can you see the mountain?

A clear day on the Denali Highway.
A clear day on the Denali Highway

We love that people ask questions about the cabin in Alaska. It doesn’t matter if we’ve heard them before. Off the top of my head, the list of popular questions goes something like this:

I know I’m forgetting some, but this is a good start. I thought a fun thing to do with this blog would be to answer some of these questions over time. (If you have a different question, please do leave it in the comments.) Some will be longer answers, like how Stewart got the land. Others will be short. Is there anyone else nearby? No.

I won’t write about them in any particular order, and I’ll consult Stewart often. The land and the cabin are at the center of his heart, so I’ll be speaking from my experience and understanding but I’ll go to the expert to check the facts. He’s been doing this a lot longer than I have. Maybe I can even talk him into writing a post or two.

Can you spot the helicopter?
No mountain here. But can you spot the helicopter?

Question: Can you see the mountain from the cabin?

“The mountain” is Denali — or Mt. McKinley — which is the tallest mountain in North America. The highest peak is about 20,300 feet above sea level. Wikipedia just taught me this: At 18,000 feet, the base-to-peak rise of Denali is thought to be the largest of any mountain situated entirely above sea level.

Denali is part of the Alaska Range and it’s something almost everyone hopes to see when they visit Denali National Park. Our cabin is about 70 miles away from the mountain. On a very clear day, if we walk up the ridge behind us and look to the west, we can see the top of it. Most days we don’t see it, but it’s not the kind of thing you forget about.

Helicopter Over the River Gorge
2010: Here comes the helicopter. The mountain is over there, on the other side of the ridge.

My personal best view of Denali was on a day in September 2010 when Stewart and I left the cabin by helicopter instead of hiking. As soon as we started to gain altitude, I got the idea that this might be good.

Around this point I was probably starting to make exclamations that no one could hear because we have to wear the ultimate sound-canceling headsets on the helicopter and no one can hear anything you’re exclaiming unless you push a button first.

Denali View Two

The helicopter folks have taken us in to and out from the cabin a lot and I haven’t had another view like this one. Even much better photos than these — and there are many — can’t quite convey the power of Denali. You have to see the mountain to understand it’s one of the few times the word breathtaking might not be an exaggeration.

Denali View Three

Hills, mountains, more mountains, and the mountain.

Denail View Four

It was such an extraordinary day that after we got off the helicopter, we decided to drive the long way back to Fairbanks. Usually we go straight from Point A to Point C on the map below. Instead, we went A to B (the Tangle River Inn on the Denali Highway) and then the next day, B to C.

The Denali Highway (Cantwell to Paxson) is a long, gorgeous, mostly gravel road — and a post for another day.

Denali Highway Route


11 thoughts on “can you see the mountain?

    1. Thank you, Sarah! I’ll definitely do a food post at some point; that’s quite an undertaking and we have a well developed system around it. We don’t hunt.

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  1. Indeed, I have wondered all of those things and more. I eagerly await to hear whether you pack heat when you’re up there! “Denali” always makes me think of “de nada”, such a civilized response.

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    1. Thanks, Dear Beth! That gun post is definitely going to be more than one word. It’s complicated. “Denali” is also a quick flip of the wrist from “Denial,” but they’re very different places. :-)

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