Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Alaska Interior: Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks
As we headed north out of the Kenai Peninsula, we traveled along the Turnagain Arm waterway. On the cliffs along the highway, Dall Sheep often come near to reach mineral licks on the rocks. This ram surveyed the photographers below that had gathered to take his picture.
Since we had passed along Potter Marsh three weeks earlier, the Mew gulls had hatched and parents guarded their young along the parking lot.
Western Blue Flag was in full bloom along the marsh.
After a stock-up stop in Anchorage and lunch out , we were on our way north toward Denali National Park.
We took a detour up Hatcher Pass between Palmer and Wasilla looking for alpine birds. The treat was finding this Pica calling high on the lichen-covered rocks. We also found his much larger cousin, the Hoary Marmot.
As we headed up Parks Road, we stopped to photograph this large bull moose as he checked us out.
About 80 miles south of Denali, we got out first and last glimpse of Mt. McKinley. This majestic mountain rises 20,320 feet, dwarfing the surrounding mountains of the Alaska Range.
This cow moose and calf greeted us near the National Park. She plunged into the pond heading directly for us and the road. We held up traffic as they crossed in front of us between several motorhomes, a semi-trailer and 2 tour buses.
We got our campsite for the next 3 nights and our bus ticket for the 90 mile trip to Wonder Lake. Early next morning, we were first in line to board the old "school bus" for the bumpy alpine adventure.
Visitors come to Denali to see the "big game" and we were not disappointed. Our wildlife tally for the day included 56 Caribou; (this herd running across the snow field and a large collared bull), 2 blond Grizzly Bears, 5 Moose and 11 Dall Sheep.
As the bus snaked its way along precarious cliffs, each curve in the road revealed panoramic views of vast plateaus, river valleys and mountains such as this colorful Polychrome Range.
Additional wildlife enjoyed were families of Greater White-fronted Geese and Willow Ptarmigan.
The ground is blanketed with unique beauty and food for the caribou as in this Flaky Freckle Pelt lichen and a multitude of other tundra flora.
As we headed toward Fairbanks, we took a side trip up Stampede Road. On this primitive gravel track - guess what we found. Eight more moose! This mom and calf came stampeding down the middle of the road toward us, we gave way as they sped past the RV a scant hair-breath away.
On the way to North Pole (the town, not the real pole, but Santa Claus's house and reindeer were there) we spotted this nesting Red-necked Grebe near the road.
Between the many rainy days we did have a sunny weekend and took advantage at Chena Lakes Recreation Park where this Red-throated Loon dove for fish near the shore.
This pure stand of European White Birch made a strong visual impact on us as we left the Fairbanks area. We ended our stay here joining the North Pole Worship Center for a wonderful family celebration of praise and inspiration.
Looking for more alpine adventures as we complete our circle on the roads of Alaska.
Love & Prayers, Ty & Ida Baumann