conservationist, Ginny’s legacy will be about sustainability and her desire to live lightly on the land. The fact that Camp Denali is not a 300-room hotel is testament to her vision.

So it was to my surprise, upon Ginny’s last visit to Camp Denali in 2008, that we ended up felling trees in front of her cabin. We put her up in a staff cabin built for and named after her daughter, Romany. Ginny never wished to impose. She would always bring her own sleeping bag, even her own pillowcase from home, and sleep on top of the ready-made bed, not wanting us to incur another load of laundry and another bed to make up because of her visit.

Soon after she settled in I met her on the path searching for me, and Simon, my husband. Despite her desire to be an unobtru­sive guest, clearly something was not right. Her greeting went something like this, “I can’t see the mountain!”

Sure enough, over-eager spruce trees and willow bushes had not just crept into the mountain views from the cabin but pretty much occluded them. Together the three of us flagged several of the offenders, Ginny coaching us from her favored perch on the steps of the cabin. While some may have been quick to label Ginny as a tree-hugger for her environmental ethics, in this instance, the view was sacred, not the trees!

Here in Alaska, Ginny Wood was a peerless role model for sustainability, conservation, and community. “Her huge gardens with double moose fence, freezers full of peas, beans, and berries, [her] freshly baked bread, clothes hung to dry in the basement. Next to her example…I learned that each step is meaningful,” reminisced Pam Miller of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center.

In 1960, Ginny joined a handful of concerned Alaska residents to create the first conservation society in Alaska. Together they argued against the damming of the Yukon River and Edward Teller’s grand plan to use a nuclear bomb to blast open a deep port along the arctic coast. For her lifetime of grassroots conservation work, Ginny was the humble recipient of numerous state and national awards.

Some of Ginny’s most eloquent testimony was voiced in her enduring advocacy for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. About the Refuge, she wrote, “the ethical, spiritual, recreation, and educational values of such an area are those one cannot put a price tag on, any more than one can on a sunset, a piece of poetry, a symphony, or a friendship.” We feel privileged to have known Ginny and to be continuing her legacy of sustainability at Camp Denali.

Back to Online Version 2013

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

November 2013

Edited by Jan Tomsen

Illustrations by William D. Berry 

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

The enthusiasm of our staff is what makes our guest experience so memorable! 

General staff positions are available for the 2014 season, as well as the following professional seasonal positions: Dinner Cooks, Skilled Maintenance Workers, and Naturalist Guides.

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

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

If What They Say Is True...

that life

begins at forty

I was premature

My second life -

not second childhood -

no- a whole, real life

began at thirty-eight

when I came here -

here to Alaska -

alien milieu

of wilderness,

strange life-styles,

different ways.

Turned forty-five,

I formalized my adaptation

in a rite-of-passage -

acquisition of

some twenty acres,

strewn with gold.

My summers there,

apprenticeship and mastery,

in part were spent

upon my knees

with chisel, dandelion pick,

trowel and spoons,

in part calf-deep

in icy water,

waders, rubber gloves.

My eyes

turned eagle-sharp to spot

one pin-point fleck

of treasure

to increase my hoard

or, more often, to assist

slow-learner tourists

to a “real” experience...

no salted dirt,

no tall, convenient trough

to stand at comfortably;

success not guaranteed,

but always found.

My forties, fifties, sixties,

early seventies

that second life flowed on.

Three decades plus

wrought changes

in the creek,

the tourists,


All things must end,

(another saying, that),

and so -

I’m on my third life now,

excepting memories.

© Louise Gallop

Used by permission of

Louise Gallop Estate

Space is still availabe at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge for 2014 & 2015! Start planning your Alaska vacation today.