Alaska Cruise
July 2014

to train to Denali   to North Pole, AK

Denali National
Park & Preserve

Tuesday, July 22
Weather: Partly cloudy, Hi 68

all day  Denali Shuttle Bus to Eielson Visitor Center (8 hr roundtrip)

Fitbit stats:
To bed: 8:49 pm, Got up: 4:29 am (7:24 asleep)
Steps: 8,556 (4.01 miles)
Floors: 37

We wanted to take one of the first shuttles into the park, both to avoid later crowds and to have a better chance of seeing wildlife. Unfortunately, this meant getting up VERY early to catch the shuttle from our hotel to the WAC in time for the 6:15 am park shuttle departure.

crossing Savage River, into the park

Our first wildlife sighting. Tiny white specks on a mountain = Dall sheep. The close-up shots were made by lining up my phone's camera lens with my binoculars, then finding the sheep. It's a bit tricky to manage and they were too far away to get in focus, but at least you can tell they are sheep.

National Park & Preserve scenery
East Fork River
For some reason, my cousins didn't appreciate this amazing view. While I was taking these photos, they were sitting on the uphill side of the bus, determinedly 'admiring' the rock wall there.

Polychrome Overlook
'Selfie' at Polychrome Overlook

A caribou and a bear across the road from each other!
The caribou was obviously not concerned about the bear, since he stopped to pee before continuing on his way.

And the bear didn't seem interested in the caribou, either. These would be a lot more impressive with something better than an 8MP cell phone camera... oh well.
The bear wandered past our bus and down the road. I took a video (on youtube HERE), but you can't really tell it's a bear -- it just looks like a small light-colored blob, unfortunately.

Some more caribou (2 caribou and a calf).
A caribou in the road.
I have a video of this caribou
posted at youtube.

Approaching Eielson Visitor Center

Eielson Visitor Center
Actual view of the mountain peaks. McKinley is so hidden by clouds you can't even tell it is there. Oh well.
A pretty quilt on display at the Visitor Center.

panorama of Mount Eielson (since McKinley is hiding)

A tiny haystack on a hill =
A grizzly up on the mountain slope.

This is on our way back out of the park, so likely the same two caribou that we saw before. This binocular telephoto attempt came out a bit better.

A bull caribou sleeping on top of an embankment.

More scenery.

And back over Polychrome Pass. These photos are for my cousins, who once again refused to appreciate the view in person.

More scenery.

Spotted a golden eagle. Honestly, the black dot in the clouds is an eagle.
As we followed the eagle along the road, we found a small group of Dall sheep up on one of the hillsides. The eagle was joined by a second eagle, and the two of them circled around above the sheep. It is thought that golden eagles may attempt to knock lambs off of steep mountainsides. If they are successful and the fall kills the lamb, they will eat it. Perhaps they were hoping to find a lamb they could knock off a precipice, although I don't think this slope was steep enough for that. At any rate, we did notice that the sheep up on the top of the ridge did get down rather quickly when the eagles got closer.

and 2 up on
the ridgeline

As we made our way back to the park entrance, we encountered a moose-jam -- a traffic jam caused by a bull moose drinking from a stream near the road.

We were going to eat at Prospector's Pizzeria the second night in Denali, but they were taking *forever* to seat people because they were holding multiple tables for a group of 22 (we could have gotten our pizza, eaten, and been gone by the time they were ready to seat that group) and they didn't seem to care, so I snapped this photo of their 49 beers on tap and we went back to the Salmon Bake, where we were seated in minutes. This time I had their Alaskan halibut fish and chips.


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