My husband and I are working in Denali National Park, Alaska for a month, and I want to see as much as possible. So since it doesn’t get dark until almost midnight, I convinced him to take me for a hike starting at 8pm. The hike was supposed to be a mile-and-a-half away, then a 3-mile hike, and a mile-and-a-half back. No big deal right? I got directions to the hike: right at the light and right at the train tracks.
So, as soon as he got off work, we headed down the road, we turned right at the light, and kept walking… and walking. Then for good measure we walked some more. Finally, two miles later we found the railroad tracks. But the tracks were on an overpass. There was nowhere to turn right. So we turned around and walked our happy little butts back home.
When we got home my husband looked up the trail online and found new directions to get there: right at the light, right at Denali Park Road, right at the train tracks. After nearly ten years he should have known not to let me handle directions. The next day some dear friends gave us a ride to the trailhead. Yay hiking! There was snow on the path, but it had all been packed down. We headed down the trail going slowly and carefully and saw some wonderful views. We passed a lake covered in moose tracks and a beaver dam all white with snow. The trail kept getting smaller, but we weren’t concerned. We were following the tracks of other hikers… until we sank into the snow up to our hips.
One second we were on the path, the next we were in the path. Up to ours hips in the path. It turns out the trail was not, in fact, round trip, but one way. We had been hiking off the path for a good half mile. Apparently hikers shouldn’t follow cross country ski tracks. After 45 minutes of rolling in the snow like demented snow angels trying to get back to the path, we returned to the trail and headed home as the snow covered mountains turned pink in the setting sun at 11:30 at night. And I learned a good lesson: always bring a map to an Alaskan trail.