Thursday, July 16, 2015

Denali National Park

Wednesday just has to rank up there as one of the best days we've had on the caravan thus far--we took the all day bus tour of Denali National Park and were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous day!  The sun was out, not too many clouds and we were able to see Mt. McKinley from several points along the way.  Most of the time the mountain is fogged in; in fact 70% of the visitors to the park do not get to see it, so we're now members of the 30% Club!!  Plus we got to see a lot of animals--grizzlies, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, ptarmigan, arctic ground squirrels--about the only thing we didn't see were wolves.  The tour bus driver said we saw more grizzlies in this one day than she had seen the whole previous week combined.  How lucky we were!!  So, I'm just gonna let the pictures do most of the talking for the rest of the post.

Early morning look at Glitter Gulch, on our walk to the hotel down the road where our tour bus picked us up
 Trisha, Dee and Ray by some pretty flowers waiting on the bus

 Still looked pretty iffy with the weather while we were waiting
 But then it started to clear!

 Looking down on the Nenana River
 Chuck and Sally, after getting us all safely on the bus, while they stayed behind for a well deserved free day(except they took care of the 21 dogs on the caravan)

 Driving into the park, these mountains are really stunning

 And here was our first view of Mt. McKinley--the Native American name for it was Deenaalee, shortened to Denali.  By any name, it is nothing short of spectacular!!  Even with the less than perfect focus on the first shot--20,320 ft elevation

 First bull moose sighting

 Even beyond Mt. McKinley, the rest of the mountains are beautiful, here across the tundra and the Toklat River

 Another view of Denali, which translates to The High One or The Great One
 Other mountains in the range

 Trisha got some fantastic shots with different settings

 Beautiful fireweed
 Denali in the distance, over Trisha's left shoulder

 The Tolkat is called a braided river, with rivulets of water flowing around small, temporary silt formed islands or braids

 The tundra

 Caribou high up on a ridge, but the camera's zoom got pretty close

 Love these colors!

 the way the clouds would shift throughout the day was just stunning

 Some more views of the braided rivers--due to all the silt and glacier crush coming down it will never completely fill; over twenty major glaciers in the park contribute to this

Just look at these varied colors!

Polychrome Mountain
Some of our group climbing up a short trail on one of our stops, to get some better views

First grizzly sighting

Our group on the bus
Nyla, making sure everyone got back on the bus after a stop

These caribou had apparently seen or scented a grizzly and were looking pretty cautious!

And here comes Mr. Bear

Caribou herd

These cyclists are hard core--the park road is 92 miles long!
Another grizzly
Here, we were able to get the grizzly and caribou in the same shot, pretty amazing!  The bear seemed more interested in the soapberries than the caribou, however.

At the visitor center, Trisha doing her best imitation of Fannie Quigley, a roadhouse proprietor who also was a very successful hunter in the early days of the gold rush
They had these caribou antlers for playing and posing, and, of course we could not resist!!

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