We left in sunshine and traveled the last few hundred yards of pavement and hit the dirt for Cantwell, 100 miles or so away.
This dirt road is probably what the Canada side of the Top of the World highway is like. It's wide, nicely graded, very few corners and spectacular scenery. Oh, and no traffic, either.
Our first pause for a look at a different angle of Deborah, Hess, and Hayes.
Miles roll by at a rapid rate and soon we're at the crossing of the Susitna River.
It's easy to hold about sixty on this road. Only the dust is a bit of a challenge. Here's a dust trail left from a big duallie hauling a quad trailer.
He was rolling about 50. His fillings must be much better seated than mine. I'll take two wheels anytime for that kind of running.
Another great view of the Deborah group.
A little camera like mine can't duplicate the view, you had to be there.
I recall a story of a climb of Deborah by David Roberts back in the sixties. He and his partner did it as a two person team spending a long time on the mountain. To save money they decided they would forego the flight out and hike back to the road (probably the Richardson Highway, I forget). To do this they had to cross one of the big rivers and got hung up for days waiting for the water to subside, running out of food. Eyeballing the distances from the Denali, I'm stunned anyone would try, though in the day, it was the only alternative. If you're going to be brash, best be young.
We had high hopes to see Denali.
It is right there, the guidebook says so. An excuse to come back. Probably many times.
At the end of the Denali Highway at Cantwell, we gas up and the party is basically over. There's a lot more traffic on the Parks Highway (though its relative, it's about as busy as Highway 20 over Rainy Pass in Washington on a weekday). We get about five more miles of dirt riding at 3 mph through road construction outside Willow, eat lunch in Sarah's hometown, and hit Anchorage about five.
We're on an airplane home by eight.
I snapped this little peak somewhere on the inside passage.
All you need is some climbing gear, a little sailboat, and some time. Alaska isn't the only big and empty place for chasing grand schemes.