Wow, Friday night already. I don't have time for a Denali Highway trip report quite yet, but I dislike getting too far behind with my blogging (call it an irrational aversion.) Anyway, I'm in Fairbanks now, gearing up for the Chena River to Ridge 25-mile race. I was going to come directly here from Palmer, but on Thursday I decided to cut the drive in two and camp one night in Denali National Park. Because I'm going through one of my more extended bouts of insomnia right now, I hoped spending a night alone somewhere dark and quiet, curled up in my fluffy down cocoon, would foster a much needed night of sleep. And of course, I could go for some "easy" tours of the park while I was there.
There was an incredibly fun segment that wended through a stream bed, swooping around tighter turns and skating across chunks of frozen overflow. I felt like I was mountain biking in a desert wash — blue ice instead of slickrock, wind-drifted powder instead of sand, huge Alaska mountains instead of redrock cliffs. It was all so grin-inducing, I ended up staying out longer than I intended.
The ride netted 27 miles and 2,344 feet of climbing in 3:45. Going to Denali National Park was both a fantastic and not-so-great idea, as I'm feeling well-cooked already and I haven't even raced yet. Driving the rest of the distance to Fairbanks this afternoon revealed how overtired I am, with a full release of rapidly swinging emotions. One moment I was listening to Muse and driving too fast, and a few minutes later I'd switched to the soundtrack from "Once" and lapsed into tears as I thought about Beat. But for all of those reasons, it was a great two days. I ran wild with a spectrum of powerful emotions, from fear to anxiety to exhilaration to joy to love and sadness. I let it out and now I feel refreshed. Maybe now I can sleep.