Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Alaska Diary - Denali National Park - Part VIII

The summer solstice, Tuesday, June 20, 2000:
We were aboard one of the first buses to leave the Visitor Center for an eight hour ride into Denali National Park.  It's buses only on this gravel road.  Our bus driver provided excellent commentary but little was really neccesary as this vast expanse of wilderness spoke for itself. Actually much of it simply defies description.

Everybody, of course, had cameras. But some were loaded down with backpack camping equipment. The bus driver explained that these intrepid souls would be dropped off at anyplace of their choosing along the route. They will be picked up on their return by any passing bus provided, there is room. I have always considered myself somewhat of an adventurer, having wilderness camped in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness and hiked many a trail, flyfishing remote parts of Montana. I shook my head admiringly at these young adverturers, thinking of the vast untamed space all around us.

The bus driver laid out a few rules and said he would stop whenever anyone wished. If you spotted some wildlife, with the driver being 12 o'clock you would shout out the animals position, he would stop so everyone could quickly orient toward the picture target . I was the first to call out "Grizzly bear at 2 o'clock." And pulled out my little point & shoot.....

She was slowly coming down a gully to a small creek, which was still partially covered with ice. It was already a warm mornning for Alaska, in about the low seventies. We watched her mosey on down the creek bed till she dropped down out of sight. An ice water bath perhaps felt good.
It was a good beginning for animal watching in Denali. It's just not the same seeing these animals roaming free as opposed to behind bars at a zoo. Later, we saw another grizzly with two cubs, caribou, a golden eagle, willow ptarmigan, magpies, moose and lots of Dall sheep

We brought sack lunches with us and stopped midday for a picnic with a view.

A visitor joined us for lunch. He was a horny.... oops I mean hoary marmot.

Later, another creature, a hoary Barbot, err I meant horny Barbot, joined the festivities

It was the landscape that most impressed us all. This is near or above the arctic tree line. It seems you can see forever. Vast mountains ranges and huge watersheds fill the space. If any word besides the obvious cliches comes to mind it would be forbidding. Human beings and doings seem so insignificant here. It is nature in the raw.
A bus comes round the bend.

Picture this valley during the spring runoff. Permafrost lies beneath.

The Zebra mountains.
Next: On To Anchorage


  1. Thanks for the tour. That last creature is a little scary though. LoL

    I have to tell you again how I have been touched by your daughter-in-law's blog and the wonderful work she is doing. She is such a blessing. I am sure you are very proud of her.

  2. My goodness TB, I don't know where to start commenting on this one!!

    What a great idea it is that you can get off anywhere and hike. A lovely idea and something I would love to do in places I have been to.

    What great sightings you had. It seems like it was worth the long trip there. I would have been thrilled with the bear and her cubs.

    I am definitely NOT going to comment on the marmot/Barbot saga. LOL!!

    I can see where the Zebra Mountains got their name.

    A wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I too think the Zebra Mountains are well named. I love these pictures, and the adventure of it all! Thank you for this great post. More, please! :-)

  4. I am so pleased you shared this with us. Amazing views and animals. I often wonder how sheep and goats can climb to such heights and I would give a lot to see a grisly in real life.

  5. The trip of a lifetime? I think it would be for me.

  6. I would love to see this magnificent scenery in person, but for now I'll have to be content with your wonderful photos. I really like the picture of the Zebra Mountains.

  7. Hi,
    I sure do love this trip. I love the views and the photos of the wildlife.
    Keep it coming :-)

  8. I'm all smiles about the Barbot and the marmot! :-) Re your comment on my blog ... Interesting to hear your grandfather worked for the N.P. Did he collect stuff ... timetables, brochures, etc. ... and did you end up with it?

    1. No he died when I was a child. Though I know he went back to the 1880"s as a chef a top job in those days of coast to coast trains...:). He died in the late 40's very old...

  9. TB
    You were fortunate to see the grizzlys, I've been there several times and only seen them when hiking away from the roads.
    Nice pictures, sorry the mountain wasn't out for your visit. It's a remarkable sight.

  10. Great entry! And I really appreciate your efforts to convey the scope and majesty of that place, and your honest admission of the futility of the task, although I think you do a pretty good job. Your humility in the face of the endeavor is part of the reason.

    It's always tempting to wonder about the significance of wilderness, and point out the political dimensions of wilderness. There are people in public office right now who want to sell all that off, either exploit and spoil it or make it someone's private reserve, entry to you and I not permitted.

    I'd temper that by pointing out that a minority of Americans ever see such places -- I sometimes joke that if you visit a wilderness area in New Mexico the parking lot is full of Volvo station wagons -- which is true, but I'd point out that if we were a nation really concerned about each others' well being, instead of demonizing our teachers and cutting funds for schools, a public education would be expanded, to include long trips to places like that, so we'd all get to experience that sense of wonderment, and we'd all be pondering the significance of places like that.

  11. What an adventure for those backpackers...I suppose if I was 50 years younger! Barbot I bet you were in trouble for that one! Good thing she loves you! :)

  12. What a great adventure! I would have loved being one of the backpackers.
    Denali is on my lifetime wish list. Someday soon, I hope.