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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Talkeetna here we come!

What a great trip. The road to Talkeetna has little interesting places spotted along the way. Great fishing spots, a birchwood syrup factory, a kids fishing derby. So much to see. When you get to Talkeetna you understand why, it's a little tourist trap. People everywhere!

First stop, the little old visitors center, way out in the middle of nowhere just at the turnoff. What a good choice that was. Then on to Birch Syrup. Well I have heard of maple syrup. Birch syrup? It is delightful, a bit like golden syrup or treacle without a sickly sweet taste, still sweet though. There is only one other group who harvest significant quantities of birch syrup that they know of. It takes 110 gallons of birch sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. They tap trees 8” or more and use a reverse osmosis machine to seperate the water out and then boil down the remainder. Apparently in Russia, they drink the sap straight, it is like ever so lightly sweetened water with calcium, potassium and manganese. Who would have guessed. Makes one look at birch trees in a different light.

Next stop Talkeetna itself. My first thoughts were; old fashioned setting, full of hippies, dirt/gravel roads, and despite the loads of tourists by the bus-full everywhere, I loved it. This is a really quite a small town center that is reminiscent of the olden days and brings in huge numbers of people. We visited the town market where Reagan chose a lovely little necklace with coloured glass, then a couple of bits of Alaskan gold with clear glass fused on top. Next stop, a wonderful museum.

The Talkeetna airstrip in the middle of town!
Then on to the ranger station where all Denali/Mt McKinley climbers have to sign in, pay $200 to register and go through a ranger training session before their ascent. Only 50% of those who attempt to climb Denali are successful. Tax payers money rescues those who are unable to come down themselves. We watched a wicked video showing people climbing up and down Denali. Sitting out incredibly severe weather even though it is summer, being rescued, being treated for injuries such as swelling of the brain when one hasn't given ones body enough time to acclimatise. They are all issued personal tins for toileting in, everything that goes up has to come down, and so it does. No oxygen is used on Denali, so they can really only climb 1000ft a day. Not my thing – the climbing part, much too old and far too unambitious in that department. Although, as we sat in the Talkeetna Roadhouse having a reindeer pasty, there were plenty of young guys who looked loaded up and rearing to give it a go.
Talkeetna Road House with live music,
a warm and inviting atmosphere.

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Hi there, feel free to leave a comment and ask any questions. Thanks, Desray

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