By the time we left the Denali Highway, the brilliant autumn sunshine had given way to drizzle. We continued down the Parks Highway with somewhat subdued spirits and limited views.
Louis, who has a great fondness for mountains and considerable hiking experience, dearly hoped to have fine views of Denali. This was not the day. When we stopped at Denali Viewpoint South, clouds obscured the highest peaks including Denali, though, I must say, the “foothills” are mighty impressive. Apparently, the entire mountain is visible only 20 percent of the time.
Our main reason for visiting Talkeetna was to take a “float trip” down the Chulitna River; so, early the next morning, we were in a Talkeetna River Guides’ shuttle heading to the put-in at Denali State Park. Before we launched, they dressed us like blimps with so many layers of clothing that we could barely move; but, on the water, we were grateful for the protection. The route took us to the confluence with the Susitna River which we had seen along the Denali Highway. After our first week, the geography of the region was beginning to make sense. We enjoyed our rafting trip: it was a good way to see a remote area and its wildlife including a black bear cub, a river otter, and many bald eagles (we stopped counting at 35!). Once again, cloudy skies obscured what surely would have been spectacular views of Denali and neighboring peaks. Oh well.