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Hiking the Alpine Tundra in Denali NP – Wildflowers!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

overcast 0 °F

We were hoping for blue skies and an early bus trip out to see Mt. McKinley, but it had started raining last evening and continued to rain off and on til 3am at which time I got up and re-set my alarm for 7am. Cloudy skies again this morning, so we have a big breakfast and try to figure out what we want to do today. We ride bikes for about an hour and then try to get a bus to the Eielson Visitor Center to hike the trail north of the construction. We are not successful in getting a bus that goes that far and instead take a bus to Fish Creek. The bus driver again today is wonderful with her information about the park and wildlife, plus this one is also a comedian (“I appreciate everyone being helpful in finding the wildlife, but it’s not really helpful to others in finding a bear by saying ‘the bear is right there’ ”). After seeing lots more Dall sheep
and several grizzlies,
caribou and moose, we get off the bus at Fish Creek to do some hiking through the alpine tundra in the area. This is the height of the tundra wildflower season and there are flowers everywhere!



We walk around the area for about 2 hours with sunshine about half the time (yea!) and enjoy the area.


I really, really enjoy the wildflowers – so many different kinds and they are everywhere! Joe is not as thrilled about the wildflowers as I am and decides he's going to hike to the summit of the stone covered moutain. Jere and I say 'go ahead' and we wait at the bottom of the stones. Joe makes it to the top, but getting down on the loose stones presents a bit of a challenge, but he makes it without injury and loves the hike. Joe is the tiny dot on top of the hill in the picture below:


Unfortunately, no sighting of Mt. McKinley today. We wave down a bus to take us back to the campground. Soon after hopping on the bus it begins to hail! It eventually turns to rain, but some of the hills that were brown on the top earlier today are now covered with a coating of white. What weather! Hopefully Mt. McKinley will come out tomorrow, but the weather forecast is again partly cloudy with showers. We’re in a rut here with weather – partly cloudy, occasional showers, high in the 60s.

The road that we take to drive through Denali is a one lane dirt road that hugs the side of the mountain at several places. I look over the edge and it is pretty much straight down, several hundred feet. I try to take a picture, but not sure it will show how steep and how far down it is. In the photo below, the braided river bed going across the picture is wider than the width of a football field. The drop is big:

I'm not bothered by heights, but when we pass another bus on one of the turns where there is an 800 feet drop-off at the edge of the road, I close my eyes :-)

Posted by jengelman 13:03 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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