Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Alaska's Denali National Park - Part 2 ...

This was a good time to check out our box of snacks. We may want to start munching as the afternoon wears on. I think there were about five or six packages of different types and flavors of crackers. One may have been a package of crunchy cookies.  It was nice to have a variety from which to choose so we could snack between photo opportunities. It definitely helped to tide us over until later.

There are also other animals in the park. The snowshoe hares are one of them, and their main predator is the lynx. The lynx is Alaska’s only native cat. We did not see either in the park, but this photo of a lynx was hanging on the wall near our room at Grizzly Bear Lodge in Fairbanks.

The lynx is Alaska's only native cat.
Because the bus system reduces traffic as well as disturbances along the roadside, you can better see what you come to see. Jason, our bus driver and tour guide, told us if we see an animal, we need to be quiet when he says and keep our arms and hands inside the windows of the bus.

A single animal, breathtakingly close, is priceless. 

The animals are used to the buses on the road and pay no attention to them nor do they pay any attention to softly clicking cameras inside the bus.

We saw a Grizzly Bear!  Oh what a joy!

The grizzly bears love to eat berries they find in the wild. In a single day, they can eat 200,000 berries.   

The Grizzly Bear in the Wild in a series of progressive photos that I took  – 

A grizzly bear walking along the side of our road!

The grizzly bear paid no attention to us as our bus got closer for us to get a photo.
 This was taken through the window of the bus looking over the side of the road.

The grizzly bear still paid no attention to us.

Even with the closeness of the green bus, he continued to ignore
us as he walked along the roadside.

Is that bear claws I see in this photo?

He was drenched from the rain, and appeared to be eating,
but had no interest in us or our bus.

Seeing and photographing a grizzly bear in the wild in Denali
makes this one of my prized photos!
We continued to mile 64, turned around and headed back to the Denali Visitor Center Complex. By this time the grizzly bear was walking along side of the road and again paid no attention to us. 

The grizzly bear continued his walk along the side of the road,
still paying no attention to us or our bus.
Our tour guide told us a portion of the road in Denali National Park is on the list of most dangerous roads in the world. I do not know if we traveled any part of it, or if there is a more dangerous section further into the park. 

On our return, we still had to negotiate all of the narrow roads, curves, etc., but this time we were on the outside of the curve.

As we returned to the Visitor Center Complex, we were on
the outside of the curves on the narrow part of the road.

Even though not many young moose survive their first year, Moose continue to come to Denali to give birth to their young in a large area in full view of their predators. Moose have been spotted with twins.

The bull moose in the next three photos was spotted as we got nearer to the end of our tour.

Bull moose is barely visible in the heavy bushes.

The bull moose is well camouflaged off to our right.

Bull moose is moving through the bushes that provide camouflage.
What an exciting day it was! It was after 8 PM by the time we got to our motel for the night. Our tour guide picked up the keys to our room and distributed them as we got off the bus. We were staying in two buildings of multi-cabin units. The atmosphere reminded me of a cedar cabin with a rear patio door that opened on to a deck with a view of pine trees and rippling water. 

View for the night off our back deck
There was a restaurant across the highway, but it was more of a walk than we wanted to tackle. Instead, we opted for our bag of goodies from the one-stop shopping at Fred Meyer. As it turned out, we shared our grub, which turned out to be quite a feast of bite-sized broccoli pieces, celery sticks, oranges, and nutritious energy bars in a variety of flavors. The next morning we had our bags out by 5:30 AM. At 5:45 AM our bus picked up anyone, including us, who wanted to have breakfast at the restaurant across the highway. We opted for their breakfast bar, which was very good, and allowed us plenty of time until departure time. 

My Photos From Denali taken in the rain...

My photos from Denali are not as good as I had hoped they would be, but I did the best I could, and that has to be good enough. It was my choice to take photos in the rain and be happy with them instead of foregoing any photos during the short, precious moments we had to spend in Denali. I could go on and on, but let me just say that experiencing Denali, even in the rain, is something that many people do not have the opportunity to do in a lifetime.  

What I have Learned about Denali

The story of Denali cannot fully be told here, nor can I begin to do it justice. However, I would like to share some things that I have learned which may give further insight into this National Park and Preserve.

First of all, did you know there are only eight different types of trees in Denali? They include white spruce, black spruce, quaking aspen, balsam poplar, paper birch, Alaska birch, larch (or tamarack) and black cottonwood. It can take 100 years for a black spruce to reach six feet tall. Even for trees, this can be a challenging place to survive. They may get as much as 70 inches of snow, but precipitation-wise, it amounts to less than 12 inches total for the year.

There was no question that this crown jewel was the tallest peak in North America. As early as 1794, it had been referred to as the “stupendous snow mountains”. In 1834, Andrei Glazunov called the peak “Tenada”, which is Athabaskan, meaning “the great mountain”. This name actually appears on a map of the area from 1839. And there were other names, translating to “Big One” or similar.

