September 15, 2022

Our Vacation to Talkeetna, Alaska


Our Vacation to Talkeetna, Alaska
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 15, 2022

On the 4th day of our Alaska Vacation, we left Seward and headed north to the small town of Talkeetna, Alaska.  It's a really cool place.

Our resort had an incredible view of the mountains.  Well, at least if there was a clear sky it would be a great view.  We discovered that August is Alaska's rainiest month while we were there.  They say that visitors to the area only get to see the mountains on 3 out of 10 days or 30% of the time.  We hoped we'd be one of the lucky ones.

The sign claimed the mountains were in front of us, but I was starting to think it was some kind of a hoax.  Denali which was formerly called Mount McKinley, is the tallest mountain in North America with a height of 20,310 feet.  I really wanted to see it!

Luckily on our 3rd and final day in Talkeetna, the clouds lifted and we were awakened to blue skies.  When we went outside this majestic beauty was staring back at us.  It resembled a painting in the sky.  Just beautiful!

We went on a 5-hour river ride with Mahay's Jet Boat Adventures which was an absolute blast.  Our journey was to be a 130 mile round trip excursion on the Susitna River through Denali State Park and up to the wild rapids of Devil's Canyon.  We were anxious to discover what kind of critters we'd see along the way.

Our guides were very experienced and knowledgeable about the area.  Unfortunately I don't remember their names because I'm a horrible person.  But they really seemed to know what they were doing.

We were ready for an adventure in the Alaskan Wilds!

It was a pretty rainy day, but we could go out on the back part of the boat and get outside to be one with nature.  Most of the time we opted to sit in the boat because it had a roof and was warmer and dryer.  But being one with nature was nice as well.

We went by Curry, Alaska which is an old ghost town in the middle of the rainforest.  According to Wikipedia, "in 1922, the remote train station in the Alaska wilderness became a briefly popular luxury resort destination. Located alongside the Susitna River, Curry was billed "a wilderness palace" when the Railroad opened the first hotel in 1923. Curry was a common overnight stop for rail passengers, and with the hotel and renowned fishing. The town rose in population, and the resort became more popular as it expanded to include a golf course, and a suspension bridge."  The guide told us they also had a swimming pool which is a bigger challenge than you might think in the middle of Alaska.

Eventually we reached our destination and started realizing why we needed such a powerful boat like we were driving.  The captain described Devil's Canyon as some of the most treacherous white-waters in the world with Class 5 Rapids.  I had no idea what Class 5 rapids were, but was definitely intrigued.

We didn't go all the way through Devil's Canyon but stopped right next to this wall of water.  The guide told us only two people have successfully taken a boat all the way through and I was glad he wasn't set on making us the third.  It was more intense than I imagined it would be.

Our captain told us he'd been doing this for like 28 years and he sure drove like that was the case.  He did yell at us a couple of times not to hold on to his chair while we came to the front of the boat.  It was harder than it looked.  I almost slipped and had to grab on to him which he explained could have some pretty dangerous consequences for all of us.

Despite the inherent danger involved in navigating these Class 5 Rapids, the captain encouraged us all to come to the front of the boat to snap a picture in front of them.  They made it sound like it was a safe thing to do so we were happy to oblige.

Eventually the tour took us to shore for a nature walk and the opportunity to visit some artifacts the guides thought we'd like to see.  How can you not love old moose horns?

They had several structures set-up to show us what life was like back in pioneer days when people would go out hunting and trapping in this area.  It looked very interesting but also reminded me about why I like being able to buy my food in a store.

Our guide carried a big rifle with her, but still warned us not to wander off too far from her sight.  She said you never know what you might encounter on these paths.

A short while later, we got a glimpse of what they were talking about.  After 5 hours on a boat seeking out wildlife on the shore, literally a couple of minutes before we came back to home base, we saw this big guy swimming in the river.  The captain took us within a safe distance where we watched him swim around, then climb out of the water, and run off into the woods.  It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life!

Back at the lodge, we played cards and shared tales of bravery during our adventures exploring the great Alaskan Wilderness.   The next stop on our trip would be in Denali State Park.  

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