Today was just breathtaking…I could just leave it at that, however you want to hear all about it right?… in magical Denali National Park.
We caught the hotel shuttle into the little town of Denali. On the way we seen two moose. Our Hawaiian bus driver was just as excited as we so he turned the bus around and parked to let us all take a photo and hang out the window for a good view.
We spent the whole day in various stages of freezing. From about 0′ to 15′ although I dont believe for a second it was ever above 10′. It was bloody cold. It is raining and the air just icy.
Our tour into Denali, a 6 million acre National Park, left town at 2pm. The bus was full of mostly oldish Americans from cruise ships. We were the only young family on the bus. We got to witness some classic obnoxious American behaviour today. Two guys wanting to have a punch up over having the window open (including one rolling up his sleeves) and one guy demanding his wife have the best seat on the bus. It is moose mating season so I guess they feel the extra testosterone in the air? Sarah our guide says you should be more scared of a moose at the moment than a grizzly bear.
We travelled 100 km deep into the park. It was an African animal safari Alaskan style. I cant even tell you in words how breathtaking the views were. I was hanging out the window saying ‘wow… wow… can it get any more beautiful it is ridiculous’. Its all about the views and animal spotting. Sarah informs us she will stop the bus as fast as she can when we yell STOP, so wear your seatbelt. In our tour snack box we have reindeer sausage in our sandwich.
It is also a wildlife spotting tour equip with a high powered zoom video and screens to allow you to watch the animals up close as well as out of the window. We seen mountain sheep, moose, caribou, mountain squirrels, some birds and yes two grizzly bears. It was heart stopping stuff.
The caribou were in a few small herds then one big one. We seen a few with massive fully grown antlers thrashing them about on the bushes to remove the velvet lining that is shredding. This is in preparation for the antlers dying and falling off. Caribou antlers are the fasted growing thing known to man. See the large set on Gracies head are grown and fall of each year. Plus the grow larger and more interesting in design each year. They are a sign of maturity and stature in the mating game.
The two Grizzly bears were on a mission, moving fast eating berries. Sarah said they know winter is coming and they must eat as much as they can ready for hibernation. She said they are eating up to 20 hours a day. You can see they have a sense of urgency moving fast and eating as fast as they can. It was a mother and her grown male cub. One was the brown grizzly colour and her son nearly black. The moved across the mountain face from berry patch to patch. You could see the massive claws on the big mumma bear.
It is a magical time in the park as the colours have all changed into autumn. Plus as we climbed in altitude it was snowing on the mountain tops. We got to get out and have a little play. By this time we were pretty frozen anyway. The mountain was covered in mossy ground covers, wet, spongy, in various shades of autumn, some blue berries and freshly fallen soft snow. It was magic land.
The mountain peak in Denali is called Mt McKinley over 6km tall. That is so high I cant get my head around it. 1200 mountaineers climb it each year. It takes about a month to climb as they have to do it slowly to allow their bodies to acclimate.
Our tour got back an hour after dark at 10pm. OMgolly we were cold and exhausted. Our feet were frozen and our eyes wobbly from all the looking. We had a beer, pizza, hot shower and hit the sack. Night night Alaska, you are amazing…