Sunday, July 26, 2009

Denali Park

Up at 5AM to catch our 6AM bus ride into the Park. 90 miles in, then lunch and then 90 miles out. 13 hrs. expected for the round trip.
Mt. Mckinley is only visible 20% of the time, so we beat those odds and our bus driver of 19 years said we had a view of the mountain only seen by 8% of the 20% that do see it. I figured things can go bad in a hurry, as he stopped so we could take pics of very faint peak 70 miles away. The pic below as at about 40 miles out.

About 20 miles out.

Looking across Wonder Lake.
Saw grizzly bear (3), lynx (1), fox (2), moose (1), family of ptarmigan, geese and swans and caribou (6-8) heading in. Not as many animals as normal. Speculation is that the day was too sunny and warm and most of the animals were seeking shade.

Grizzly bear.
The driver told us of a bicyclists in the park that came up on a bear in the road. He got off his bike to get closer for pictures and when the bear advanced, he ran off...leaving his bike. The bear chewed on the handle bars (sweat/salt?) and took the water bottle filled with Gatorade. The bear was now conditioned, look for humans, chase them away and get rewarded.
This is exactly what Denali Park is trying to avoid. Even when we stopped for a break with cookies and coffee, we could not eat outside the bus. All the cookies had to stay in the bus. They want zero food in the park that can be found by the animals.

Another reason when I bike tomorrow I think I'll stay out of the Park.

Red foxes.Video of Lynx. The magpie was on it like crazy. I wonder if the Lynx was after it's young. Very rare sighting but with the hare population up for the past few years, there are more Lynx than normal in the park.

There were plenty of views not of Mt. McKinley that were of interest. Glacial stream.

Locked antlers of 2 moose.
After lunch, they were looking for folks that wanted to fly out. One person was signed up and they wanted at least 4. I asked how many the plane could take and he said 5. So, I asked for a special deal if we could get 4 more and we got them.
We figured if the day was that special based on the weather, we needed to take advantage of it. Also, we had seen enough animals and the bus ride back would be 5 hrs. vs. a 1 hr. flight and that included buzzing Mt. Mckinley for 30 minutes.

IT WAS AWESOME! See the pics and vids below and judge for yourself.

Aine (Irish for Ann) our pilot.
20 miles out.

A little closer.
Down to hundreds of feet, the peak staring at us.Glaicers.
Brooks Glacier.

Other side of the plane.
The peak from the side.
Been there, done that! Rafting.


Coming up to the peak

THE Peak




Nick said...

the flight looks like it was awesome. Similar to the planes I flew in FL except it looks like it is a tail dragger?

mark scotch said...

yep, tail dragger.

Nick said...

The grass landing strip is really cool, too.