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Backpacker Magazine – June 2011

National Parks: Denali

Denali isnít just for experts. These guinea pigs will prove it. Probably.

by: Ted Alvarez

Crystal Creek Basin (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
Crystal Creek Basin (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
Descending to the Thorofare River (Photo by Elissa Alvarez)
Descending to the Thorofare River (Photo by Elissa Alvarez)
Cozy camp in a sheltered spot (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
Cozy camp in a sheltered spot (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
Crossing the Thorofare River (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
Crossing the Thorofare River (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
View from 4,724-foot Contact Pass (Photo by Ted Alvarez)
View from 4,724-foot Contact Pass (Photo by Ted Alvarez)



ASK A BEAR
Q: Denali is grizzly central, right? Why so few attacks on humans?

A: In Denali, I’m not such a bad dude: The park has only had 23 bear-caused human injuries in its 94-year existence—none fatal. Meanwhile, my jerk cousins down south have killed seven in or near Yellowstone and nine in Glacier. But why, you ask? First, there are fewer of us here than you think (300), and as few as four humans per backcountry unit. Statistical chances of close encounters are actually slim. Plus, I roam wide tundra benches, where we can usually spot each other at a distance and alter course easily. Not to mention, I’m fairly preoccupied with inhaling berries, roots, and grasses—not hunting. Ditto looking for your stash: With no designated campsites, no spot in the park reliably smells like stroganoff. Plus, most backpackers here are fairly freaked out, so they are more vigilant about keeping clean.




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Eric Troyer
Oct 14, 2012

"The park has only had 23 bear-caused human injuries in its 94-year existenceónone fatal." Unfortunately, that last part is not true. First fatality was recorded this August. See this article: http://www.adn.com/2012/08/26/2600680/denali-hikers-camera-offers-clues.html

Otherwise, the answer is spot on.

Al Dargiel
Feb 13, 2012

Catching up on reading magazines piled up at home. Read this article five months after returning from our 10 day trip to Alaska which included Denali NP and stopping at Eielson Visitor Center. Gives a better and more appreciative view of the area.

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