Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bus to Eielson Visitor Center during the autum colors and the 49th. Brewing Co.

We had planned on hiking this day, the hike which is described in the previous post "Hike around Cathedral Mountain near Sable Pass". However, is was somewhat colder and the wind was howling, way too cold for a comfortable hike so we chose to stay on the bus and ride to Eielson and back. Eielson is at the 66 mile mark on the 92 mile Denali Park Road and is said to be one of the best viewing points of Mt. McKinley.

 The story of this trip really started the night before around 2:00 AM. It was suppose to be a good night to see the aurora, but it's always a crap shoot as to whether on not they will come out and even so, clouds could block it. Russell, the night time front desk person made calls and texting trees were started because the lights were beginning to show but alas they only came up to a green glow. Only a little more impressive if viewed with a time lapsed picture. Since is was a little boring some one put on the moose suite just for fun but I think they may have put it on backwards. Although that picture was first I'm going to save it for last. The day ended with a trip to The 49th State Brewing Company, a really neat place where we had some good food, good beer and a lot of fun.

We saw some bear and moose on this trip into the park usual but not the best of sightings we've had. We did have one fantastic close up view of Dall Sheep. So here are about 50 of the best from the day and a few more of the 49th. 

We got on the bus  early hoping to get in a great day of hiking.

Looking down from a thousand foot drop from Polychrome Pass.

 A pretty neat looking cloud over Mt. McKinley.

 Tamiko had her backpack in her lap and during the ride her water bottle leaked, so she said.

The south peak was covered in clouds that day but the north peak and face of Denali
 was pretty clear.

Mt. Eielson, named after the man who first landed a plane on it's glacier.

 Pretty awesome even with just the north peak showing.

They don't show what the wind is but it had to be 20 and gusting. Here is a short video in front of the Eielson Visitor Center.


 That's Denali at the top center of this diorama.

 On the way back looking at Denali from Stony Overlook at the 62 mile point.

 We stopped to look at a mama bear and two cubs. They were kind of far away and busy eating berries as usual.

 The biggest surprise of the day happened at Toklat Comfort Station when we saw these Dall Sheep just across the river near the road but so unusually low on the mountain just a couple of hundred feet from the river. Most any time when Dall sheep are spotted they are so far up the mountain all you can make out is a little white dot so this was a special treat.

 The bus had pulled into the the comfort station on the other side of the river about three hundred yards from the bridge. While the bus would be taking it's usual ten minute stop before coming across the river and passing by where the sheep where, Tamiko and I decided to hike down the river bed to and across the bridge not wanting to miss getting closer before they might leave.  

 Near me at the best viewing spot came this guy dressed in camouflage with matching camera and tripod. Funny he has a yellow backpack. 

 Tamiko took a picture of me taking a picture of him but don't have it or I'd put it in here.

 Looking south down the Toklak riverbed. It seemed to be a day for small clouds hanging over the tops of some of the mountains.

 Heading back over Polychrome Pass I took this video. It can be a little scary looking down a thousand foot steep slope as the bus passes around the turns just a few feet from the edge. I apologize for the quality, I couldn't lower the window because the wind was blowing so hard the other passengers wouldn't have appreciated it and the sun was lighting up the marks and dirt on the windows.

 Not far from the road on a river bed we saw this young bull moose. At this time of the year they shed they're antlers.

We really haven't experienced the night night life in the area much since I've been here. So later that night we took a shuttle bus about 12 miles up the road to The 49th. State Brewery. They purchased two of the buses exactly like the one Christopher McCandless lived in not too far from here down Stampede Rd. and then some miles further out into the wilderness. Inside the bus are some pictures and excerpts from his journal.

A sad story of a young many looking to find meaning in life who if he had taking a little more preparation would have survived. 

 The 49th. is a pretty neat bar with a great food menu. This blond mannequin riding a bear with a fishing pole represents the graphic for one of there micro brews.

They not only have there own brews but beers from all over the world. 

 Tamiko found a hulu hoop and wanted to show me how good she still is. Yep, definitely is and certainly better than me. We were having so much fun we missed the 8:00 shuttle bus and had to wait until 9:40 to catch the next one. It was time for these old people to get home and go to bed. The young crowd starts parting at 11:00 around here.

 The mountains where we live prevent us from seeing these gorgeous sunsets like this one where the 49th is located near the town of Healy.

This is what happens in the middle of the night when their is no aurora to look at. The Alaskan moose have been know to get frisky!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hike around Cathedrial Mountian near Sable Pass

This was the last hike we did in the park before Tamiko had to leave. We got off the bus around the 39 mile point near Sable Pass and hiked down a steep slope, flowed a small stream around the side of Cathedral Mountain by a couple of small ponds to be rewarded with a fantastic view of the Teklanika River flowing off the Alaska Range to our right as this ribbon river goes around Cathedral Mountain.

The colors were in full bloom but the weather was iffy that day as there were huge rain clouds to the south over the range. Our greatest fear was that the wind would pick up to an uncomfortable 20 or 30 mph like we've seen before along with a heavy rain. Getting caught like that several miles from the road would make for a very unpleasant hike back. Luckily the wind only got up to about 15 mph and only several light rain clouds passed over us. Several times during the day the sun broke through the clouds on us or a nearby mountain illuminating the scene like a brilliant spot light. All and all it turned out to be a fantastic day and a beautiful hike. We saw a beautiful low rainbow lots of animal tracks there scat, and got a great video of some Ptarmigan with the sounds they make.


I have never seen a rainbow so low. Tamiko is in the lower left.


We had to do a little bushwhacking to find a spot to cross the stream.

This looked like the best spot to cross the stream on this log and some rocks. Made it across and back with not a single wet foot!

The cotton blooms on top of the Fireweed signaling the beginning of winter. A friend commented that the four Alaska seasons are, June, July, August, and winter.

The typical light to medium drizzle when it rains.

A little chilly but not too bad.

Not sure what animal this belonged to, maybe a Dall sheep.

A happy Tamiko!

Wolfe scat, you can tell by the fur in it and no its not mine.

Bear scat

Moose tracks. Must have been a pretty big fella.

An accidental video. If you listen close you can hear a short exchange we had which was typical that day. After several more of these we made it to the ridge overlooking the river. I never convinced her but then again she didn't have much choice but to follow me.

Caribou tracks

We’re almost to the edge of the ridge overlooking the Teklanika River. I mistakenly call it the Toklak River in the video. Again you can see how enthusiastic Tamiko is. She really is having a good time. 

Looking south to the Alaska Range and the ominous clouds that threatened us thru the day.

Some times it cleared a little. A great shot by Tamiko.

Looking south down the river around Cathedral Mountain.

Onward to the last rise over the river, our destination and our turnaround point, by Tamiko.

More good blue berry pickin!


Haven't been able to identify this yet, maybe Ptarmigan.


Ptarmigan, the state bird. You can hear the noise they make and the patients I have when Tamiko gets in front of the video. They do fly but run around on the ground for most part


Back across the stream and up the slope to catch the next park bus passing by.

Tamiko hiking up the hill to the park road.

Having brought my swimming trunks just in case I found some warm water but not finding any, it would be a shame to go home having brought them for nothing. So we took this not so typical park sign picture.

We hiked two more miles from the Wilderness Access Center where the bus dropped us off the the Chalet in town to get something to eat. Tamiko was so hungry and ready to eat. Along the way I noticed something strange, she was walking right beside me instead of way behind as usual. I can remember a few times when I said to her, "stop talkin and start walkin". I guess all she needed is the right motivation!