Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Teklanika Campground, Denali National Park, Alaska Day 38 June 9, 2013

Our bus pass with guaranteed seating was for tomorrow (Monday), but we decided to try to see if we could go today instead. The bus we waited for was about a half hour late, but he had lots of room on it. So off we went. The driver’s name was Ned, and we stayed with him all the way to Wonder Lake and back. The bus we were on was about a 15 year old Bluebird School bus. We had to sit in the back, and the wheelchairs lift rattled and clanged the whole trip. Some of the time we couldn't even hear the driver’s narration. 

The road in some spots was so bad that we went airborne off our seats several times.  The road is only one lane and from the outside widow it looked like no shoulder and you could look straight down.  On that part of the road the bus has to stop if they meet oncoming buses, and Ned told us that they couldn't even creep past each other, the road is so narrow.

 You can get off the bus and walk part of it if you want and take a different bus if they have room. There were 3 kids from Switzerland that asked Ned to stop out in the middle of nowhere and started to walk. Oh to be young and adventurous.  But being old and adventurous isn't bad either, just at a slower pace. We didn't want to walk 20 miles.

The first animals we saw were Dahl Sheep. First there was a herd of bucks. A little way further down the narrow, dirt road, there was a small herd of females with 3 babies. One of the babies was suckling, and another baby came up to the same mother. She head butted it away, and sent it to its own mother. We saw this kind of sheep quite a few places on out trip.

 The next animals we saw were Moose. One of them had a baby by it, but we didn't get a picture of the baby. Ned said he could see a Grizzly Bear way off in the distance, but we couldn't locate it.

 We saw a Red Fox and got some good pictures of it.

We finally made it to Wonder Lake and got some more pictures. The Lake is still mostly frozen over. On the way to it we passed many, what Ned called Kettle lakes. He said they were formed by the glaciers gouging out indentations in the ground, and after the glacier receded, small lakes formed. Some are fairly good size, maybe an acre or two, while others cover less than 100 yards.

One of many kettle lakes.

After we left Wonder Lake, we saw what we think was a wolf.

 We also saw 2 more foxes, one less than 20 feet from the bus busy trying to catch something. The other one crossed in back of the bus and walk down the road next to the bus.

 We also saw more Dahl Sheep on the mountains.

Can you see the Pica?

 We stopped at a rock slide, and Ned said there was Pica in the Park, but this was the only place he has seen them. He no sooner got stopped, than we spotted two of them running around in the rocks below us. We managed to get a few picture of them.

On the way there we got some views of Mt. McKinley, first with no clouds, and later with some clouds lower than the peak. As the day went on, the clouds got more and more, until on the way back we couldn't see the top anymore. We were told that only 30% of visitors get to see the top, so we feel fortunate that we were able to see all of it at least part of the day. They said that part of the reason is that Mt. McKinley is so tall that it creates its own weather.

Clouds starting to form.

We could see the top, but the clouds are lower than the top.

The top is completely covered with clouds.

At the end of the afternoon, you couldn't even see the top of Mt. McKinley.

Another example of a braided river.

We also saw this Caribou.

One of the other buses waiting  for us to pass.

This quilt is on the wall at the Visitor Center on the way to Wonder Lake.

We spent almost 9 hours on the bus today, but we got to see lots of animals, and some great scenery. We had too many picture for today post, so will put some of them on Monday’s post.

Thanks for visiting.

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