Friday, June 13, 2014

Denali, Here We Come

As we left the McKinley Lodge on Thursday afternoon, the scenery outside our bus windows became more and more dramatic.

The mountains seemed to get taller and the clouds lower.
There were so many places we would have loved to stop---the one drawback from being on a tour like this is that you don't get to stop where you'd like.  But, finally the buses pulled over for a brief photo break in one of the most amazing places I've ever seen.  Unfortunately, I got so excited that I forgot to reset my camera for being outdoors and most of the pictures are completely "blown out",  but Ron's turned out much better than mine.  In reality, NO pictures even come close to capturing what we saw. The mountains surrounded us almost 360 degrees! It was breathtaking!!!
Once we arrived at the Denali Lodge, we found our room and then had a few minutes to take pictures around the place.
This was the view from our room.
We met up with our excursion group in the lobby--what I thought was going to be a simple "nature Walk".  Instead, Emily took us up the mountain across the street and helped us don special hiking boots, etc. to keep our pants clean and provide extra traction.  (There was only one other couple, Delores and Bill, from South Carolina who were also on their honeymoon!)
We set out on our hike up the MontanaTrail, a 3 mile hike round trip.  Emily worked for Denali Backcountry Guides and was really wonderful.
It was a moderate level hike, but we took it slow, stopping often to learn about the vegetation and wildlife native to the area.
It wasn't long till we came across our first animal tracks.
As Emily pointed out the fresh moose tracks, Ron leaned in closer and noticed another set of footprints.

That's right, bear.  And they were fresh.
It appeared that there was a mother moose and a baby moose, and the bear was most likely chasing them.  The tracks were fresh and we hoped to see the animals themselves------from a distance.
We learned about wild berries that were safe to eat and tasted some pretty yummy lingonberries.
There was plenty of lichen in the dense underbrush ,
and beautiful birch bark curls.
Of course, we stopped for a few pictures.
Towards the halfway point, we came across Lynx Creek.
It was just beginning to thaw out (the last time Emily had been there a few days before, she was able to walk across the ice.

It was really cool to see the water rushing underneath the thick layer of ice/snow.
It was a great evening and I wished that I could do that sort of thing every day!!

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