My friend Elaine and I had the opportunity to visit the Kantishna Roadhouse this past week, a true journey into the wilderness, yet with the comforts of home: home spun, healthy meals, up-to-date firm mattresses on the beds, good shower heads, fresh coffee early in the mornings, and best of all the sweetest and most pleasant service personnel and guides one could ever ask for.
I loved the peace and quiet of the surrounding woods around the cabins and sounds of the rambling brook in front of the roadhouse. Sitting in a rocking chair, soaking in the warm sun, and listening to the birds chirping was just what I wanted to do as I left behind the hectic city of Anchorage, the usual phone calls, and my busy fingers at the computer. Elaine enjoyed the hiking more than I did. We did get a van ride up to Wonder Lake to see the mountain. It’s the closest either of us had been. The sun was shining with just a touch of cloud at the tip. Wow! What a sight.
There were many opportunities to enjoy the heritage of the area but my favorite was listening to Emmet Peters, Jr.’s animated talk about dog mushing. He really knows the dogs. All the talks were excellent… a special one on mountain climbing—also on the history of Kantishna.
We were pretty tired getting started at seven in the morning so napped a bit on our way up to the Denali Park. We were fortunate to get the Park Connection bus which was very comfy with lay-back seats and a restroom on board. The bus going the 90 miles into Kantishna was not as plush but seeing all the wildlife more than made up for it.
You wouldn’t believe what we saw: huge moose and caribou, wolf, bear, muskrat, Dall sheep, ptarmigan, red fox, loons, eagles… all close enough to get pictures. The most exciting were the bears, especially the mama bear and two cubs playing around for 15 to 20 minutes in front of our bus. The mama bear kept trying to break-up the cubs wrestling and finally went off the road. We had to leave the cubs as they tumbled along, next to the bus.
Just before the bear event, our bus had to get out of the way of a red fox walking on the road toward us with a squirrel in its mouth. Even more remarkable were the wolves. Twice at different times, we had to stop to let a wolf walk past us on the road. It’s amazing how the animals, even the little ptarmigans, have no fear of the busses.
Thanks again, Alaska Tour & Travel, for putting together our fantastic, get-away, wilderness package.
Connie R. from Anchorage, AK