The word Talkeetna means convergence – named after the convergence of the Talkeetna, Chulitna, and the Susitna rivers. My convergence story begins with an acquaintance I met at Cheena Hotsprings. She was an interesting woman who had spent many years of her life in a homesteaded cabin in the wilderness. In her experience, she felt the best views of the Denali peaks were from outside the park specifically mentioning mile 135. Providing directions by mile # is a common practice (mile 1 of the Parks Highway begins in Anchorage with the entrance to the Denali National Park transit center at mile 237).
At the Grizzly Bear Campground there were a couple of guys from Netherlands who were reading books and enjoying beers. I thought it would be nice to enjoy a good book.
Finally.. the weather. I woke with the remnants of last nights rain storm on my tent rain fly. I packed up, optimistic for a warmer day, letting the rain fly dry. Once dry, I headed out.
The road from Denali Park Village going south past Cantwell to Trapper Creek takes you to a higher elevation, and it wasn’t long until I was riding in clouds with a heavy, cold rain. It was a very cold ride with nothing to see, but the rain streaming down my helmet visor.
One of the features of my Arai helmet is the “pinlock” visor. The visor has two layers, with the inner layer acting as a dual pane to keep the visor fog free. Using the two vents in the visor, I was able to clear up some of the fog that was beginning to appear in the heavy rain. I should have had a small jeweler’s Phillips head screwdriver to properly disassemble the visor to properly clean all surfaces of the visor during a dry and warm moment. The visor, helmet, and motorcycle windscreen took a look of abuse during the trip with a few rock hits and untold number of bees, bugs, dragonflies, and other flying insects. At one stage, my helmet vents were so full of dead bees that the vents wouldn’t even slide open or shut. Armour All Glass Wipes and micro-fiber towels are great for this type of ride.
I stopped at the first lodge I came across – it happened to be at mile 135. I enjoyed lunch, a slice of homemade blueberry pie. I ended up staying overnight at the lodge hoping for better riding weather. The rooms at the lodge are very basic, but the view from my room would have been fantastic had it not been for the unending rain and cloud cover.
One of the reasons I stayed here was the charming Mrs Jean Carey Richardson, owner of the lodge. She is the daughter of Mary Carey, who homesteaded the lodge after moving to Alaska in 1963. Mary was a prolific writer and I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and evening reading her book “Alaska, Not for a Woman”. The book contains a historical account of Talkeetna, flights with the legendary bush pilot Don Sheldon, Denali climbers, the earthquake of 1964, and other Alaska frontier stories.