Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Alaska Bits -- 15 -- Denali


That is the Athabascan name for it, though you may have learned in years past that Mt. McKinley is the highest peak in North America.

We had seen Denali as we flew into Anchorage. We saw Denali from Anchorage. We saw Denali when flying from Anchorage to Fairbanks. And we saw Denali from the train from Fairbanks.

When we got to Denali, we were among the nearly 70% of short time visitors who never see the mountain. This is all we saw.

Denali is hidden there in the clouds beyond that lesser peak. The only way we saw the mountain while there was in this quilt panel on display at the Eielson Visitor Center.You can see the lower peak in front of the mountain in the panel.

At Denali National Park, however, just as at Mt. Rainier, when you can't see the mountain, there are many other things to see. Mainly, animals.

As we traveled on the shuttle bus into the park (private vehicles can only go about 18 miles in. The bus goes to the Eielson Visitor Center at the 67 mile mark.) we had quite a few opportunities to view the critters. Some from the bus and others at points where we were able to get out and walk a little ways.

These two Dall Sheep were what the

photographers on the bus had in their viewfinders. Earlier in the day they had been in the distance sitting on a hill. We got out of the bus and hiked to the top of a nearby hill for a better look. On our return trip, they had moved to pose for us just off the road. We could not get off the bus, as the drivers are required to respect the animals' space.

These three young sheep were crossing a braided riverbed in the distance on our way to Eielson.

Brown Bears--Grizzlies. We didn't much mind staying on the bus and using our zooms to see them. You can see the hump on his back, sign of a grizzly, but not necesary to see it to know is is grizzly because there are no Black Bears in this part of Alaska.

We saw a total of ten or twelve grizzlies...

...including these three sleepy ones.

Two Golden Eagles--this one is immature.
Arctic Ground Squirrels have a lot in common with their cousins in the Lower 48.

They have become habituated  to human visitors.

They like to beg.

A pair of moose antlers locked show what can happen when two males engage in battle during rut.

But this moose family was in a more amicable mood. Unusual--at this time of year the bulls do not normally hang out with the cows and the youngsters.


Mary said...

Wow...lots of animals. I like how they worded the sign for the squirrels :-) Hopefully the 2-legged "squirrels" will read it. It is hard to resist cute little ground squirrels in any state.

Mary said...

That quilt is wonderful!