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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

First Day in Denali

Mount Denali
At Denali, we spent three days at the Teklanika campsite, and two days in the Savage River campsite. The sky was mostly clear for our whole stay there, and we even saw Denali three out of the five days! Did you know that only thirty percent of people that go to that national park get to see Denali?  This is because Denali creates its own ecosystem because of the snow evaporating, resulting in the mountain covering itself in clouds.

Morgan at the beginning of the eleven-hour bus ride
On our first day in the park, we decided to take the eleven-hour bus ride to Wonder Lake. We got the whole package with that decision, including bumpy roads and multiple sick and crying babies (for the whole eleven hours). But there were also amazing things I saw on that ride. Starting with the animals, the first one we saw was probably an Arctic Ground Squirrel. Those little things were everywhere, I would look one way and there would be two darting under the wheels of the bus and the next minute there would be one sitting on a bridge watching the bus drive by. I don't remember the order of the rest of the animals, but we spotted many Dall Sheep (those sheep are the reason that the park is here) and Bald Eagles.

Denali Caribou
Close to the third hour of riding on the bus I had seen three caribou -- one of them was even walking on the road in front of us for nearly a half mile which reminded my of the Polar Express movie getting stopped by caribou. Shortly after that, on the left side of the bus, was a herd of caribou running north to get away from he blistering hot forty-degree weather and to find some new grass to munch on.

When we were riding back to our Teklanika campsite, someone spotted a blonde grizzly bear on the right. I was at the front of the bus, so I looked towards the bear  through my binoculars and realized the bear was really just a bear-shaped rock. They have a lot of those in Denali. I mentioned it to the bus driver, and she started to move on until Mrs. Virginia snapped a picture and blew it up as much as possible which blurrily showed a mama bear's nose and eyes and her two cubs sleeping with her. Oops, I was wrong. We stopped to watch them for a little bit even though all you could see were blonde blobs from the distance we were at.

Grizzly bear and twin cubs
I think the animals were the best part of the bus ride but seeing Denali was awesome! Another part I really liked were the wildflowers that grew alongside the road. The bus driver (she was really nice) gave me a wildflower guide so that I could identify some of them. The most abundant and easy the spot were Shrubby Cinquefoil, Blue bells, Arnica, Wild Rose, and Eskimo Potato.

One animal that we didn't see on the bus was a moose. Which was interesting because coming into Denali, we saw a moose and her calf swimming in a pond and a mama moose with twins grazing on grass coming out of Denali. I guess moose don't like buses.


  1. Wow Morgan, sounds pretty cool so far, can't wait to see more posts on your adventure -Aunt Jenn

  2. That picture of Denali is fantastic, Morgan, and what a gift that the clouds cleared and you were able to see it almost the whole time you were there! It reminds me of Eric's trip to Kenya last year when the clouds lifted on the last day from Mount Kilimanjaro (who I understand does not usually like to show her face) and he was able to get a full view that morning of the whole mountain. The beautiful gifts from the Creator keep on coming, and I am so grateful for your experiences.

    I would not have guessed that Arctic squirrels and bear-shaped rocks would have been so prevalent! I will keep my eyes on the lookout for them, if I'm ever so fortunate to be able to visit Alaska.