First, a word of advice: Be friends with pilots!
Having the power of flight opens up a world of adventuresome opportunities many people can’t fathom. We have been able to access some of the most perfectly wild places here in Denali National Park this summer, and that’s only because we have had bush pilots on our side.
This post is about the best place we’ve been dropped at yet, called Foreplay.
I’m not exactly sure why Foreplay was named so, but besides it’s slightly crude name, it has to be one of the most immaculate places left on Earth.
Foreplay’s position is right in front of Peter’s Dome, an 10,571 ft. mountain butted up against Denali. The night we arrived, we were greeted with the most spectacular sunset complete with alpenglow on the mountains.
And then, we awoke to another day of perfection. Special thanks to mother nature for granting us the best weather we’ve had all summer long during our two days at Foreplay.
The best part about Foreplay is that the immediate area is an expansive field of perfect alpine tundra, which is really nice for hiking. Some tundra around Denali can be extremely lumpy due to the permafrost underneath. I’ve heard tundra-going compared to walking on basketballs covered in carpet. As you can imagine, this makes for a significant amount of ankle rolling and all around extra exertion. Walking a mile in bushy, uneven tundra often feels more like five miles.
The tundra was heavenly here. No trees or shrubs to wade through, only soft low-lying alpine goodness for easy trekking. We actually hiked barefoot for most of the day just because it was so warm, the thought of donning stuffy hiking boots seemed silly.
We hiked right up to this glacier in front of Peter’s Dome. The glaciers here in Denali are unique. Unlike the jagged exposed glacial ice of coastal regions (like the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau we posted about earlier), these inland glaciers are siltier and sometimes covered in plant life. Though they display a more subtle form, they’re an extremely important part of the landscape. Glaciers comprise one million of Denali National Park’s six million acres.
As we made our way closer to Peter’s Dome, the colors of the landscape became increasingly stunning. The glacial runoff formed endless silver streams and kettle ponds throughout the tundra.
Truly, the scope of this place is enormous. The closer you get to Denali, the more difficult it becomes to wrap your head around its enormity. You really get the sense of being so small and so impermanent in comparison to nature.
Putting yourself into utter wilderness is a sure-fire way to feel humbled. I think it’s really important for people to feel that sublimity every now and again. It’s too easy to be overcome by the rat-race of our society and to disconnect from our authentic nature.
Life is for playing.
P.S. Shout out to how awesome airplane pilots are. And, especially, thanks to all the awesome dudes who’ve been generous enough to fly us to some of our new favorite places.