In praise of the Great One, the mountain Denali

Alaskans reliably call each other and post on Facebook about three things: moose bedded down in their yards or driveways, the Northern Lights, and sightings of Denali.

It was named Denali, or the Great One, by the Koyukon Athabaskan people who are its indigenous people.

We ask, “Is the mountain out today?” Not, “Can you see the mountain?” Denali has a will of its own. It is the geological result of erosion and earthquakes that pushed it up to more than 20,000 feet above sea level, the tallest mountain in North America.

Denali resulted from small but relentless impacts of water and wind over thousands of years. And, Denali resulted from seismic events, huge shifts in the plates of our Earth.

When I lived in Anchorage, more than 250 miles from the mountain that the feds call McKinley, I looked for it every time I was out driving. I felt gratitude and awe every single time I saw it. Denali puts my life into perspective. It will be here long after you and I are gone.

Below are images my friends have taken of Denali, along with some facts about the mountain that lives, now, in my soul.

Update August 31, 2015: President Obama has officially recognized the real name of this mountain. You can read about it here.


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