June 18 – Denali State Park
We left Kenai since we had plans to be on the Arctic Circle in time for Summer Solstice on June 21. We reluctantly left the Kenai and headed north. Right around this time were several wildfires burning including the two biggest that were right in our direction of travel. But they were both away from the highway. We did see the smoke from the Sterling Fire, and at Wasilla, we saw helicopters toting water buckets and even a few firefighters alongside one smoking stretch of the highway. We were able to pass through one lane at a time following a pilot car. We saw where staging areas and incident command were set up. It brought to mind all my ICS training for CERT.
Once past Anchorage, we were on the George Parks Highway. About half way up, we got our first glimpse of Mount McKinley. Sure is a big mountain! We stayed in Denali State Park at a campground called Byers Lake. Mike and I got out our fly rods, and some bug jackets, and headed down to the lake. We had not brought waders and tried to fish off the banks. That did not work out too well with all the vegetation around us. I caught the tree next to me a couple of times. Also we had only flies on the rods and could not cast out too well since they were so light. We did not bring split shot with us. And the bugs were vicious. I had three of them sharing my hood with me, making me crazy. We did not last long. But it was fun trying! We will try again a little further down the road.