Sunday, August 13, 2017

Denali National Park: Part 4

Now traveling towards Wonder Lake, the afternoon gets later, temperatures warmer (it's 75 degrees by now) and the clouds begin to pull that curtain up over Denali.

Below is beautiful Wonder Lake, where reflections of Denali Mountain make a photographer's dream come true.  They say timing is everything and today ours is not quite there..too late in the day for calm lake water reflections and mountain clouds are in the way.  No is still perfect.

The crystal clear and cold waters of Wonder Lake.

Wendy, our shuttle bus driver, continues on to Kantishna.  The surrounding tundra landscape appears calm and serene now, but in about 2 months.. it will be cold, white and windy.

The unincorporated community of Kantishna, which shuts down all services by the second week in September, offers a collection of high-end rustic lodges, an air strip and wilderness trails.  Kantishna, the site of a 1905 gold strike in this area of Denali National Park has a storied history rich with colorful characters, a few abandoned buildings and relics of those old gold mining days of the past. The 92 mile dirt road is actually the old mining road to Kantishna. After a very quick restroom break, it is time to make the journey back to Denali National Park's Main Visitor Center. 

The low angle of the sun's rays make the return mountain views appear like we're on a whole new, different road.

I do not know what the drop offs here were in feet but this section of the road was a bit scary.  There were no guard rails.  Both drivers maneuvered the section cautiously and slowly.  We never did met another bus so I'm not sure how that is handled.  When other buses were met, they both slowed to a stop with the one traveling up hill always having the right-of-way.

This shuttle bus was in front of ours.  I was able to capture this photo out of my window.

We enjoy a few more caribou and bear sightings on the way back from Kantishna and also on our second day's trip from Eielson Visitor Center. This makes for a perfect ending to our highly anticipated trip to Denali National Park.

Another caribou in the road and this one starts running towards our shuttle bus! Because we scored front seats on this second trip, I'm able to get a really good look.

Cottengrass blowing in the wind.

We saw several moose however I only got this one photograph, just too busy looking.

I'll finish my posts with these inspiring words from John Muir, found at the Eielson Visitor Center.

What an unforgettable memory and experience we have enjoyed, no doubt a highlight of our special time here in Alaska. 

More Later..
from Fairbanks.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Denali National Park: Part 3

On our first day's excursion, the view of Denali from Eielson Visitor Center was almost cloudless.  On our next day's trip of 66 miles, the clouds had moved in and our view of  Denali was obstructed. We are sure glad we were able to make that previous day's trip.  It appears we're a part of the 30% club, those who see all of Denali.

Brain, day two's shuttle bus driver, reminded us to notice the two moose antlers that are locked together at the Visitor Center.  It seems these moose were in a territorial battle and when their horns became entangled, they could not escape the lock.  They died on the spot and their discovered antlers became a part of this outside display at Eielson Visitor Center.

Remodeled in 2008, this modern building blends in with the landscape and incorporates sustainable methods and materials.
Our cloud covered view of Denali and the surrounding mountain range on day two's shuttle trip.

With all modern facilities and informative, interactive displays, Eielson Visitor Center is a must stop for most Denali tourists on the 92 mile road.  It's usually open by June 1 and closes its doors by the second Thursday after Labor Day.

This outstanding fiber painting..or quilt..called "The Seasons Of Denali" highlights the back wall and just draws the viewer towards its remarkable beauty.  In my research about the artist Ree Nancarrow, she too was a part of the Denali's "Artist-in-Residence" Program. 

Our drastically different view of Denali from the shuttle bus, day two's trip to Eielson Visitor Center. 
It is hard to leave this beautiful place but our schedule dictates that we must if we're to reach the end of the Park road and still have time to travel back to the main visitor center within our 12 hour time frame.  So, onward Wendy drives our shuttle bus, filling almost every minute of it with a fun fact, an animal story or pointing out points of interest along this ever-climbing, narrow dirt mountain road.

We are almost there to the end of our 92 mile journey, Wonder Lake and the Kantishna stop.

More Later
Denali: Lastly, Part 4