Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Nice Fall Weekend!

After a rainy last few days, the sun finally returned to Anchorage this weekend. It turned out to be a slightly crisp, but beautiful, fall weekend. We decided to get out Saturday afternoon and take advantage of the nice weather.
We walked around the park strip a little and noticed that some of the trees have already put on their fall foliage. These trees' leaves have already changed into a glorious gold.
 After dinner, we continued to walk around and just admire the mountains in the near distance. It is easy to get caught up in your everyday life and become jaded to this incredible natural beauty. However, every so often something just catches your attention and you realize how beautiful it really is here. As did these mountains around sunset Saturday evening.
 That's about our excitement for now. More bear pics soon!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bears!


Here are some more pictures Greg took on his first day at McNeil River.

 As you can tell, he got quite a few of bears protecting their fishing spot in the river.
Some bears had prime salmon spots and just waited to fish.
 The bears walked within 5-10 feet of him regularly throughout the day.
 Sometimes, the bears got into heated arguments that lasted several minutes.
 At one time there were 29 bears in the river!

 This fellow saw the skirmish and decided to wander on upstream! Probably a wise choice!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

McNeil River Day 1

Greg arrived via float plane to McNeil River Camp around 6:30 p.m. on July 16th. It was pretty much as he expected with a cook shack, a few cabins for staff, a couple of outhouses, and not much else but fireweed, alder trees, and plenty of Alaskan vegetation. The camp was situated right up the hill from the beach where he landed. It took a couple of hours for him to get his gear to his chosen campsite and get his tent set up. Thanks, Karen
  After getting settled in, a few of them accompanied Manager Tom on a trip to get fresh water. This was from a stream about a quarter of a mile away from camp. They had to use 2 wheelbarrows to help carry the water back to camp. It was a bit much to take in and he didn't get much sleep that night.
The next morning, everyone filled their packs with food, water, and extra clothing. They then set out for the over 2 mile hike to the falls.
 Everyone arrived hot and sweaty as it was a bright sunny day. They could already see the bears before they headed down the final hill to the viewing area.
Within ten or fifteen minutes, it was apparent that the bears came from every direction for the fish feast. And they came well equipped for fishing!
They walked very close to Greg and the six other viewers!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Denali trip comes to an end

We got the car loaded and prepared to head toward Anchorage. We decided to have lunch at the Alpenglow Restaurant which is situated high upon the mountainside. The views are incredible.
While Martina and I ate dessert, Greg practiced taking action photos with a rather quick ground squirrel.
Being a bit too camera happy, he hid and snapped this paparazzi-style photo of us leaving the restaurant!
On a Hollywood note, Martina will not be appearing in the next Batman movie but here she is posing by the Batmobile!
 This crazy car was located at a fireworks stand on the side of the road as we journeyed home. We also stopped to see if we could glimpse Mt. McKinley as it had evaded us the entire trip. Alas, Martina is searching in vain since the mountain stayed hidden behind the clouds.
After making a quick grocery stop once we were back in Anchorage, Martina treated us to a wonderful homemade meal! Sunday afternoon Greg and Martina headed down to Bird Creek to fish for salmon. They had a great time but came home only wet and muddy with not a fish or even a picture! I think they got so caught up in combat fishing that they forgot to snap a few photos. On Monday, we just hung out as it was time for Martina's trip to end. We took her to the airport that night. We really enjoyed having her with us here and it was nice for Greg to have someone else to aggravate besides just me! Both of us hope she will come back and explore more of this beautiful state.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Denali, Day 3

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Got up and made our way over to the Denali Wilderness Access Center to get our tickets for the bus trip into the park. We got our tickets for the 2:00 pm bus tour to Eielson Visitor Center. This Center is located 66 miles into the park but it is an 8 hour round trip on the bus. The road only goes around 92 or 93 miles into the park and ends. This bus ride gives you a good glimpse of the park and usually offers many opportunities to see wildlife. After securing our tickets, we got a quick lunch and came back to board the bus. Not long into our journey, we spotted an Arctic fox hunting for some small critter in the vegetation.
Even though it was an overcast day, everything was still beautiful and you could see fresh snow on the mountaintop. In fact, we encountered sleet briefly as we traveled up the mountains.
About an hour later we saw two figures laying in the grass on a little knoll. It turned out to be a sleeping grizzly sow and her cub. Eventually, the mom did raise her head long enough to check out the scene around her.
 Just a bit up the road we saw two caribou resting in the grass.
 It was an overcast and sleepy kind of day. There were caribou we spotted that were quite a bit more active farther down the road. The herd was just grazing and then suddenly took off running. We then saw a dark figure come out of the shrubs. A huge chocolate grizzly was scouting for weak ones among the group. Another grizzly was eyeing the edge the of the herd from higher up the mountain. Made it to the Visitor Center and as usual did not get a glimpse of Mt. McKinley.
However, on our way back we were treated to a beautiful rainbow over the Toklat River.
This was certainly a nice way to end a great day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Denali Day 2

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Slept in again. Who would have guessed? It's hard to crawl out of the bed on a rainy day with the soothing sound of the Nenana River right outside our balcony door. Eventually, our hunger was more powerful than our laziness and we made our way up to Healy. Here we enjoyed a good breakfast at the Totem Inn. After a filling meal and a lot of caffeine, we drove Martina up to Stampede Road.


Krakauer's book, Into the Wild, is one of the books she and her students discuss in literature class. We thought she would enjoy a first hand glimpse of Stampede Trail.

With all the recent rains we didn't think we would be able to make it far down the road. It was actually in better condition than last year and we made it to the end with no problems.
Greg and Martina walked a bit of the trail and began to ponder what McCandless was thinking when he did the same.
We made several stops along the road to walk on the tundra and enjoy the solitude and beauty.
We left Stampede after a few hours and made our way over to Otto Lake.
Martina and Greg decided to try their luck at fishing. The rain finally prevailed and we headed for our warm hotel room.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

First night in Denali National Park

We all slept in Wednesday morning. Headed toward Denali about 2:30 in the afternoon. After taking our time and making several stops along the way, we eventually arrived at our hotel around 7:30 that night. We had a nice dinner and decided to drive into the park to do some wildlife spotting.
 About halfway to Savage River, I spotted a huge bull moose really close to the park road.
We watched him a few minutes as he snacked on spruce tips and other foliage.
 This moose was huge with a very impressive rack!
 We continued to watch in solitude, which is the great thing about going into the park late at night. You basically have the road to yourself. We drove on to Savage River hoping to see a bear or lynx, but none materialized. As we made our way back, we saw two more bulls actually eating together. It is hard to tell from this photo, but they were really close to one another. 
We have actually never seen this before. As we headed back to the hotel, Martina scored her first official moose spotting when she was able to find the first moose we had encountered,
but then we encountered a 4th bull moose right on the road!
 We had never seen so many bulls congregated in such a short time. What a great night for viewing moose!