Date: September 10, 2013
Tonight’s Location: Denali National Park
Mileage: End - 22714
Start - 22681
Total Miles for the day: 33
Weather: partly sunny
Temperature: start 48º
Wildlife count: Grizzly Bear(8), Lynx, Moose(6), Dall Sheep(8), Porcupine(2), Arctic Ground Squirrel
Year List: 270
Birds: Golden Eagle, Willow Ptarmigan, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Northern Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Peregrine Falcon, American Kestrel, Gray Jay
Today was an absolutely stunning day! We were on the first park bus into the park at 7:30 am. There were clouds in the sky, but the sunshine was plentiful – perfect for incredible lighting on the tundra and surrounding mountains. We saw at least 3 rainbows during the day. Although we were not first in line, about 10 back, the front seat immediately behind the driver was open – we had loads of room and foot rests for our feet – it was incredible. We had views, not only out the side windows, but also straight through the front windshield. There was a Roads Scholar group on the bus, with whom we shared lots of conversation. After some moose at the beginning of the ride, we watched a Lynx walk down the road right next to a bus and part of the road construction crew for probably 5 minutes – unheard of! Lynx are very solitary and illusive animals – one is lucky to see one or two in an entire season way back up in the brush, much less to have one walk down the road for such a long time. We were all amazed.
Grizzlies were plentiful, though we didn’t see any real close, we saw our fill, and they were all turning silver for the winter. Porky sightings are also rare, and we saw 2. The only large mammals we didn’t see were caribou and wolves.
What was stunning was the way the sun shone through the clouds, through the rain, through the snow showers. It was easy to spot the rainbows and to see the snow level in the mountains moving down. With the cloud layer, we only saw the bottom half of Denali, but we have seen her in all of her glory many times – we just felt bad for the folks who have never seen her before.
The MOST spectacular was the fall color. All throughout, even the tundra, and especially the tundra, the barberry was brilliant ruby red, merging into burgundy and then into cherry. Interspersed were stunning yellow aspen, poplar, and willow. It appeared that the colors were at their peak today, and the lighting made all of their glory shine! Tired, we arrived back at the Wilderness Access Center at 4 pm.
A hot shower and dinner of grilled chicken with pasta/veggie/alfredo hit the spot. After dinner, we drove up to Healy to fuel the truck, and then we crashed for the evening.