Day 21, Wednesday, 5/9/18
Denali National Park, Alaska

After we thawed out and had a hot breakfast, it was off to the visitor center where I borrowed some snow shoes. The park lends out snowshoes and grips - a nice preseason benefit! Our first stop on the park road was at the Mountain Vista trailhead. There's a short walking loop where we found at least a half dozen moose in the fields munching away. The field had small stands of spruce here and there, making the moose hard to see until we rounded a bend and there they were. One of the male moose stopped eating and looked directly at us, ears a bit flattened. We may have been close to violating his personal space, so we backed away. There were also quite a few rabbits on the trail.

Male with new antler growth
Ptarmigan loosing its winter color

People were practicing driving the park buses today, driving in and out of the trailhead parking lot.
Back in the van, we drove to the Savage River trailhead. I put on the snowshoes and took a 2 mile walk into the canyon cut by the river. I was hoping to see sheep, but no luck. No bears either! The squirrels were everywhere, running along the rocks. The parking lot was visible for about a 1/4 mile until the trail took a right deeper into the canyon. It wasn't difficult to think I was in the middle of a wilderness, which, except for the parking lot, is exactly that! While I hiked, Chris sketched the river, the tundra and the mountains.

Savage River Canyon
Savage River Canyon
Savage River Canyon Resident

Bert and Ernie, Mew gulls
On the return from the canyon walk, these guys were keeping an eye on me, probably looking for a handout. It's illegal to feed any of the animals in the park. Still, with the number of people coming through in a summer it's probably not unusual for a scrap of something to be left behind.

The clouds started to come in and it looked like it might rain. Big, dark spherical clouds. However, as we drove southward to the park entrance, the clouds disappeared and it even got hot (60 - 65 F!)

Heading back to the campsite, we checked to see if the moose were still at Mountain Vista. Yup. Just 1/8th of a mile in the river valley adjacent to the Vista, here was a grizzly walking around. This is why you need to carry bear spray and make noise when hiking in these parts. The bear spray is a last resort deterrence, the noise is to give the bears a warning that humans are coming - no surprises!

Back at the site, we decided to take a ride up to Healy just to look around. Healy is 10 miles from the park entrance. On the way back, we stopped at Prospector's for a beer (they had a huge tap selection) and ended up sharing a pizza. Back at the site, the air temp was probably 60 or so with no wind. we played a game of cribbage - Chris won. Another great day!

1 comment:

  1. Did you lose your ability to post? Hopefully not a wildlife incident! Enjoyed reading these and seeing the pictures. What an adventure.