Thursday, August 22, 2013

On my first day off I made the first venture into Denali National Park. If your not familiar with much at all about Alaska like I was before I came here, the park access is essentially one well maintained gravel road 92 miles long. Tamiko and I took one of the green park buses, the only vehicles allowed past the 15 mile point. We rode to Eielson, a point which is arguably the best viewing spot of Mount McKinely. 

This is a couple from Switzerland we met who have been traveling around the US for the last 6 months. They were going to camp out at Eielson. 

All of the trips past the 15 mile mark into the park start here at the Wilderness Access Center, or WAC for short. You board one of the green park buses driven by mostly retirees  who are much more that just bus drivers. They have become expert wildlife spotters and fantastic tour guides. They will stop for as long as it takes for everyone to see and get a picture of what's been spotted, bear, moose, caribou, dall sheep, or ptarmigan's the Alaska state bird.

Some bull caribou. I learned they have antlers, not horns which unlike horns, fall off and they grow a new set every year.   

This is Polychrome Overlook. Near the mountain of the same name with a height of 5,970 ft. So named because of the multicolored rock.

Sitting on the edge of the road looking out over Polychrome Pass at the Alaska Range. The park road travels the north side of this range of mountains which leads to the highest peak in North America, Mount McKinley at 23,20 ft. The south peak being the highest, the north peak rises to 19,470 ft.

Looking to the South East at Polychrome Pass.

Looking down from my perch on this steep hill of Polychrome Pass to the river below.

Looking at the Polychrome Glacier. 

The spots in some of the images are due to some dirt in the camera which I hope it's been remedied, we'll see.

We saw and stopped at every wildlife sighing the bus had. Some of the bears we say were as close as 100 ft. from the bus. For the most part they're attention was almost completely consumed with eating berries which I'm told this has been an exceptionally good year for the berries. The drive would cut off the engine so everyone could get there pictures when the driver would crank up to move on, the bear didn't seem to notice at all, just kept on eating berries.

A mama Grizzly bear and her two cubs on a nearby hill side.
One of the cubs looking out over the ridge.

 Mount McKinley or Denali which is Koyukon Athbaskan for "The High One"

A ranger informed us a new record had been set this year, the oldest person yet, a 78 year old man, had climbed Denali. Perhaps one day I will add my name to that list.

 A white board just inside the Eielson Visitors Center. Sadly, I'm reminded that this date is also the seven year anniversary of the day my twin brother David died. To his memory,


It's not as expensive as I thought to climb Mt. McKinley but is something to be undertaken only by well trained and able climbers.

I asked my friend Tamiko to take a picture of me in front of Mount McKinkley or Denali and as she was taking it I was looking back at her and noticed something a little funny. This was one of the first several attempts, my bad, I should have said next to.

As a tribute to a job well done and encouragement to my friend Joni Berg who has a great desire to climb Denali one day, I wore the tee shirt which she designed the graphic for the North Florida Cruisers Club. Dreams do come true!


A short 360 degree video at Eielson and a zoom in view of Mount McKinley.

This little Arctic Ground Squirrel was living on the hill in front of the Eielson Visitors Center. He ran around and grabbed a mouth full of grass and was so nice as he stood about ten feet in front of me a posed for me like he he was taking direction, turn left, now right, straight ahead, now look cute. That's a wrap!



This was the sun set at 10:15 PM when we got back to the Wilderness Access Center from our 66 mile trip into Denali National Park, just about an hour before it got dark. All this daylight is fantastic, but it also makes me wonder how the equal amount of dark during the winter must feel like. 
Hoping for another day like this when I can go all the way to the end of the 92 mile park road to Kantishna or take a plane and land on a nearby glacier.

1 comment:

  1. wonderful pics Dan...makes me want to return even more...maybe next summer