A Yale man, Charles Sheldon, who preferred to be in the wilderness, decided to dedicate himself to the conservation cause of President Theodore Roosevelt. In January, 1908, after journeying to Alaska, he stood on a rise, looked through his field glasses and saw the America that used to be. Could this vision be a national park, the Yellowstone of Alaska? What he saw was like an ocean of land. It appeared storm-tossed by mountains and glaciers. Yet with waves of rolling tundra, it was vast, intact, winter-white, holding its breath, a landscape like no other. He knew it was inevitable that hunters would come aiming to kill the magnificent wild game that graced the land. After spending ten months in the region, he headed east to make his dream come true.

President Woodrow Wilson signed Mount McKinley National Park into law in February 1917. This was a park to protect wild animals by protecting the place where they lived. The story does not end here.

From 1939-1941, a wildlife biologist who had studied coyotes in Yellowstone came to Mount McKinley National Park. Adolph Murie, with his family, lived in the heart of the park. With the aid of his field glasses, he could watch wolf pups play by their den and he also studied Dall sheep and caribou. Nature was becoming a community that people belonged to, and Murie and others wanted to protect the integrity of its ecology. The park was big, but it wasn’t big enough.

It took 40 years for Mount McKinley National Park to enlarge from two million acres to six million acres  and become Denali National Park and Preserve. In December, 1980, Jimmy Carter, with only weeks left in his presidency, signed into law legislation that established over 100 million acres of new national parks, preserves, and wildlife refuges in Alaska.

Controversy over the name started before the park was established. Alaskans wanted it to be Mt. Denali National Park to preserve the old Indian name, meaning ‘the Great One’.  When “Mount McKinley” was officially decided as the name of the peak and the national park, that did not stop the name debate.  

The name “Densmore Mountain” or “Densmore Peak” was used by prospectors along the Yukon River, after a gold prospector named Frank Densmore had talked about this tremendous mountain a couple of decades after the US purchased Alaska from Russia when he explored Interior Alaska.  “Mount McKinley” surfaced after a gold prospector named William Dickey used the name in an article in the New York Sun in 1897. Dickey was an admirer of President-elect McKinley, but the new president had no connection to Alaska. After president McKinley’s assassination in 1901, the name Mount McKinley became popular.

The State of Alaska petitioned the U.S. Board of Geographic Names (USBGN) in 1975 to change the name to Denali; their efforts were blocked for the next four decades by an Ohio congressional delegation (who represented former President McKinley’s home state). Alaskan politicians continued to lead name-change efforts that continued to be prevented by Congress. A 1947 law that empowers the Secretary of the Interior to use authority when the USBGN does not act within a reasonable time was cited by Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell; In 2015, President Barack Obama and Sally Jewell took action to restore the name “Denali” to the mountain.

Interesting Tidbits about the National Park Service as it relates to Denali…

In 1872, Ulysses S. Grant created the first national park, Yellowstone.
In 1916, the National Park Service was established to take charge of historical and natural sites including national parks and monuments.
In 1917 Mount McKinley National Park was the first national park founded following the creation of this new agency.
In December, 1980, Mount McKinley National Park became Denali National Park and Preserve and was enlarged from two million acres to six million, but the name of the mountain did not change.
In 2016, the name of the highest peak in North America changed from “Mount McKinley” to “Denali” on the eve of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary. 
Next year, 2017, a hundred years after becoming a national park, Denali National Park and Preserve will celebrate it 100th anniversary.

Denali Adventures

Our day in Denali was definitely an adventure that we will relive over and over. The Tundra Wilderness Narrated Tour was a great choice! In addition to tour buses, however, there are many other ways to enjoy Denali. One-of-a-kind adventures are whitewater adventures, trail rides, flightseeing from fixed wing airplanes and helicopters,and ziplines, Of course, it goes without saying that there is camping, fishing, etc. and seasonal activities like hiking and picking berries. 

Thank you everyone for visiting and following my adventure. Feel free to make comments. In the next post, we will travel more beautiful country along the Parks Highway and make a stop in Anchorage, visit a wildlife conservation center for animals, and we might even get on board the cruise ship in Seward. If you would like to be notified when a new post is published, put your email address in the box at the top right of this blog and be sure to go to your email to confirm your subscription. We respect your privacy and do nothing with your information. 

We also appreciate your clicking on any of our links. Any purchase you make when you use our links may generate a small percentage of income from that vendor, but it will not increase any cost to you. This is true no matter how many pages you visit or which item(s) you purchase on a site after initially entering the site from my blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome conversational comments that are on topic and useful. Links to personal blogs are fine, but we will not approve comments made for the sole purpose of linking to a commercial business, and/or which have no direct relevancy to the topic of the post. Thank you.