Our adventures were over far too quickly in Denali National Park.  We spent a day on a bus; we spent a day on the trails.  Certainly, I preferred the latter to the former, but they were both an excellent way to experience this vast park.  Next, we were gearing up for bears!

But first, we had one more day on the train.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Between dropping off our rental car and departing for Anchorage, we had a lot of time to kill.  So as any good photographer would, I killed it with shooting the local chipmunk, enticing it closer with stale popcorn.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I was also intrigued by the unusually sparkly ground.  Upon closer inspection, I was surprised to see it was completely sprinkled with bits of rounded glass.  The pieces were on top of and permeating the pavement.  It was fascinating, yet I have no idea what it’s doing there.  Recycling, perhaps?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Like the trip up, the ride back down was stunningly beautiful.  Unlike the trip up, I didn’t spend nearly as much time photographing.  I caught most of it on the way up, and after a long day hiking the day before (and with my sleep schedule a bit messed up from the unusual daylight), I was tired.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Besides, we were having too much fun playing round after round after round of Hearts.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I did manage to snap some of the passing landscapes, though (how could I not?), and I spent a lot of time in the car with the viewing dome.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The scenery never ceased to amaze.  It wasn’t as magically misty as it was the way up, but it was still breathtaking.  I just can’t get over how beautiful that state is.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

We survived the trip without another moon show (thankfully), though we did pass a gentleman sitting beside the tracks imploring for the next love of his life.  At least the locals keep it entertaining!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

We also got a brief surprise.  Our time in Denali National Park was mostly clouded in, so we sadly missed the magnificence of The Great One.  However, several hours into our train ride, our conductor announced we could catch a distant glimpse of the renowned peak.  As all of the passengers excitedly flocked to the right side of the train, pressing their noses to the glass, I dashed to the coveted open space between the cars.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Sadly, I had the wrong lens on my camera at the time, so I couldn’t zoom as much as I’d have liked.  Looking in the indicated direction, I also couldn’t see anything.  Disappointed, I scanned the horizon, but all I could see were clouds.  It took someone pointing it out (just right of center).

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

What I thought was a wall of clouds actually dissolved into the peak of this massive mountain.  I didn’t think to look above the clouds!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Our trip north finally complete, we said goodbye to one friend who was joining us only for the Denali portion, and we said hello to another who came just for the backpacking (one literally flew out on the plane on which the other had just arrived).  We shifted our gear from suitcases to packs and crashed for the long day ahead.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Next stop: the Alaskan bush!


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