Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Great One

Now enroute to Denali with a pass again by Potter's Marsh outside Anchorage.  Here, along with Tufted Puffin in Kachemak Bay, I took two other favorite photos of the trip.  

Below is a Mew Gull (Larus canus) perched on a rock in the glassy water of Potter's Marsh.

Unfortunately, we created a problem for the Arctic Terns by wandering too close to their egg which they had laid just along the edge of the water, but also along the edge of a parking area.  

When we wandered away from the egg, the Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) perched on a rock at the water's edge and near its egg.  

Now we are enroute to Denali.  Our overnight stop was at a very nice Best Western motel right on Lake Lucille.  Beautiful!  Nice place to stay.  However, curious that I managed not to get any photos. 

Enroute to Denali, we trolled an unpaved road near the small town of Talkeetna looking unsuccessfully for Spruce Grouse.  Talkeetna is the town where climbers begin their preparation for their Denali ascents. 

Landscapes like the one above with dramatic skies are common.  This is difficult to capture in a photo but that didn't stop me from trying.

I snapped this photo of an American Robin (Turdus migratorius) during a stop at a scenic overlook.  Again, I have new respect for our common American Robin.  I saw American Robin every day of the trip.

This red Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) presented itself at a stop in the village of Old Cantwell.

Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) are common and I think we saw them nearly every day.  This bird was swimming near the shore of an inland pond on Hatcher Pass Road.  On this relatively small pond we also saw Surf Scoters.  Seemed to me like an unlikely place for them, but apparently not.  

Denali is as spectacular as it has been described.  But it's huge, remote and untouchable and unknowable.  We spent our entire visit there riding in a green school bus to the Eielson Visitor Center - 66 miles out and 66 miles back.  To be perfectly honest I saw Denali from the window of a school bus.  I'm pretty sure I will not do this again.  

During our brief stop around the Eielson Visitor Center we looked unsuccessfully in the nearby skree for Northern Wheatear.  There were plenty of cute Arctic Ground squirrels (Spermophilus parryii) around.  

The meaning for the word Denali, from the Athabaskan language of the Alaska natives living near the mountain, is 'the Great One'. Apparently, Denali is most commonly shrouded in clouds and mist and actually seeing the mountain is not guaranteed.  Leaving the Eliason Visitor Center the clouds parted momentarily to reveal the peak. As a schoolgirl I learned that our tallest mountain was Mount McKinley.  What I didn't learn is that the name Mt. McKinley is frowned upon by Alaskan natives.  There have been attempts to officially rename Mt. McKinley to Denali. This effort has been blocked by members of congress from Ohio - the home state of President McKinley.  Why am I not surprised by this?

Several fairly large, but distant herds of caribou were seen throughout the day.  These two rested close to the road where this photo was got from the bus window.

The dramatic scenery of Denali National Park and Preserve.

No comments: