Day 6 Grand Alaska Adventure: Teklanika River Campground

Today we’re going to have an adventure. We’re dumping our RV tanks and moving to the Teklanika River campground further into Denali. Okay, so dumping an RV tank may not be an adventure but it’s struck fear into many a new RVers heart. So be prepared as this particular blog entry will be discussing dumping. A not so glamorous activity. I warned you on the last post!

After a hearty breakfast we prepared the RV for travel once again. Basically, just putting everything away that had a place and tucking things inside cabinets so they wouldn’t fly about the cabin.

Bill and Annie got a bit of an earlier start as they had to drop their Jeep off at the Visitors Center. Towed vehicles are not allowed beyond mile 15 of the park. We then followed mom and dad over to the Mercantile to prepare for three more nights of dry camping.

There are three full dump stations at the Mercantile with a last aisle that provides water but no dump station. During the summer I imagine there can be quite a queue, but for us it was a matter to simply pull in or wait for one other RV.

Turns out dumping the RV is no big deal. We’d already dumped our grey tank (basically anything that goes down a drain) back at our campground in Talkeetna, but now it was time to experience dumping the black. After three nights at Riley our tank was about 2/3 full so for anyone curious about the capacity of those rental RVs for a few nights of dry camping, not to worry.

Dad was there to walk me through the procedure which simply consisted of pulling out the “stinky slinky” as they call it, dropping the end into the dump receptacle, hooking up the other to the RV pipe then opening the black valve. Pretty simple and not nearly as worrisome as I feared.  We had the foresight to purchase a package of latex gloves during our shopping trip and I certainly wouldn’t do this without!

After the black tank is empty you simply close the black valve and pull open the grey. This helps wash out the hose and when all done the valves are closed. The dump station provides a hose to clean up if necessary as well as to wash out the stinky slinky when you’re done. One big tip my dad provided is to always hold up the hose as you disconnect from the RV to ensure everything drains into the receptacle. Great tip!

Afterwards we simply topped off our fresh water tank and we’re good to continue our adventure. Overall, pretty simple and not nearly the ordeal I had envisioned.

The drive out to Tek was beautiful. Once again we were faced with those amazing views.

I’m sneaking in a picture from the bike path between Riley Creek and the Visitors Center because it’s too pretty to not include! Especially as I now know that those yellow trees are Willow, a particular favorite of moose, not that we’ve seen any so far. 

They do claim there are moose, we just haven’t seen any. However, it’s rutting season so warnings were posted in the heavier moose populated areas.

We soon reached the end of the unrestricted section of the road (mile 15) where we were stopped by some park rangers who made sure we were prepared and understood the restrictions at Tek. Water full – check; black and grey empty – check; gas tank full – check; food & supplies – check. We’re good to go.

The road meandered past Sanctuary River where we had enjoyed our Discovery Hike and where once again impressed by the beautiful color.

The road however became less impressive. With the recent rains there were tremendous potholes and rough grading for several long stretches. Reaching mile 29 took nearly two hours!

We once again played campground musical chairs as we drove the two loops looking for good spots. Having reservations just ensures you there is a space. It’s up to you to choose the space. We found three close together and were quickly setup and ready to explore.

Linda and I headed down to the Teklanika River to get a little exercise. Wandering the gravel beds without a guide definitely made us a bit more nervous so we ensured we made lots of noise, talking and giving a good periodic “Yo Bear!”

It was fun trekking back and forth across the wide gravel beds and fording some shallow streams. Despite the rain we had a nice time.

We enjoyed searching for pretty rocks and discovered lots of tracks. We’re thinking caribou or deer.

Didn’t see any bear tracks, but after wandering up the river a bit we definitely found evidence of bear. Not a pretty sight so if you’re squeamish LOOK AWAY!

Yep, more poop.  Our ranger on the Discovery Hike would go so far as picking up the poop. We’re not touching this. . . even with our poles. Ick.  But, we did decide we were wimps and head back toward the campground. It was rather ironic that we complained about the lack of wildlife but really didn’t want to encounter anything!

On the way back to the campground we visited the campground host and signed up for another Discovery Hike.  There was one in two days that sounded interesting and the bus would pass by the campground and pick us up. Perfect and gave us something other than a long bus ride our last day at Tek!

Our campground host and his wife would only be in the park for another day before heading south for a few weeks. They had been full-time RVers for the past 16 months enjoying the road out of their immense 5th wheel RV. With the slides open there was a separate bedroom, large kitchen and what looked like a large living room in the rear. But definitely full with two adults and two large yellow labs!

The afternoon wound down with another group happy hour and a delicious dinner. Afterwards we took a walk around the park and discovered the rain had brought snow to the mountains!

Fall had quickly turned to winter within Denali bringing with it another color to paint the landscape.

What an amazing journey it’s been so far. The colors, landscape and company have been wonderful. Tomorrow’s bus ride into the park is going to be a treat!

 

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