Thursday, August 12, 2010

One of the Lucky 30%

Sunday afternoon (August 8th) I met up with Sue and Fred as planned. The next morning, despite gloomy, overcast weather we drove the 15 miles of the Denali National Park Highway that is open to vehicular traffic, out to Savage River. To our delight and amazement, a few miles into the park the cloud cover broke up and the sun came out as did the blue skies!

It is said that only about 30% of the people who visit the park actually get to see “The Mountain” (also known as Mount McKinley or Denali). I'm happy to say that Sue, Fred, and I are amongst the lucky few!

This was taken at the nine-mile marker, which is the first place within the park where “The Mountain” becomes visible. That white blob in the middle of the picture (behind the blue-gray mountain peaks) is Denali, about 70 miles away.

Maybe this one is a little better? A couple of miles down the road (and with the aid of the zoom lens).

A little two-mile trail at Savage River was a very pleasant walk and even though there were other people around you sensed the remoteness.

This fellow, a Hoary Marmot, was right alongside the trail. When it caught sight of us it scurried up the hill. Its coloration allowed it to blend amazingly well into the hillside along with the rocks. (This is an enlargement from the zoomed-in image. We were about 100 feet away from it.)

The Savage River Trail (photo taken on the way back, looking to the west). The hardest part of this hike was enduring the cold, stiff wind that was blowing!

Looking toward the east, where we had been.

The Savage River, looking west, from the middle of the highway bridge.

There is also a short but very steep trail at Savage River that leads up to a large rock outcropping, which also happens to provide a great view of Denali. (The Mountain is hidden from view at the river level by the nearer hills.)

Looking east down the Savage River Valley.

Denali from the top of the short trail.

Sue and Fred on the trail back down to the river.

Our second “wildlife” sighting of the day was shortly after leaving the trail parking lot. These three Caribou were in the middle of the Savage River, quite a ways away. (This is a small portion of a zoomed-in image.)

All-in-all, it was a good day at Denali – we saw The Mountain and Wildlife too!

Be sure to check Sue's blog for additional photos!

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