During Spring Break this year, we skied in to Pirate Lake in the south-east corner of Denali National Park to enjoy four days of snow, sunshine, and a bit of a north wind.
Pirate Lake is named after mountaineer Ray Genet, whose climbing nickname was “the Pirate.” Genet built a homestead on the lake in the 1970’s. These days the homestead is maintained by Genet’s son Taras and wife Staci, who operate it as rustic, remote vacation destination. No electricity or running water, just cozy cabins and amazing scenery in one of the most spectacular places on earth.
Taras and Staci met us (a group of eight: four adults, and four kids ranging from six to nine years old) at the trailhead on the Parks Highway to load most of our gear into his snow machine sled. Taras hauled our gear to the lake, while the eight of us skied. It was about a 10 mile ski on some of the best trails in Alaska. I’ve skied these trails a few times before. The first half of the ski was on a wide, pisten bully-groomed trail. The rest of the way was narrower, but still good for skating in most places. The younger kiddos occasionally (or frequently) got towed by the adults.
Once at the cabins on Pirate Lake, we shared meals, played games, built igloos, did a bit of mushing, explored the Tokositna River on skis, and generally enjoyed a few days of peace and quiet. It was a fabulous time, and Taras and Staci were awesome hosts – generally letting us do our own thing, but always showing up right when we wanted or needed them.
There are eight cabins spread over eighty acres of land (don’t quote me on either of those numbers). The cabins are all the original structures, built forty years ago by climbers, in exchange for Ray guiding them on Denali. Each cabin has tons of amazing history stapled to the walls and ceilings. We spent several hours combing over the pictures and newspaper clippings.
After three nights, we were sad to go, but we once again packed up our stuff for Taras to haul it out, while we skied the return trip to the car.
Such an awesome, and truly Alaskan, spring break!