There’s a song I love that has a passing line: “Summer’s beginning to give up the fight”. It always reminds me of late August where the heat starts to back off, the days start to get shorter, but clearly it isn’t autumn yet. In our attempt to make one last grasp at summer, the pup and I found out that summer has already given up the fight.
We made a run north in Denali State Park, the extensive forest and hills that are just to the south of Denali National Park, complete with views of the Alaskan mountains and Mt McKinley. The plan was to go camping last night, pack up the car, head down the Denali Highway (a rough unpaved, but still a state highway that connects the two main north-south highways in southern Alaska), then down to Valdez to end the weekend. This was a big trip, this was the third real attempt to camp — the first we called it early when cool weather, loud campgrounds, & massive bugs chased us home after just a couple hours; the second had us wimping out in an RV and even that we made a run for it when the rain was unrelenting. You can say we “camped” but not the whole weekend — we camped last night, and were back to Anchorage by 10am this morning.
It’s been wet up that way for the last week or two, that was clear in the trees and woods. We made camp next to Byers Lake, a beautiful trout filled lake wedged in the Susitna River valley on the edge of the Talkeetna Mountains. The pup was his usual helpful self, when he made sure to stand on the tent the whole time I was putting it up, and sniffed at the tent stakes just as I was going to hammer them into the ground. After a short hike to finish off the “305 miles to Valdez” goal, I set to work starting a camp fire. An hour later, I gave up. The kindling in the area were more water than wood, and the fire pit was like trying to set a fire on top of a puddle. Still, it was a nice night, a little cool, but for the pup he was about as ease out there than anywhere.
Somewhere around midnight the skies opened up. A good steady rain came down for about 2 hours. None of it got into the tent, but it made things a bit cool for the two of us. When I was starting to get up around 5:30 making a plan for breakfast and hitting the road, another rain came along. Lasting for about an hour, it was clear that things were going to be messy to say the least. With the wet hanging in the air, we got the compound effect of it being 45°F (7°C). We were just not feeling it this morning.
It was cold, it was wet, and the kicker of it all … about 25% of the trees were showing color of the changing of the seasons. We gave up the fight on camping, and summer has given up its fight in Alaska.
So the tent is drying in my garage, and we napped an awful lot today, and a run for an overnight in Valdez is still in the plans for tomorrow. Today is fine though, we’ll just give up the fight here.