Honeymoon Day 10: Denali National Park and Preserve

This post is admittedly not about Sprout. In fact, it is pre-Sprout. However, we thought some people may be interested in our Alaskan travel and wanted to move our prior posts to this blog. This is post 10 of 13 in our Honeymoon Series.

Today we encountered numerous terrestrial animals as we journeyed to the foot of Denali. It started when, as we were leaving the cabin, a fat rabbit ran across the path a few feet in front of us, and not far behind was a gorgeous red fox with a huge bushy tail and an even larger appetite based on the look in the his eyes! He stopped a moment to check us out, decided we weren’t food and continued after the rabbit. Yum.

We had some time to kill before catching the bus and we went searching for NyQuil for Aaron (we developed uncomfortable congestion since we’ve been in Alaska) and lunch for Jacqui. We boarded the bus around 1 PM and were told we would not arrive at our destination until 7:30 (that’s an average speed of less than 15 mph, we calculated). Clearly we didn’t do too much reading up on what was in store. Apparently, in Denali NP, buses are constantly traveling back and forth along a 90-mile dirt road in the park. In fact, these buses are the only way you can see the interior of the park (on land, — flights are permitted). So, the first part of the trip to the Roadhouse is essentially the bus tour of the park.

One of the main attractions in the park is the wildlife, and we saw much of it. Some animals, like grizzlies, we saw several times (much to our delight). Moose and caribou were also plentiful, but our fellow riders were a bit obsessed with halting the bus for photo-ops for every moose or caribou (or rock that resembles one) we passed. This made our trip even longer than expected. However, it was easy to ignore the passing time by absorbing the spectacular scenery. We were even able to see both north and south peaks of Denali peeking out from under its halo of clouds (once we knew where to look – deceptively higher in the sky that expected). Here are some of the sub-arctic inhabitants we encountered:

A mama grizzly (the ‘blondie’) and her cub (brown).
Caribou
A grizzly digging for roots. The harsh environment in the subarctic limits the availability of meat and fish in the area, thus these bears subsist on primarily roots and other vegetation.
Another bear walking along the road… the buses aren’t allowed to honk. We just had to sit and wait.

 

Denali. Can you find its peak? Look higher!
Wonder Lake. Too bad Denali was hidden behind clouds.

The most impactful event of the day occurred when we arrived at Kantishna. Our single piece of luggage for the 3-day trip had not arrived with us. Here’s our story. We were told upon boarding to leave our luggage at the back of the bus and climb on. This is exactly what we did, so it seems that the bus crew decided to leave our bag on the sidewalk for some reason. When we reported to them that our luggage was missing, instead of courteously accommodating us and taking responsibility for the mistake, they claimed that no bag had our name on it (which may be true, but we were also not instructed to label it); in fact, they assumed (without asking us) that we had no luggage. They are in the process now of calling all nearby lodges to see if our bag ended up going elsewhere. The staff assured us they would do what they could to locate our bag, but given the remoteness of our location it would not be until the next evening, at the earliest, that we would see our bag – if it were found. Nothing much more to do other than have some dinner and get some rest before our hiking tomorrow.

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