Denali AKA Mt. McKinley


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Continued from the previous page.


I went slowly downhill from the highpoint on the trail to the trailhead in the Resurrection Valley, savoring the views and talking to several of the hikers going up the mountain. 

Here are some scenes from the descent:



Top of Exit Glacier at the edge of the Harding Icefield

Above and below:  emergency shelter in the tundra







Dropping below the ice field; impressive view of the upper part of Exit Glacier

Arrow points to a group of five mountain goats; more about them later.

Back through the boulder field

Last view of the ice field, from the Top of the Cliffs overlook

Wet area near the overlook

Other folks hiking up through The Cliffs section


Good view of Exit Glacier's "outwash plain"

One of the last good views of Exit Glacier on the descent

Closer view of the glacier's interesting crevasses

As I dropped down to Marmot Meadows I noticed something on the slope of one of the mountains north of the trail that looked like Van Gogh had been there:


Cool, huh? I hadn't noticed that figure on two previous hikes up and down this trail.


Since no one was near me on the ascent and it was early in the day when animals were feeding, I called out "Hey, bear" dozens of times until I reached the tundra and could see everywhere around me for hundreds of feet.

Below tree line I was especially careful around curves and approaching rises in the trail. I surprised some bears on the Appalachian Trail ten years ago but wasn't keen on running into any bruins in Alaska. Another hiker told me later that he saw a black bear running off through the tundra this morning but all I saw was bear poop.

He also saw two flocks of mountain goats that I missed. I did see them on the way back down the trail and stopped in several places to take pictures of them:


Above and below:  This mama goat is really shedding!

There were about fifteen goats grazing in different areas on the mountainside.

I also saw another marmot (not as cute as the one we saw on Wednesday) and lots of birds on this hike, as well as the mama moose and twins on the Exit Glacier Road this morning. 


About 1 miles from the end I tripped and fell forward, hard, on my right elbow.

When I looked at my photos later I saw that I'd taken a picture on the ascent of the spot where I landed:

It's a wonder I didn't crack or break a bone -- or my teeth, glasses, camera, GPS, trekking poles, etc. I "only" had three bleeding lacerations. The one on my elbow is deep. Farther down on the outside of the lower arm a long flap of skin partially covered a large bleeding wound. I was nervous about all the blood I was losing. 

I haven't mentioned it in previous entries, but this was my third recent hard fall during a hike or bike ride. It literally added insult to injury.

I wasn't the most graceful trail runner for 30+ years; I'm also a clumsy hiker.

I put my pack on a large rock nearby in the shade and dug out a bandana to mop up the blood on my elbow before anyone came by. I couldn't tie it, however, so I asked the next nice couple going up the trail to help me. They went above and beyond -- washed the wounds a little bit with their water bottles, tied the bandana, got out a first-aid kit and asked me if I needed bandages, tape, etc.

I wasn't carrying a full first aid kit but I had some bandages I could use on other smaller bleeding spots so I declined their kind offer of supplies.

They also wisely asked if I was dizzy or faint. No, but I was concerned about getting the wounds clean and the blood stopped ASAP. The fall shook me up but I still had my wits about me and the usual pain meds I take for arthritis helped alleviate the pain. The bandana controlled the bleeding pretty well until I took it off at home.  

I continued down the trail even more carefully with ten miles of hiking under my belt and drove home.

Tiny yellow flowers in tumdra

Dwarf fireweed and Indian paintbrush near the boulder field

Jim and I talked about our respective activities during the day before we got around to looking under the bandana. What he saw shocked Jim, a former volunteer EMT. We used running water and antiseptic wash to clean the wounds as much as I could stand -- the water really hurt.

We put bandages over two of the wounds but we had trouble stopping the bleeding from the deep elbow gash. I couldn't even see it without a mirror. Jim said he thought it needed stitches. 

By then it was about 5 o'clock on a Friday afternoon. Jim went to the military resort office to ask if there was an urgent care clinic in town -- nope. The advice was to go to the hospital ER. We did, and we were there for three long hours.

Above and below:  busy bees gathering nectar from the wild geraniums about 3 mile up the trail

All four rooms for patients were full. After about 1/2 hour we could get into one but it took a long time between all the procedures to get 'er done.

The doc wanted x-rays to ascertain if there was any gravel in my elbow. Good thing, because there was. He numbed the area well and a nurse washed out what gravel and grit she could get. It was after 8 PM by the time I got stitched up, bandaged, and out of there.

Here's what my arm looked like the next day (the pictures are better after the bandages came off to clean the wounds!). Scroll past the photo real fast if it grosses you out:


Jim can take the stitches out in 10-14 days (we didn't tell the medical folks that). We left with instructions for care and enough non-stick bandages and ointment to last two days. Jim has tape and gauze we can use in his EMT kit, and we'll purchase more bandages and ointment when we get back to Anchorage.

[I never did get an ER bill, thanks to our coverage with Medicare and Tricare for Life. We don't like using ERs willy-nilly, but we didn't have much choice in Seward late on a Friday afternoon.]

Next entry:  visiting the Seward Sea Life Center

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil