The past few days were filled with a much anticipated visit to Denali National Park. I can share images of scenery, wildlife and signs that tell our location, but unfortunately not pictures of the mountain, Denali - the great one. It was still thrilling to be in the midst of such grandeur!
On the way...
Our first stop after leaving Soldotna, was in the "artsy" town of Talkeetna. We had a friend who had homesteader in this area years ago, so we really wanted to see it. We toasted her spirit of adventure and her ongoing love of Alaska.
The West Rib is one access route for those who want to climb Denali. It also was the name of the eatery where we finally had a chance to eat the famous Alaskan King Crab. Delicious.
We spent the night here on the edge of town and visited the spot where three rivers come together and sometimes affords a view of the mountain. We saw the wild, glacially fed Susitna, Chulitna and the Talkeetna Rivers, but no mountain view. The village name cames from the Athabaskan word for "river of plenty".
From the Rivers, we decided to stop for our morning coffee at the first cafe we found. The name was the Flying Squirrel. We wanted to take our coffee to go, but still visited a moment with the woman who waited on us. She asked where we were from, and after saying "Maine" she said she used to live there too, near Baxter State Park. One thing led to another and we mentioned hiking the Appalachian Trail since the trail went close to her house. She brightened, and said she had hiked it too. We asked when, and she said '91, and we said we did too! We started jumping, and she shrieked as we shared trail names and mutual friends. (She had hiked many miles with Marmot.) After much hugging and smiling and the wonderful moment that renewed the joy and comraderie of the AT, we said "happy trails" to each other! We headed on to see what other surprise the day might hold.
We got set up at the Riley Creek campground and went to the visitor center to get my passport book stamped - smile - and to locate where to meet the bus in the morning. We also listened to an informative talk by a ranger about the natural recycling of bears, moose, caribou and wolves and sheep.
The next day was our day to ride through the national park. Personal vehicles are not allowed to travel the park road and it is a wonderful program that keeps many extra vehicles and much pollution from the park. We booked the shuttle bus to take us through the entire park, one way trip 92 miles, and about 12 hours round trip, depending on how many wildlife stops we would make. Here is what we saw!
Our first sighting! My picture of far away Dall Sheep and below is image from Internet. Like Caribou, both sexes have horns but the females have smaller ones.
Artic Ground Squirrel
Part of Polychrome Range. Colors are spectacular.
Small herd of female Caribou. We saw about 60 to 70 in small herds, mostly female and the young.
The closest view we had of Grizzlies. We saw five bears in all and it was the thrill of the ride!
We also had a great view of a Common Loon family. Hope you can see the little head of the baby on the back of one of the adults!
This picture is from the Internet, but we saw three Golden Eagles, two adults and an immature.
The road was quite scary at places. Latona was sick in her stomach much of the way across this section.
So much beauty even on a cloudy day. The trip met all my hopes and the only one of the large animals we didn't see was a Gray Wolf. There are about fifty in the park in small packs and they are seen regularly.
Obviously, there are many more photos and moments that were part of this day so we tried to share a few of the scenes and the best of the wildlife shots. One more funny thing...
Thank goodness we can laugh! She loves me to take these crazy shots!!
Today we return to the Klondike RV park, and next week a final adventure when we visit Seward and go on the Kenai Fjords Trip. More after that trip. For now it is back to work!