Day 10 7/16/12 5435 miles on the odometer. Time for bus tour #2.
The rain continued off and on throughout the night and into the morning. Although i had a tarp over my tent, the sides still got wet and each end of my sleeping bag was wet. I hung my jacket under a thick spruce tree to keep it out of the rain. It stayed fairly dry. I got up early at 7am to get going. Still a bit disgruntled about the park's lack of selfregistration for camp sites. Good thing they didnt do a check before i left. No $12 camp fee from me!
I pushed the bike about 250 yards up a slight grade out of the campground to the road. People get grumpy hearing my nearly straightpiped 650 going early in the day. The park only allows tourists to drive in about 15 miles into the park. The rest of the 90 mile dirt road is open for bus tours however, and people were waiting at the road for a bus to pick them up. I rode in to the visitor center and signed up for the 8hr tour through most of the park. It didnt leave until 9am, so i had time for breakfast and a walk. I had to purchase food for lunch since there wasnt anywhere to really eat along the way. The door at the visitor center was open and some type of small bird(finch?) was hopping around various rooms eating crumbs off the floor.
We left the visitor center in an old schoolbus with about 20 people onboard. Not too many, i had my own seat to myself. The tour guide was a man by the name of Wayne Iverson. He was a former train-hopping hobo who wrote a book Hobo Sapien, which was described a book where 'Garrison Keillor meets Jack Kerouac meets Mahatma Gandhi'. I read through a little of it while we were driving. I liked what i read and was going to get a copy of it, but havent got around to it yet.
Along the way we saw 4 grizzly bears, about 30 Dall sheep, a lynx, some caribou, and various other small critters. One herd of Dall sheep was about 27 strong! Not something you see everyday, thats for sure. The guide told us that once during a tour he saw a pair of golden eagles attacking a wolverine. The wolverine must have gotten too close to the eagle nest, and they were dive bombing him as he lay on his back swatting at them. Now there is a once in a lifetime event. The other buses would see various critters and the drivers would give each other hand signals as they drove by to relay what was ahead. Needless to say, we stopped quite often during the 9 hour tour. I over heard another man on the bus mentioned North Dakota, wherei grew up, so i asked him if that was where he was from. He told me that indeed he was from Devils Lake, ND, a mere 3 hours from my beloved childhood home. He was about 22 and worked in si resorts in the winter and was working at a hotel by the park this summer. We talked about the old country, snowboarding, and various aspects of Alaska.
Much to my dismay, the sky was rather cloudy, blocking any view of Mount McKinley above 7000 feet elevation. The mountain is only visible about 30% of the time i later learned. After the tour was over i took the tarp off my motorcycle, for it sprinkled off and on all day. I was itching to hit the road by now, so off i went after getting a pic in front of the park sign. I rode for about 2 hours south before stopping for gas at Trapper Creek. They were shutting down the grill at 9pm, so i just barely missed dinner. I had to buy some snacks at another gas station. But for some reason i went back to the first one to see if they had better snacks, and while i was there i inquired about the cabins outside. The gal at the counter told me they were $50 and they had 1 left. I didnt even have to think about that one. After sleeping in a soggy tent and having wet clothes, a bed inside sounded real good. Plus only $50 instead of paying $170 for my last hotel room was practically a steal.
mr bird in the visitor center
Who is hiding?
27 Dall sheep
Dont sit here.
A pulloff south of Denali. That may or may not be McKinley in the background.
139 miles today.