Wednesday, August 25, 2010

dalton highway....four

after waking dry and somewhat warm the best was yet to come. if i ever do this drive again i will rush to the area north of the atigun pass and savor it for a good long week before returning. we saw hundreds of caribou and many musk ox. it was a day of pure joy.
the musk ox are the most wonderful beasts. look at this baby, could anything be more beautiful. and that long coat of hair. impressive. they are large and appear so gentle. no doubt if angered it could get ugly, but we just quietly watched from afar. of course, blossom let out a few muffled barks and rio caught the new and exciting scent and was itching to get out of the car and investigate. these two pictures are my favorite musk ox photo's. gotta love that sweet babies face.
thier heads are huge, but regal somehow. i'd been told if you want to see musk ox to just drive that last 30-40 miles over and over again. we saw plenty just driving up and back. not sure if that is how it always is or if we just got lucky, buti think we were all satisfied with our wildlife viewing that day. i decided the first day was scenery and the second was animals.
these show off thier cousin it hairdo's. there is a store in town that i stopped by that makes scarves and such out of the hair of musk ox. they promise it's not itchy like wool is. the scarves i felt were very soft. they are the same colour as seen, not dyed. very expensive stuff, but quite fine. the natives have different patterns that they have created in the various regions, much like the basketry is identifiable by region so is the pattern they knit. knitting was a learned skill that many natives have florished at. it's not a skill i have ever gotten the knack of. i did put in for a drawing for one of these scarfs.
the milepost said that often animals can be seen hanging near the pipeline. i guess it's a bit warmer there. the oil does come out of the earth at a fairly high temperature....must be pretty far down there. i remember something like 140 degrees F. the book also said the bears like to use the posts to scratch. there isn't much else out there so i'm sure they improvise.
we saw hundreds and hundreds of caribou. we never seemed to drive many miles before another bunch of them would turn up. it was with caribou that we had the only breach in the car order. the caribou crossed over the road. i didn't catch them on the road. i really wanted to give the caribou alot of room to move. i could tell that they had cars on the road to deal with and then there were hunters scattered about as well. i'm sure it was a stressful day for the caribou. that was why i was not closing in on them. some things are more important than the perfect picture in my mind. sometimes too, i've learned you have to set the camera down and just observe the beauty of the animals.
there are just things that you can't catch on film and it's best to just burn it into your memory.
it's amazing to watch them run though, it's truely a thing of beauty and to see so many of these animals at one time was just such a treat. again, i have no idea how common sightings of the caribou were up there, but i really feel like we were gifted with many great interactions with these beautiful animals.

i especially loved when the herds entered the water or like this one ran through the bogs and muskeg. it's so wet and i just loved seeing the water splashing around as they moved and ran.
i should have taken video, i think you just get so excited you just keep taking pictures and forget you have other options. i did the same thing today. there were many, many beluga whales out on turnigan. i kept attempting to take individual pictures of beluga's and i probably should have just gotten some video. that is for another day.
loved the reflection here.
more pipeline shots. don't worry, i won't post all the caribou and musk ox photo's i took.

we could look off in the distance and see more of the herds out there. those creatures were everywhere and the land is barren of trees which makes sighting them easier. way off in the distance you could see the spots of them. they were everywhere! yeah!!

they look so regal when they stand like this.
we had sun all day here today. i drove the dogs slowly to seward, stopping to watch beluga's and walk to byron glacier. blossom had a blast playing on the snow. i think she'd be perfectly happy if winter lasted all year, though she does seem to enjoy the lakes being thawed.
there were a few groups of hunters around these guys i think, there were hundreds again in this group and we watched them for some time.
this is where silly me should have gotten out the video. it was so cool to watch them all cross this water. they are fine swimmers.

this was our first musk ox sighting. we were so excited. we were in an area of road work so it was tough to pull over and get our pictures, though there wasn't any road crew with the equipment so we just pulled over anyway. who doesn't pull over when spotting a musk ox for hte first time.

loved the caribou in the fog in the distance.
just more fall colours
i believe this was our first caribou sighting of the day and trip. you take several pictures for fear you'll never see another....which turned out to be unnecessary, we saw many others. still...he's our first!

that morning soon after we started driving we saw this collection of sheep on the mountainside.
they looked cool with the little mixture of fall colours. wished i had a bigger zoom at this point, oh well. happy i didn't have to lug more equipment than i already had.
fall leaves
just some random pictures i tossed in that i figured i'd missed in my confusion of the past few days. now i'm just sleepy beyond reason.
i watched a movie, "julie and julia" while loading pictures and washing/drying my sheets. had to make the bed with blossom on them. i often have to put my nursing skills to work as blossom always chooses that time to settle on the bed for some odd reason.

road and pipeline....and some fall colours tossed in the mix.
this is one of several pump stations we passed along the route.
cute sign welcoming you to joy that i forgot to add in.

before i fall asleep in the keys i shall say goodnight and sleep tight!

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