Denali Dispatch

It is our pleasure to present Dispatches, a journal of the goings on at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge.


Written by members of our staff, Dispatches is an opportunity to peek into life in Denali: wildlife sightings, Denali National Park issues, recipes from our kitchens, and insights into the guest experience at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge. Dispatches will carry on through the winter, when we hope to share stories of snowy ski adventures, deep cold, and the events of a small Alaskan community.


A Summer of Love

February 08, 2016

Each year Camp Denali and North Face Lodge’s staff make their way to Denali National Park to embark upon a summer of work and play. Roughly 50 staff members come together and form a community based on mutual respect for, and enjoyment of, remote and beautiful places. Alpenglow is on the skyline and birds are belting out their mating tunes. With a setting like this, what else could follow but love?


It would be too idealistic, even for us, to assume that all loves found in Denali are life-long. Challenges abound. For our staff, who live in a small community, privacy is at a minimum as roommates come standard. If a relationship turns south, you are guaranteed to run into your lost love interest, again, and again. With hurtles like these it may be easy to give up on love all together, but love is a hearty beast. It waxes and wanes and grows in all manner of places and intensities. Some might even compare previous staff relationships to our wildlife within the park. Two words.  Seasonal. Monogamy. On a naturalist note our state bird, the willow ptarmigan, also practices this style of love! However you color our love, be it cyclical or eternal, this season certainly saw its fair share of love and commitment for our staff. 2015. The summer of love.


Marianne, one of our naturalist guides, and Sky, chef extraordinaire, were the first of our staff to be claimed by love in 2015. In the spirit of honesty they were an item long before Denali came into the picture, but what better way to plan a wedding than to head to a remote place where there is no internet, and phone calls are made using calling cards? Now that is commitment! The epitome of calm, Marianne and Sky were married this fall in Maine. Marianne wore her hiking boots while Sky smiled from ear to ear.


Next to be carried away by love was Jan, one of our year-round staff members, and Austin, who works for Denali National Park. If you are starting to draw comparisons to the Capulets and Montagues, stop right there! Though these two were separated by distance during the summer, in the end love was triumphant! Austin proposed amongst a patch of fireweed that overlooked Denali in what could only be called a photographer's dream. In the end, love could not be denied nor would it be postponed. Jan and Austin eloped in the fall and were married amongst the first snowfall of the season.


As the summer wore on and colors changed, congratulations and well wishes were in the air. Love is infectious after all. To round out our summer of love Chris and Hannah were the last to bow before its call. As the best things are stereotypically saved for last, Chris waited as long as possible to act upon the ring that was in his pocket. On the very last day of the season, as we waved goodbye to our final guests, Chris took Hannah on a walk. He popped ‘the question’ while they looked out upon the Nenana River. Smiles abounded.


 Over the years, each season love has returned with vigor to Denalii, as if it never left. While we do not hire staff based on relationship status, Camp Denali and North Face Lodge have seen their fair share of budding loves and lasting commitments over their 60 plus years of operation. Wedding bouquets have been gathered from ridge-tops and fireweed has graced the top of wedding cakes. We have seen engagements where the only ring given was a strand of grass looped around a fourth finger. Vows have been exchanged surrounded by friends that, throughout the course of the summer, became family.  During my time working in Denali I have come to realize what a truly magical place Alaska is. Love will find a way even in a place where the running joke is "The goods are odd but the odds are good!" With a saying like that, I am certainly happy that this year the odds were in my favor.

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