The Reed Family's Travel Adventures
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Images Copyright 2001-2010 - Eric Reed

Denali – Day One


The morning after our day in Fairbanks we got up early and took the train up to Denali National Park (used to be Mt. McKinley but they have reverted the name back to the native version).  I’ll detail the train rides in another post.  We arrived at the lodge right near the park entrance at about noon and took off on our first adventure at 2:00.  It turned out to be a little more adventure than planned, too…

We took a jet boat tour up the river that ran by our lodge to hopefully see some wildlife and take in the wilderness scenery.  The plan was to jet up the river a few miles, then turn around and come back down a little further the other direction.  Everything was going great until it came to turn around.  This maneuver is normally tricky as the river is flowing very fast (about 12 knots), is only about 40 feet wide (our boat was 25 feet long) and is littered with rocks projecting up here and there.  Our captain assured us he was adept at this process and that our twin-engine jet boat could just about rotate on it’s axis if you knew how to drive it.

All that is fine and dandy until our guide and captain discovered that, somewhere along the ride up the river, the cable that operates the thrust-reverser on one of the engines broke.  He discovered this after attempting the turn about three times and then, carefully, allowing us to beach along the river’s edge (remember, it’s flowing at 12 knots) where he could plunge his hands into the 36 degree water to discover what the issue was.

So, he got on the radio and got a smaller boat to come up from the launch point and ferry us back to the start.  Our trip was cut short and we didn’t really see much wildlife, but we did have an adventure!  Our captain assured us he would have a bigger one as there was no way to get the boat home without fixing the cable.  For that, he would have to don his dry-suit and get in the icy water to do the repair.  Something he figured would occupy the next several hours of his life.

We got back to the launch and the lodge just fine and in time to rest just a bit before we took in the old-time dinner show and learned about the first people to climb to the summit of “the great one”.  It was goofy and entertaining and fun.


1 comment

1 Mom { 07.12.10 at 2:39 pm }

And the kids did a little gold panning, fed the reindeer and I think we all ate really good cinamon sticks and drank lemonade. It just wasn’t what we were supposed to do but adventure just the same.