Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The High One. . .aka Mt. McKinley. . . aka Denali
We left Fairbanks this morning but not before paying a visit to the Large Animal Research Center at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. I had read that they had a herd of reindeer and also some musk ox. The musk ox is an arctic dweller, so the only hope of seeing any would require a trip up past the Arctic Circle. . . and then it would be iffy. So when I read that there was a group of them nearby, I checked it out. They give tours and we decided to go before we left town.
We weren't disappointed. It was a nice talk about what they do at the research farm and a lot about the animals. The musk ox are shy animals. . . obviously in their native habitat, they don't see people or green grass. It was hard to coax them from their shade. And even though the narrator was waving branches of fresh leaves at them and putting grain in the trough, they wouldn't have anything to do with it. . . that is, until we moved over to the reindeer pen and ignored them. LOL It was hot for them today. They are really beautiful animals. They were once hunted to extinction in Alaska and a group of 30+ were brought over from Greenland. They managed to survive the trip and the animals here today are descendents of those animals. In addition to the musk ox, we saw a reindeer family. The dad with his big horns and the mother and calf born in April. They were friendlier and got right up next to the fence.
Once we finished our tour, we started out for Denali. There is a parks highway which takes you down to Denali, but it is about 100 miles. So it was a long trip really. One area of the road was being totally rebuilt. Looks like they may have had a section collapse or washout. At one point we sited Mt. McKinley. It was pretty awesome even from that far away.
We managed to see a couple moose on the highway, but one went into hiding in the trees and the other was not in good view to take pictures.
Once we arrived at our campground, we got parked and hooked up. We looked around the camp a little and decided we needed to drive far enough into the park to see Mt. McKinley. The mountain is shrouded in clouds 70% of the time and today was clear, so we thought it might be our only time to see it clearly. It is supposed to be clear tomorrow as well, but some wildfires have started burning. . . none in Denali, but one never knows. So we got into our motorhome and we all went to the park. On the Park Road we saw a moose feeding on leaves near the road. She was actually down an embankment and some of my pictures looked very close, but I was using the zoom. Much of the time I was behind the motorhome taking the pictures. We drove on to where we had good views of the mountain. It was clear, but we were disappointed in the view itself as it looks small from the vantage point we had. But tomorrow we have bus reservations for in the park. Our trip goes 66 miles into the park and promises great views of the mountain and since it is supposed to be clear, that should be spectacular.
On our way out, we stopped off and got our bus tickets for tomorrow. We had made reservations earlier. While we were walking out, there was a moose in the parking lot. That was a bit of commotion. It was eating leaves off the trees in the wooded area around which the drive circles. Cars coming around were wanting to stop and gawk, but the park attendant made them move on. She said the moose can be very dangerous. They don't look it, but looks can be deceiving.
There are some neat little shops here in front of the RV park. We walked through some of them tonight. I may go back and pick up a few things.
Till next time. . .