On the Road Adventures
Sunday, June 28, 2009
June 25 - Denali
Yes, this is really Denali, taken with my very own camera. The day started with a perfect, cloudless sky, a big improvement over yesterday, even if there was a brisk, chilly wind blowing. We said sad farewells to Pam and Dave, and a little later, Bob and Sharon, and then packed ourselves up to move into the park at Savage River Campground. It is 15 miles into the park, and is as far as private vehicles are allowed to go. We knew there was a spot along the road where Denali was supposed to be visible, so as we drove along we were watching, watching. Is that it? Could it be that mountain? And then it came into view and there was no doubt whatsoever. Denali, all bold and blue and white, just towered over every other peak within sight. It was an absolutely perfect, Chamber-of-Commerce view of the mountain. This makes us members in good standing of the 30% club, the number of visitors to the park who actually get to see the mountain during their stay.
After we got parked, we took the car on to the end of the road, just a couple miles farther along. There is a hiking loop right along the edge of the Savage River, so we set off, along with quite a few other people who were taking advantage of the beautiful day. There were white-crowned sparrows singing their little hearts out, one every 5th bush or so, and the river sang a descant under their songs. Tiny wildflowers were out in full force, and every blossom had a little fly taking advantage of the bounty. We saw a ptarmigan family, mama and papa and 5 chicks.
Three of them stayed close to the big birds, but two of the babies were bold explorers and got quite close to us. Farther downstream, another ptarmigan eyed us suspiciously before ducking into the willows. Mew gulls were nesting on the gravel bars in the river. It was a lovely walk.
For all the sunshine, the animal spotting wasn’t great. We saw caribou in two different places, and I caught a glimpse of what was probably a fox scooting across an open space. There were also many sightings of “snow clump sheep,” those white flecks which are surely sheep until you look at them closely with the binoculars; and “fallen log moose” and “willow clump bears.” But even if the wildlife was sparse, having that big blue sky overhead, with white mountain peaks all in bold relief more than made up for it. We drove around later in the afternoon, and the mountain (The Mountain!) was still partially visible, but beginning to be obscured by clouds, and now at 7 pm it’s completely hidden from view again.