Sunday, May 30, 2010

Alaska Holiday - Day 11, Denali

Monday morning we headed into Denali earlier than on the Sunday for the bus, to beat the traffic and the other people into the park. We drove up to Savage River, as far as you can go in a car without a permit, and then started by walking the Savage River trail.

On the edge of the car park this puffed up Willow Ptarmigan shows how cold it was at 6:30 am:

The trail along the river valley was in shade:

A White-crowned Sparrow with the crown raised for his singing display:

A Mew Gull was disturbing the bottom of a pool to try and flush out something to eat:

The trail was very pretty, the birds relatively scarce (which is true I think for the park) so we headed on to the road into the park.

We walked the three miles up hill from the gate to the Primrose Ridge stop, which is where there are some natives present, who discuss and describe their culture to selected tours. The stop also has loos and good scenic views.

On the way common birds included Wilson's Warbler:

Willow Ptarmigan:

and Orange-crowned Warblers, American Magpies, White-crowned and American Tree Sparrows:

We did watch a white morph Northern Harrier cruise over some trees in the middle distance but didn't add anything new.

We did however stop to watch a porcupine having a mooch about when we reached the Primrose Ridge stop:

Strange beasts. We also saw a Moose with a calf, though I managed to fail to get the calf into the shot:

And this ground squirrel won the prize for cuteness and let us get really quite close:

Less common but around are the red morph taiga Fox Sparrows:

The views from the road again were both dramatic and breath taking and the photographs fail to do justice to the sheer scale of it all:

This is the view up to Primrose Ridge:

We failed to locate the trail head, which we were told was just a gap in the brush, so having spent a good half an hour looking for it and it being past lunchtime, we decided to walk back to the car (and finally found the trail head in the process!), head back to the motel and pack for an early start for the nine hours drive time trip to Seward planned for the following day.

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