Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An Overnight Trip into Denali National Park

Our friend Monica Magari, whom we have worked with at McMurdo for the past two years is a Ranger at Denali National Park.  She invited us to come spend the night with her in the park at Toklat.  This enabled us to get a permit to drive in to the park, so Monday morning Randy drove us and Wendy out to Toklat.  Since most visitors have to visit the park on a bus, this was a real treat to be able to drive out with Randy's car.

This is the check point at the Savage River, which is about 15 miles in to the park.  It's the furthest point that people can take their private vehicles without a permit.  For us it was the point where we picked up our permit to drive to Toklat.

This rock formation near the Savage River is called Savage Rock.

Here are some photos as we drive further in to the park.

We pulled over here at the Igloo Creek Campground to take a few photos.

We spotted this Dall Sheep up on Igloo's the white spot in the middle of the photo.

Looking south down Igloo Creek.

Dave, Wendy, Randy and Kelly on the Igloo Creek Bridge.

Cathedral Mountain

Driving up through Sable Pass.

The top of Sable Pass.

We saw this sow with two Cubs napping in the afternoon sun.  Kelly's first Grizzly Bears.

Looking at the upcoming road at Polychrome Pass.

Here's the road at Polychrome Pass.  With the narrow road and a steep drop to the valley below, it can be a scary ride for people on the buses or those driving their own vehicle.  Randy handled it like a Pro. 

Another view of the windy road at Polychrome.

When we got to Toklat we found Monica and she got us set up in our rooms for the night.

We ditched the car and walked down to the Toklat rest stop to catch a bus for another 10 mile ride out to the new Eielson Visitor's Center.

Here's the view across the Toklat River.

Here's a video Kelly took of the area while we were waiting for our bus.

A Caribou in Thorofare Pass

Dave took this video to show the view from the Eielson Visitor's Center.  If Denali had been visible this day it would have been to the far right where the video stops.

This quilt at the Eielson Visitor's Center, was made by Ree Nancarrow, a local Denali artist.  You can see how big it is compared to the electrical outlet in the bottom right corner of the photo.

Here's the placard that accompanies the quilt.

Wendy outside the Eielson Visitor's Center.

Wendy is the Re-vegetation Technician for the Park Service at Denali and was involved with creating this living roof at the visitors center which is shown here. 

The buses lined up at the Eielson Visitor's Center.

Our bus ride back to Toklat.

That evening Wendy made us Indian food for dinner.

After dinner we did a little drive in to the park and found some caribou.

We stopped at the Stony Overlook to take in the views.

Here are some photos of the Highway Pass area on our way back to Toklat.

Divide Mountain.  It separates the two branches of the Toklat River.

Tuesday morning we took another bus out to Eielson to see if we might be able to see "The Mountain".  Although the south peak never become completely visible we had a great view of Denali none the less as it rises 20,320' above sea level.

View of Denali from Stony Overlook.

On the drive out to Eielson we saw this Ptarmigan along side the road.

This Fox ran beside our bus just as we got to Eielson.

Denali from the Eielson Visitor's Center.

This trail was closed since there was also a bear in the area.

A Grizzly Bear was just down over the ridge from the Visitor's Center.

Here's a little video clip Dave took of the bear.

Here we are with Denali in the background.

 Yet another shot of Denali.  When you see it, you just can't stop taking pictures.

Yet another caribou on the way back to Toklat.  Once we got back to Toklat we got back in Randy's car and headed out of the park.

Here's a shot of the Polychrome area.

Driving back over Polychrome Pass.

Fireweed in Sable Pass.

Fireweed along the road.

The view towards Cathedral from Sable Pass.

Dall Sheep Rams on Cathedral Mountain.

In this shot you can see the curl of their horns if you enlarge the photo.

Fireweed near Igloo Creek. 

Arctic Aster

We stopped at Igloo Creek to have some lunch.

Wendy at Igloo.

Igloo Mountain.

Igloo Creek

View of Mount Deborah rising 12,339' above the surrounding landscape.

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