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Denali National Park, Alaska

05 September 2010 - Cloudy Sunday

We had the programmable furnace set to come on early, to wake us up for the bus trip.  The day was overcast and drizzly ... meaning Steve was taking the trip while I stayed at camp with Tazz, our dog.

Steve took the Canon S5IS, a mid-range point & shoot camera.  It has a 12x image stabilized zoom, so I was hoping Steve would be able to get some good shots despite the bad weather and his jittery hands!  As well, it is hard to get a good shot out a bus window with other passengers juggling for the same shot!

About 8:30 a.m. the bus driver pointed out the first wildlife for the day.  A wolf trotting away along the road!  The rear of a wolf is better than no wolf at all!

Denali National Park bus tour
Wolf trotting along the Denali Park road, away from the bus

Within fifteen minutes more wildlife was spotted!  A mama grizzly with her cub!

Grizzly Bear and cub in Denali National Park, Alaska
Mama grizzly with her cub in Denali National Park

Grizzly bear and cub at Denali National Park, Alaska
Grizzly mama bear and cub

Grizzly cub at Denali National Park, Alaska
Baby grizzly smiling for the humans in the bus

Grizzly at Denali National Park, Alaska
Mama grizzly crossing the road in front of the bus - shot taken through the bus windshield

Steve is always looking for wildlife, even grouse that blend in so very well with their surroundings! 

Willow grouse (willow ptarmigan) at Denali National Park, Alaska
Willow grouse (willow ptarmigan) on the ground in Denali National Park

The first bus arrives at Wonder Lake around lunch time.  The clouds were very low on the hills, but could not darken the fall colours around the lakeshore. 

Wonder Lake at Denali National Park, Alaska
Wonder Lake in the clouds at the end of the road

There is a campground for tenters at Wonder Lake, which is at Mile 85.  The bus stops for a short while for folks to take pictures or eat their lunch. 

Wonder Lake Campground at Denali National Park, Alaska
Bus at the turnaround at Wonder Lake

Steve tried to see Mt. McKinley through the clouds.  No luck though.  Things were really thick and only the valley bottoms were visible. 

Mt McKinley not visible in cloud, Alaska
View towards Mt McKinley, but nothing is visible!

The bus heads back to Eielson Visitor Center.  The mist was settling in.  Steve decided to go for a hike and catch a later bus. 

Eielson Visitor Center in the cloud, Denali, Alaska
View south from Eielson Visitor Center at Denali National Park

Mt McKinley in the cloud, Denali, Alaska
Thorofare River viewed from Eielson Visitor Center

Steve continued his hike down the hill to the river's edge. 

River in Denali National Park, Alaska
Close up of the river bottom near Eielson Visitor Center

While at the river, Steve saw some movement in the distance.  Through the binoculars he saw two bull moose sparring with each other.  That was exciting! 

Eielson Visitor Center, Denali National Park, Alaska
Eielson Visitor Center in Denali National Park

Back on the bus, the wildlife viewing wasn't as exciting in the afternoon.  Although, a red fox popped out munching on something, maybe a ground squirrel. 

Fox in Denali National Park, Alaska
Red fox at Denali National Park

Steve arrived back at Teklanika at about 6 p.m.  That was a long day!

Tazz and I stayed inside most of the day.  She slept while I read a book.  It rained most of the day and was chilly.  We took two walks around the campground loops though, and also planned our second walk well enough to meet Steve getting off the bus.

Steve had a great day for wildlife viewing but was disappointed to not see Denali / McKinley.  Fortunately, he saw it a few days before from the Trapper Creek area.

With Steve back, I went for a stroll along the river by myself (dogs aren't supposed to be along the river bank).  It was exciting to see some blue patches showing through.

I was optimistic tomorrow would be a clearer day!

Teklanika River in Denali National Park, Alaska
Looking southward on the Teklanika River from near the campground - N63 40 09.9 W149 34 54.0

Teklanika River in Denali National Park, Alaska
Looking the other way ... north into the hills 

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