Mothers Day in The Park

Denali National Park that is.

Peak 4905 in Denali National Park as seen from Cathedral Mountain

My folks came up to visit me in Fairbanks and for the weekend we drove down to Healy together where we camped for a night and had two days to tour some beautiful places. For Saturday we did some fossil hunting in Suntrana Creek on the Usibelli coal mine road and then on Sunday we biked the Denali National Park Road. We were accompanied by John Perrin and his family, also hailing from Anchorage. I broke off for a few hours and climbed Cathedral Mountain in Denali National Park too.

Suntrana Creek fossil hunting

May 8th 2021

Suntrana Creek is pretty cool. You just drive up the Usibelli coal mine road, park at the creek, and your immediately confronted with distinct geological layers that look super cool. I was told to look in the red rocks for fossils, so that is what we did. We found some, just faint leaves, none super big. The fossil hunting down in Palmer/Sutton is much better, but the special part of this trip was being surrounded by all the colorful rock.

If you are a mountain biker, I have heard very good things about the mountain biking trails that are west of Suntrana Creek. There is a larger parking area for seekers of the mountain biking trails, also located west of Suntrana Creek.

On Sunday, we drove into the park. On the Drive we saw a brown bear, caribou, and a brief glimpse of a moose. From the Teklanika parking area we biked across the Teklanika bridge and up till the incline to Sable Pass started. From here I went on alone, biking up a little ways further.

At 1pm and about 3200′ on the park road I stopped biking and started going up an unnamed creek for Cathedral Mountain. This creek I’m going up was quite post holey so after a failed attempt to roll my socks down as gaitors, I decided I would have more fun side hilling (yeah I know, thats saying something). I sidehilled on climbers left hand side and it indeed was better than postholing. 3 rams jived with this conclusion too. Happily resting right in my natural path. I figured they would spook like most sheep do when they see me, but these rams must’ve sized me up good and realized that they could pulverize me if I got too close. I was afraid they might just come over and do it for the hell of it too! They departed after I had already passed around them and was walking away, but I did manage some good pictures before they took off.

Continuing up Cathedral Mountain was straightforward. Some hard snow, very little scrambling. I just took it easy as needed and made it to the top at 3pm. My InReach checked it in at 4968′.

Looking SW. The higher point is somewhere in there
Peak 4905 and the Teklanika River
Looking SE. Deeper mountains and Teklanika River headwaters

The ridgewalk north to Peak 4905 wasn’t difficult, but it was more difficult than the view from the top of cathedral suggests. Twice I had to significantly abandon the ridge and drop down the east side as unexpected cliffs hid on the north side of some miniature peaks. I was hustling to make it back in time for dinner, so it was at 4:30pm that I arrived atop Peak 4905. I descended a little nose on Peak 4905’s west face and made it back to the bike at 5:30pm. 20 min later I was back at the car.

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