Wednesday, September 28, 2005

September Denali Trip, Part 5

More Denali Pictures are here for your midweek enjoyment!

Once we reached Kantishna, which is literally the end of the road, we finally ate our lunch in front of the landing strip. The sandwiches from the little gas station in town were suprisingly good (and still cold) by the time we got around to eating them, which was nice! At the end of the road there, it was pretty quiet at this point in the year, but there are many lodges there that you can stay at if you'd like. Certainly it is a beautiful place that you could certainly use as a base camp for hiking/etc for a week or two.

On our way back, we got to see how the light changes everything we'd already seen, and we had a chance to take more photos. Here is a tree at the reflection pond:

In particular, I wanted to get some shots of the beautiful ponds that we had passed on our way to Wonder Lake:

Here's an interesting one of a "Double Tree" also near Wonder Lake:

Here's one that worked well, with the mountains in the background and the yellow bushes in the foreground:

In this one, I fiddled with the K factor on my SLR, which makes everything a bit red:

Here's another good use of the K factor to get some interesting colors:

But that's enough for today...tomorrow (hopefully) I'll explain that bear paw print and we'll see some moose!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bear with me...

I got all the pictures in blogger today, so I should be back in business tomorrow on Denali pictures. In the meantime, thought this picture would be appropriate...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Being bent out of shape...

I am still going through the second memory card of pictures from Denali and having a busy day, so hopefully there will be more pictures soon...

So a quick note for today...

People keep asking me if it's snowing yet in ANC. It's not snowing, but I did see for the first time visible snow in the mountains around Anchorage this weekend -- I don't know if there was enough to call it termination dust really or not, but I get the feeling (confirmed by accuweather) that the snow is not so far off. I am deep in winter planning mode -- harvesting the last vegetables and herbs, picking up water hoses, and the like. I wish the snow would come soon so that we don't have to mow our lawn anymore :). Time to wax those skis!

Also, do you know that hockey season is coming up as well? I hear that even the pros are thinking about playing this year. I look forward to following another year of mythical sea creature hockey, and tickets are on sale today!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

September Denali Trip, Part 4

Are you sick of pictures from Denali yet? I hope not, because here are some more:

Whoa, that's different! That's Denali, the mountain in the distance. It looks much bigger than I thought!

In fact, it was so big, we all had to get out of our cars to take a picture with it:

Not everyone gets to see Denali this clear when they get to the park...and certainly during the day the mountain's weather constantly changed.

I also liked this particular bowl:

So we drove closer to the mountain...

Along the way, there was more beautiful scenery:

And there was a turn-off for Wonder Lake. Wonder Lake is a campground with a spectacular view of the Alaska range and also a beautiful lake (for those of you who have been to Glacier NP, it's a bit like Lake Macdonald). However, with a lake, of course, comes all sorts of bugs! We were going to eat our lunch here, but bailed once the bugs started to attack us. I got a few quick pictures, than ran to the car:

Although Wonder Lake was really pretty, the better place to take pictures was up the road at Reflection Pond. It's just a tiny turnoff on the road, and I'm glad we stopped there! I hopped out of the car, and started wandering around in the swamp to get these shots. Gee, I wonder why it's called Reflection Pond...

This is my favorite:

And another tree shot:

More tomorrow!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

September Denali Trip, Part 3

So by the time we got halfway to Kantishna, we were giddy. It was just an incredibly beautiful trip!

In our giddiness, I suggested that Frank go out on this little hill that appeared to have a trail, so that we could get a picture. He had to scree down the hill we were on to get there, but he found a way:

Here's Frank on the hill:

And to give some perspective:

What a guy!

Then we continued along towards the big mountains and the end of the road:

Then, we saw yet another group of cars parked by the side of the road...and this time, for a bear! The bear was frolicking out in the tundra, a wee bit out of sight for my camera:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

September Denali Trip, Part 2

So we just passed the sheep at the pass. Once we passed the sheep, the scenery once again changed to browns and reds:

Then, at another stream, we found another group of cars pulled up at the side of the road. This one was for a bear and three cubs way down on the stream...see if you can see them:

I couldn't see them at all -- but the lady with the binoculars promised me they were there!

Waiting for bears, Frank and Galileo take time for a picture:

We also got a few hints of the big mountains to come.

Keep in mind, we hadn't even seen the big mountains yet!

That's it for today, tomorrow, watch for Frank to climb a mountain!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

September Denali Trip, Part 1

Because of some incredible generosity at work, Frank and I found ourselves driving the 240 miles to Denali N.P. on Thursday in order to participate in the road lottery. For those of you who don't know, by winning the road lottery, you can drive your own car all the way down the park road -- stopping wherever you want, whenever you want.

If you are ever going to Denali, I can vouch for the fact that fall is beautiful, as you can see from the photos below. Not to take anything away from either place, but Denali's fall colors are like a saturated Hatcher Pass -- the greens are almost too green, the reds are almost magenta, and the birches of course are a bright yellow color. When you add this mix to the beautiful blue/white/grey colors of the big mountains, you have a combination that just cannot be beat anywhere in the world.

So it was a bit of a blessing, really, that we drove a lot of the way to Denali under cover of darkness -- that way, we were not distracted by the colors on each side of the road! I, as the self-appointed safety engineer had more time to worry about gas and catastrophe (Were there enough gas stations between here and Denali? Yes.), and Galileo had more time to pant and look unhappy to be stuck in the car for so long. Frank's eagle eyes quickly caught two huge female moose that crossed the road, but that was the only real excitement of the trip up there.

We stayed at the Grande Denali Lodge, which is the infamous lodge that overlooks the valley. The rooms were quite nice, although you definitely were paying for the view, which was spectacular. As we found out through our days there, since this was the last weekend most businesses stayed open, many things were closed and the restaurants were running out of things. However, both restaurants we tried (and even the gas station's sandwiches!) were quite good, even with a limited menu.

The next day, we got up around 5:45am to get our road permit and get on the road. I do believe we were the first ones there as usual! After getting the permit, we got some quick sandwiches at the gas station in town, then started on the road...

This is the first shot I took, probably only about 2 miles into the trip. As you can see, the colors were spectacular!

As if that weren't enough, some of the valley was covered in beautiful yellow plants...

Then there were some unbelievably beautiful mountains that were unreal:

Mind you, this is all the scenery that you can see still on the road. This rock formation was at the stop where only those with road permits could conintue...

At the checkpoint, we were once again reminded of all the rules about the road by a very friendly park ranger. Then, of course, more road...

One of the most interesting things to me about Denali was the continuous change in landscape and vegetation. Soon we were in fields of gold...

..and then back into a valley with different colors than the others.

Soon we stopped at the Telanika River rest stop, which was full of tourists in big buses:

...but we were able to slip right by the tour buses and get back on the road quickly!

Soon the landscape changed again, and we were in a place that somehow reminded me of New Mexico:

Then, we turned a corner and saw a slew of cars stopped by the side of the road. We stopped too, and looked out to see dall sheep impossibly close!

More Tomorrow!