north at Muldrow Glacier's lower moraine. June 1993.
||Guiding in Denali
I returned three years later I came guiding a group of 11 hikers from the
Philadelphia area. We had broke into four small groups and set out
on the alpine tundra to explore. I had paired with a 20ish computer programmer
who had betrayed an eagerness for a 'challenging' adventure. I doubt
he considered the possibility of a sentient Denali actually listening to
his wishes. He could have been more careful articulating what he
wanted. As it was, my partner and I rather ignorantly thrust ourselves,
with full backpacks, into crossing three miles of some of the most challenging
terrain Denali could offer: the Lower Muldrow Glacier Moraine.
largest and longest glaciers tend to carry down massive amounts of boulders,
rocks and gravel on their surface every year. When a glacier reaches
that area where it melts as fast as new ice arrives, the resulting 'traffic
jam' can cause huge hills of rock and gravel to pile up (seen at left).
Some hills will still contain ice just below the surface, lending more
hazard to traversing them. It was into such challenge that my partner
and I thrust ourselves at the unseemly hour of 9 pm one late June evening.
We reached the other side by 6 am the next morning; in nine hours of exhausting
work we had only traveled three miles.
a few hours of rest, we ventured out on an ascending hike south, parallel
to the mighty Muldrow. We followed a caribou migration path leading
to a 5000' pass (below) that overlooks a westward hairpin turn in Muldrow's
course. From the top I turned and photographed my partner as he began
his return descent. A wind came up and low-lying clouds behind me
began lifting. I turned back south and watched as peaks a few miles
away began unveiling themselves. These peaks, climbing from Denali's
eastern 'lap', commanded my gaze. Again, I felt the spell that had
compelled my return. I experienced a momentary call to return to
this place again, though I knew not how or when I might do so. I
have yet to return, though I remember the sensation, ten years later, as
if it occurred only moments ago.