Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Snow in Denali NP and a sobering drive home..

 just a day long trip north yesterday.  when i left Anchorage it was sunny here.  the weather worsened as i headed north as i drove into the national park it was snowing.  i thought i was dressing pretty warm with a fleece shirt and down vest.  it was cold up there though so i hit the gift shop before it closed and bought a more substantial fleece.  happy  i did.  it was the extra small size, which was one of the only fleeces they had left.  apparently they were a hot ticket item yesterday.  was happy XS fit me anyway.
 don't think i left Anchorage until around 11 am.  i was in no rush.  stopped at Wal Mikes a silly store/antique place along the parks highway that i've often wanted to check out.
 the fall colours came on more the further north obviously.  looking quite beautiful. i love fall colors.
 my next stop was at the Talkeetna Spur grocery store...for a bag of frozen peas.  my knee seems to hurt worse when i sit too long.  i iced my knee with Talkeetna frozen peas.
 then i headed to Byers Lake for a walk with the dogs.  tough one for rio as there were more roots that i remembered. she persevered as she always does.  no rain or snow there so i was happy we went ahead and took a break.  my knee felt better after walking and by the time we got back to the car i had pea juice running down my leg.  apparently Talkeetna peas had a leak.
 it was oddly a fun surprise to see the snow.  a different kind of beauty.  sure, i would have preferred a sunny day with fluffy clouds, but there is always beauty.  the fall colours seemed highlighted with the snow all around.
 the bight colours really stood out.
 no animal sightings.  was hopeful, but no go.
 when i got to the turn around point it was pouring rain.  i had originally thought i would take a walk here so i am doubly happy that i stopped with dogs at Byers.  did get them fed here in the rain.
 eventually we wandered back out of the park and headed back south.  i again, took my time, stopped a few times for photo's....a few young moose were chilling right off the highway.
 was watching the clock and figured i'd make it home near midnight.
 was just thinking of stopping and stretching with the dogs before it got too dark when traffic ahead seemed to have come to a total stop.
 we were just north of Byers lake...3 hours drive from home.
 i pulled over to the side of the road, out of line.  i figured that way i could walk the dogs a bit and if traffic got started again i wouldn't hold it up.
 traffic wasn't going anywhere though.  as i walked and chatted with several other folks in the now few mile long line of cars it was apparent that a fatality accident had occurred.  word in the line was of 2 deaths and survivors transported to Anchorage.  Police were doing an investigation, the road could be closed for hours.  ran into some friendly young kids who said they had been there 2 hours before, left to eat and were back again.  it was about 9pm...so the road was closed close to 7pm.
 thankfully, i'd tossed a sleeping bag in , just in case.  after i walked i stretched out in the car for a rest.  don't think i ever fell asleep but it was good to try and just close my eyes for a bit.  we started to see some cars move sometime after 10pm...not even sure really.  a few cars would come this way and then we started to move the other way.  they pulled the rv's and trailers...big stuff over and let the cars through first.
 eventually i made my way to the scene of the accident.  it was somber and sobering.  head on collision.  the one car was burned down to almost nothing resembling a car.  felt myself tear up and said a little prayer that the poor people in the burnt out car had died upon impact and not had to suffer through a fire and death that way. everyone drove slowly past...and after that we all just drove in line.
 eventually a few people started to break up the group by passing.  i was trembling and i know it wasn't because i felt cold.  i do hate driving in the darkness and when it gets dark here it is pitch dark and there are big moose out there. i stayed with the pack but pulled over to get gas and use the bathroom.  no bathroom there at trappers creek that late though so i headed back down to the Talkeetna spur.  when i got back on the road i was alone out there...amazing how quickly all those miles of cars spaced out on that empty road.
i did stop at the Talkeetna spur as did everyone else it seems.  saw many folks from the cars i had spoke to on my walk. there was also a group of firefighters there.  the guy in front of me requested to pay for their hotdogs and snacks.  i followed a group out and drove got with another pack of cars for safety until i got past Wasilla.  the firemen were in that pack.  home safe by 2 something am.
happy i went and saw the beauty but it was also tiring and emotional i think.  head back to work again tonight.
thankful fors...1.  clearly that my car was not involved in an accident and my travel was safe.  2. to see Denali national park in it's fall colours with a dash of winter 3.  a day of rest...hope tonight goes well.

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