Alaska 2008

Healy, AK
Denali National Park

11 July 2008

Town Information

Denali National Park Information

Park Map

Photographs and Commentary
Click on pictures to enlarge

There comes a time when you have to smell the laundry... so we smelled it and washed it. Living in an RV is certainly different than living in a stationary home. However, there are certain things that have to be done on a regular schedule just like they do at home. So since our laundry hamper was full, we did the laundry. While Susie was doing the laundry, I cleaned up inside the trailer and did something you don't do at home... clean out the waste holding tanks. I will spare you the description of what is in the tanks and how they are cleaned. We had planned to do this cleaning today and the fact that the weather was miserable this morning made it more palatable.

Our plan was to go back to Denali National Park this afternoon and hike a trail along the Savage River. The trail, which we had hiked in 2005, is an easy trail that leads from the Park Road at the furthest point you can drive without a permit. The weather in the campground was improving when we left and we figured that, like yesterday, the weather in the park would be better. As we drove the Park Road the skies were gray and there was a light mist in the air. When we got to Savage River parking area, it was, in a word, raw. We started hiking in from the road on what is a loop trail that goes into the valley on one bank of the river and returns on the other bank. We never made it to the half way point and turned around. The only way that I can describe the scenery is to tell you there were only three colors showing, gray in the sky and water and green and brown for the land. The only wildlife we saw were a few gulls. The contrast with yesterday's weather and animal sightings was huge.To us, there was no point in continuing so we returned to the campground. The sun broke through the clouds in late afternoon, but we had scheduled a tour of Jeff King's sled dog kennel for this evening so we didn't even consider going back to Denali Park.

Susie has been interested in the Iditarod Dog Sled race for several years. She had worked with kids in her school on a program where they followed the race, maintained charts of musher progress and learned about the geography of Alaska in the process. Jeff King is recognized as the winningest musher in the world. His homestead and kennel are just a few miles south of Denali National Park. We went on a tour of the kennels this evening. It was quite an interesting evening learning how the dogs are bred and trained and some insight into the Iditarod race itself. At the end Jeff had a question and answer session that provided more information about a race spread over 1,000 miles and anywhere from nine to eighteen days under some of the most extreme conditions imaginable.


When you first arrive at the homestead, they bring out a bunch of husky puppies for the guests to hold. They told us that they do this to help the puppies become more social.

Sam and husky pup

They made me hold the pup

Susie and husky pup

Susie couldn't wait to hold a pup

Susie, Sam and husky pup

Susie, Nichole and pup

Nicole works for Jeff King as a summer tour guide and attends the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She had worked for King on a full time basis as a handler, a job that pays only room and board because she was essentially an apprentice.

Friendly dog

It is quite obvious that the dogs like human interaction

Dogs getting ready for a practice run

In the summer the dogs get a practice run pulling an ATV. The engine is
running and the driver, in this case Jeff King's oldest daughter Cali, controls
the speed by either accelerating the ATV or applying the breaks. These dogs want to run, and if the speed was not controlled, they would overheat in this weather.

Dog Carousel

Another way to train the dogs is on this carousel. The dog in the doghouse mounted on the carousel is a retired racing dog that is encouraging the younger dogs to run. The carousel speed can be controlled remotely to keep the dogs from running too hard.

Susie and Jeff King

Susie and Jeff King

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