On my second trip down the 92 mile Denali National Park road Tamiko and I went to Wonder Lake at the 85 mile mark an then hiked 4 more miles to the north end of wonder lake. The sky that day was exceptionally clear, the bright sun lending spectacular effect from the sky and off the water.
Having heard so much acclaim of the beauty in Alaska I intentionally held my judgement in reserve. When I first came here I thought, ya those are mountains but I've seen bigger, the Appalachians are much more dense with a large diversity of trees that form a canopy creating a beautiful shaded forest. However, by now I'm only beginning see why so many people rave about the beauty of Alaska. It's not just the beauty of the landscape, it's the uniqueness spurred from this cold climate, the cycle of seasons, the animals and plant life that exist within it. The permafrost, which is permanently frozen ground, allows only a thin active layer of thawed ground above the frozen for vegetation to grow. Dwarf vegetation which consists mainly of shrubs, sedges, grasses, mosses, and lichens grow and trees which may not be very tall but could be very old because they don't have much ground to root in. All these things bring together the special diversity which makes this place so unique. It is truly a magical place.
As one example of the amazing diversity the very next day we hiked the Oxbow Trail again, just on the other side of the river from the lodge. I've never seen so many different types of mushrooms in one location. There must have been a dozen or more types. I took plenty of pictures which will be posted soon.
Out of the almost 300 pictures I took this day, these are a little over 60 which I think are the best. To all the photog's who might be interested, the information about how and what I took these pictures with is at the end of this post.
The morning saw temperatures at 40 degrees which made for just a little frost in some of the shaded areas.
Looking west from the Toklat Comfort Station
The driver stops the bus at any animal sighting and everyone so everyone can get a good shot.
Stony Overlook is the first really good view of Mt. McKinley at the 62 mile mark.
What can I say, WOW!
Looking south at the Alaska Range
Grizzly bear just before the Eielson Visitors Station
A video of this Grizzly just and view of Mt. McKinley.
Mt. McKinley from the Eielson Visitors Center
Diorama of Mt. McKinley showing one of the routes to the highest point, the south peak at 20,320 feet.
Some of the tundra beginning to turn color at Wonder Lake
View of the north peak of Mt. McKinley across a little lake known as Reflection Pond next to Wonder Lake. This is where the pictures you may have seen with Mt. McKinley reflecting off the water are taken.
The pine cones only grow near the top of the spruce trees.
Interesting the pine cones are brown in the tree to the left and more red in the one on the right.
Looking across Wonder Lake
From the top of Blueberry Hill, north end of Wonder Lake
I took the little guy home as a souvenir. Hard to tell but my hand is in the water.
This I think is one of the best shots of the day
Not sure what kind of ducks these are but they look like Mallards and were feeding off the bottom like they do.
A short video of the ducks at Wonder Lake.
Yes, the blueberries were plentiful and very sweet.
I just couldn't take too many pictures of Mt. McKinley, it was so beautiful!
On the way back, at Eielson again looking south at the Alaska Range.
The Alaska state bird, the Ptarmigan.
A big bull caribou came down the hill and waked down the road behind us.
I hope you enjoyed viewing these pictures as much I did taking them. It was an immensely enjoyable day with phenomenal viewing conditions. Tamiko and I had a great time right up until we got separated and she had to catch the last bus further into the park to the end of the road to Kantishna at the 92 mile point in order to get back.
Catching the last bus out was what she had feared and ironically exactly what happened. She stayed on the road and I thought she caught an earlier bus back. When she tried to wave the bus down it didn't stop. Although we were a short distance apart, we missed each other. She became distressed at not knowing where I was and had to go to the rangers station for help in getting back. It was only about 4:00, but from the end of the park road where we were it is a 5 or 6 hour ride back. The round trip to Wonder Lake at 85 miles is an 11 hour affair.
Tamiko is so outgoing she makes friends with everyone. She found two co-workers who gave her a ride from where the buses drop off at the Wilderness Access Center (WAC) to the Lodge. I, on the other hand got back a little earlier but had to walk from the WAC 2 miles to "Glitter Gulch" and catch a bus back from The Salmon Bake. One things for sure, when ever we travel together we'll won't let this happen again.
Although she had to catch the last bus which went a few miles further to the end of the road to Kantishna at 92 miles and then turn around to go back, one good thing came out of it was that she made it to Kantishna and got a picture with this sign at the end.
For all the curious photog's I shot these pictures with my point and shoot Panasonic DMC-ZS7. It has a 12x optical zoom and will zoom out to about 42 digital. All of the pictures are shown just as shot, none of them were Photoshopped or cropped.