We don't get to see Denali ("High One"), tallest mountain on the continent, very closely. It's early in the season, so we're allowed to drive 30 miles into the park, but that's still about 75 away from the Mountain King (according to a helpful roadside plaque).
As we wind our way inward, the Alaskan Range unwinds and stretches like spines on a dragon's back, too sharp and jagged to be real. I squint at each shining new-minted mountain that comes into view, measure its height against my stacked fingers at arm's length, wondering which one is Denali, and whether I'll ever know.
I needn't have worried. About ten miles into the park, a ghost mountain rises behind the others, distant and hazy, all sharp angles and jagged snowed peaks, all the power of height, and none of the solidity. We have seen other mountains with their peaks in the clouds - the clouds veil them, soften them. Not so Denali - he calls the clouds to himself. They hide his depths, the low winding ridges, the softness, but he cuts ghostly through them, higher and brighter, until all you can see of the Mountain King are clawed heights raking the sky, and his shadow on the land he rules.
Makes me want to take up mountain climbing. I'll have to put it on the list.