Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Alaska Day 20 (Denali)

 We wanted to take another trip to Denali National Park, after we had left the first time we found out we could have driven 30 miles in on the road that goes through the park instead of the 15 we originally thought.  They only  have it open for 1 month of the year for you to be able to drive your vehicle past the 15 mile mark.  The rest of the time (winter) it is closed beyond that point to vehicles, or in summer you can park and take the Park's tour bus to the end of the 80 mile road that runs through
the park, the bus doesn't start running until mid May so we wanted to drive as far as we could ourselves.  I couldn't believe how much snow had melted in the time between visits.  Though the higher you got there was still plenty of snow.  We made a small detour on the way to Denali to the small town of Talkeetna.  There are a lot of historic buildings and a quaint little main street.  We stopped for a break and I was kissed by a Moose to be able to log a cache.

This was another stop in the way, Hurricane Gulch.   There was a cache here, but with the terrain level and the posts about the difficulty getting to it, I decided it was a cache to leave unfound, or someone would be needing to find me at the bottom of the gulch.
 The guys we more excited about a pair of these that flew overhead while we were looking at the gulch.

Ryan wanted a photo of him next to the snow bank at the edge of the parking lot.  This was the level of the snow, not what had been pushed back by a snow plow.  Ryan is 6 ft tall.

Once we got to the park, we stopped again at the 15 mile mark, Savage River.  I took a walk along the river bank and heard this bird chattering at me, looked it up later and it is the Alaska State Bird, the Willow Ptarmigan. 

This must be why he was "talking", his mate was nearby, she was much harder to see.
 Last time we were here, this path was under snow.  Now there were only patches.  I hiked quite a ways out, and just enjoyed the peace and quiet, the only sounds were the river splashing down, and a few birds.

This was the view of the river back towards the parking lot.
 The kids again did their imitation of Mountain Goats. 
 This shows a little better just how high they were.  Later when I walked back I noticed a pathway leading up the rock and went about 3/4 of the way myself before we needed to head out again.
 If you looked closely enough you can see small things starting to grow again, that sunshine sure helps.

As we continued our drive up we saw a few moose, looking for a meal.
 We stopped to see the views, and for the kids to see if they could slide down the hills above where I'm standing to take this photo.

They made it up, now to make it down.

And Kamryn came tumbling down.

 This is Rock Creek, there was a Earth Cache here that required you to do a lot of thinking, figuring and classifying of the river to be able to claim the find.  It was posted in Feb. and no one had claimed it yet as FTF so I took some photos, and when we go back home it took me about an hour of going thorough all the information to come up with an answer for the cache owner.  I did not hear back from her for a few days, she told me in the e-mail she is in Ecuador, and doesn't have internet access often.  She didn't have a chance to read through my answer, so I still don't know if I was correct or not, but she said I could claim it as a find.  So I have a First To Find (FTF) in Alaska!
 This was another view of the cache site, love the willow.

On our way home, we stopped to change drivers, and a Bald Eagle was sitting in the tree, I tried to get close but he flew off, which turned out to be some great photos anyway.

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