Sunday, April 22, 2012

a day trip to denali national park...

the road is open to the public for the first 30 miles. usually you have to ride the bus so it's nice these few times of year when it's free for all. at the end of the season they have a lottery for late september and in the spring they just open it up. nice in the spring as fewer people are on the road. still quite a few though were out there.
a few caribou sightings as well. on the way back. driving in i saw no signs of animals. tough though as there is still quite alot of snow out there. this year we just all had so much more snow up here in alaska. it's been several years since i did this spring trek and i'm not sure what date i went on the last time. saw lots of caribou that time, but much less snow that trip as well.
as you can see my photo's loaded correctly. i found a button that allowed me to return to the old format for blogger. my last post with it's sideways pictures will remain as a silent protest...and because i'm too lazy to try and figure out how to correct it. thanks blogger.
a day trip to denali national park is doable, but it's not an easy undertaking. it's a 5 hour drive from anchorage so 10 hours driving time, plus i stayed in the park 3 hours. left anchorage just before 11am and got to the park right before 4pm. i'd decided to shoot to leave the park by pm so that i would have most of my drive back in day light. luckily the sun is staying out later. pretty much had some light through to willow so really just the last hour and a half of night driving.
just tough to see those big moose out there at night. for me anyway. oncoming traffic with thier bright lights just creats a flash of blindness and you just hope a moose isn't popping out. saw 1 moose on the way up, 3 on the way back. didn't slam on my brakes for photo ops of moose. if you have meandered my blog you would know that there is no shortage of moose pictures in here.the caribou were a lovely treat though. always hoping for a lynx or wolverine, but they are pretty unlikely sightings in these conditions. didn't even see any rabbits or ptarmigan. oh well. the scenery was beautiful and the caribou made me happy. you just never know what you will see each time you go, that is why i feel so fortunate to live close enough to some of the most beautiful parks in the world. i can take a day every so often and see what there is to see.wasn't a bright, sunny day as today probably would have been. had i planned better i would have camped out for the night and enjoyed a second day with all the new stuff one can see on a repeat. i'm happy to be home again though. got home by 11:30 last night. i think the dogs were happy too. camping out would have been a bit uncomfortable and chilly. survivable though...campgrounds are all still covered in snow and most places are closed for the winter still. liked sandra's idea of trying to rent the byers cabin for a day or two this time of year next year. will try for that. maybe a spring weekend and a summer weekend. love that place!it rained a bit on the way up and on the way back, but not a drop the entire 3 hours i was in the park.was bummed out at mile post 223! saw some eagle activity. turns out there is what looked like a caribou carcass (hopefully roadkill and not some arsehole poacher). anyway. would have been an awesome eagle shot. when i approached at 60 mph there was one bald eagle on the rib cage and another close by. my attempted to stop caused them all to fly off. i tried to wait em out, but i was on a bit of a schedule. so anyone driving north slow up and try to get that shot...someone should! cool just to see a baldie perched on a ribcage. does that make me a freak? a couple in a motor home at the turnaround had spotted two caribou. they had a labradoodle so we got to chatting. from thier vantage point with the non-driver lookout they were able to spot them again and share with me and this other guy who was out there. then this larger group crossed the road right in front of them. very cool. i jumped out of my car and got a few pictures on the road, then drove further up and got the ones after they'd crossed. liked the third one from the top just cause the one caribous head is right there in the antlers of the body was a bit sore after doing all that driving. blossom and i managed to get out for a walk. we headed to potter to mchugh on turnigan arm. that trail is usually the first clear of snow. was surprised at how much snow still remains. will post those pictures tomorrow along with the final monday walk of the season...if anyone else shows up.the first caribou sightings of the day.the pussywillows are starting to shoot out, other than those i saw no signs of life.took a zillion pictures at this spot on the drive in. they do not do the place justice. it was just amazing. loved the colours of the ice. included more than i should have but much less than i took!just fun to see all the changes that happen to this land. it's spectacular and it all happens to rapidly. you will never see seasons change as fast as they do in this land. i'm always in awe at this place and how it alters and adapts to the temperature and light changes.not sure, but i may or may not have spotted a black bear on that trail today. several people out on the trail and since that one dries fastest it usually also sees early bear activity. there was what i thought may be a large black dog in the distance at this creek. i approached very slowly, hoping some people would show up and that would really just be a black dog. the "dog" disappeared and no people showed up for some time. the pair that showed up had no dog. hmm...i really have to hunt down my bear spray. we did have bells on. saw one moose out there...and the bear, maybe?a drive like that is always so relaxing. my voice was gone from singing along to the ipod for all those hours. that thing is the best for road trips. i rarely use it otherwise, exept when i play drums. strange on the drive back it rained for the most part, fairly hard at times, yet this sunshine kept me toasty on the car as it was coming from the west side.a few more from the drive home. no huge spectacular sunset, but these clouds were pretty.also never saw teh big mountain. stopped in cantwell for gas. see that $4.84 cent/gallon, they apparently don't believe in cleaning thier bathrooms there. end of the road in denali. 30 miles in. took the girls for a walk post sign. road still looked nice that we walked on. not sure if they'll open it further, though i think i made it to this nice visitors center last time so i'll keep watchng the paper. perhaps they'll open it further right before tourist season. may be worth a second look and a campout. who knows.the dogs eat in denali at break spot before turn around. did plan well enough for that and took my sleeping bag just in case i needed to crash in the car for a has odd driving habits and once again refused to pee until we'd returned home. so she pee'd when i walked the dogs up and down patterson before we left and refused until midnight-ish when we returned home. it's not that she wouldn't pee ever. she'd been on road trips before with out issues, but she will hold off forever! drives me nuts! just pee already!blossom walks on the river ice. one of our pee stops. blossom utilzes her breaks effectively. that darn rio.usually i would enjoy a walk here. trail is coated in snow. this is the spot at mile 15 that you are usually turned back in private cars.need to get booking. gotta feed the dogs and get to the pool. thought i'd try and get this in on the road in denalipark entrance.back to that same spot where i obsessively took pictures on the drive in. despite the clouds and occasional rain it still was a beautiful drive up and back. lucky for me it rained harder on the way back or i would have been tempted to keep taking pictures.this spot looked absolutely stunning, but the photo's all totally unimpressed me.a few more and i'm off to swim. think the pool will feel great tonight after my long drive.not sure what causes the colour change. must be loaded with iron. i'm guessing that is in the bog water here too. i always just think it looks all polluted, but this is in the national park and not polluted so my water in the bog may just be mineral rich.lots of little water tricklings, but it is kinda strange that there aren't the huge dramatic waterfalls on the main road that one would expect.the park is beautiful anytime, any day! always worth a stopall the caribou scattered out there before i drove on after watching them a bit.another river crossing. a small one. a look in either directiona few more scenery shots...and i am off to!!sorry to be abrupt...the pool is waiting!!


  1. Denali is one of the places I hope I'll visit in my life. I have a book about a norwegian couple who hiked there for several months - so love that book!

  2. it's an amazing place. i know i haven't taken advantage of it enough myself. doing an extended hike is on my list too.