Saturday, July 2, 2011
A Walk Around Talkeetna
Well, we had to move out of Talkeetna Camper Park this morning. We weren’t ready to leave, so we asked the owner to give us a call if he had a cancellation. We drove about the village and found a place to park on the street across from the Talkeetna Ranger Station. The street is very wide even though it’s just a dirt road. Cars are parked every which way all about town, so we felt like this would be fine, at least for the day. In our walking around, we stopped at the Talkeetna Visitor Center and asked if it would be all right to park here overnight. It would be fine and her only word of caution was that it might be noisy from all the young people in town for the holiday weekend. We also asked at the Ranger Station if it would be okay to park on the street overnight and they also said it would be fine. Sooooo, here we are.
It was a rainy day, but that didn’t stop us from our walk about town. Our first stop was to attend the ranger program. I think I mentioned in a previous post that Talkeetna is the staging area for the Mt McKinley climbers. Since the mountain is within the National Park, the Park Service is responsible for interviewing climbers, issuing permits, and search and rescue. The ranger program, naturally, was about climbing Mt McKinley. The ranger doing the presentation was an older gentleman--a seasoned ranger--and he did an outstanding job. It was, by far, the best presentation we’ve heard in a very long time.
Although there are many other mountains that are higher in elevation, McKinley, because of its location so far north of the equator, is a very difficult mountain to climb. Cold temperatures and high winds assault the climbers. This year nine climbers have lost their lives on the mountain, one of them just yesterday. There are about 1200 attempts at the summit each year and only about 50 percent reach the top. The average time to reach the summit is 18 days. Many of those days are built in “rest” days to allow the body time to adjust to the altitude, but there are usually days when climbers are just waiting for the weather to be favorable.
After the presentation, our next stop was the Saturday Market. Usually, I think of fresh vegetables when I see “Saturday Market” advertised. This was a craft market of local artists. There were several booths offering hand painted clothing, scarves, and socks, almost anything you might want from picture frames to door handles made of caribou and moose antlers, and nature photographs. There was one booth offering porcupine quill earrings. The majority of the booths were beautifully crafted jewelry of silver or glass beads. I had bought a pair of earrings at Denali, but sort of wish I’d waited. These were just gorgeous.
The rest of the day we strolled around town stepping into first one shop then another. Gene was finally successful in finding the fleece vest he’s been looking for.
Our last stop of the afternoon was in the bar at Negley’s Store or was it West Rib Cafe. We went into Negley’s. At the back of the store was a door opening which led to the bar, but I really think we were in West Rib Cafe at that point. Kinda hard to say. Behind the bar there were two tap handles of interest. One was an ice axe used by prominent McKinley guide, Ray Genet. The other was a real moose jaw (with teeth) which dispensed Kassik Moose Point Porter. I don’t know what all that means, exactly, but it was interesting to see.
The history of Negley’s store is interesting, too. It was built about 1918 at Susitna Station which was just a little place on the river where supplies were shipped in for the miners. It was disassembled and rebuilt near the river in Talkeetna. In 1945, it was moved up to its present location on Main Street. For the last move, it was placed on log rollers and actually stayed open for business during the three days it took to move up the street.
It’s still raining. We’re tucked in snug as bugs in our home across from the Talkeetna Ranger Station. Life is so good. Hope you’re having as much fun on this 4th of July weekend as we are.
Thanks for tagging along.