Someone told me that maps that are not made in Alaska call Denali Mt. Mckinnley. They said that Alaskan made maps label it as Denali, an Athabascan term meaning “The Great One”. I prefer to call it Denali. I have also heard that less than 10% of the visitors to the park ever get to see the peak because of the weather and the near constant cloud mass around the mountain. I was rather skeptical about my chances of seeing the peak as rain pelted down on my tent throughout the night.
As we got our car pass to drive into Denali on Sunday morning rain continued to fall. The skies were overcast and rain persisted throughout the day. As I have previously stated Denali was a photography challenge as my telephoto lense was woefully inadequate for the vastness of the park and the lighting and my camera‘s metering did not always agree in the rainy overcast conditions. All was not bad as I did bring home some good images and many wonderful memories
Denali was such an experience. We were so incredibly lucky to have won a vehicle pass to drive in. We left just before sun-up inbound. The ranger at the station giving an orientation asked us, “How far do you plan to go in? My brother, always the character, answered, “You see that gas gauge right there? When it gets to ½ a tank we will turn around and come back.” “Gotcha!” The ranger replied.
We were giddy with anticipation in spite of the wet weather. The park reminded me of a beautiful woman veiled in lingerie as the cloud cover seemed to compliment and tease simultaneously as it veiled and revealed various aspects of the terrain. The visual could take your breath while at the same time leave you yearning to see more of what was concealed beyond the veil of clouds.
The park’s fauna was as amazing as the scenery. I quickly found how inadequate my telephoto capabilities were as I watched with envy some of the other photographers who had 500mm and 600mm tripod mounted telephoto lenses. Glassing with binos from the slopes my brother pointed out a large bull moose following a cow and a calf. The cow moose did not share his amorous mood. Suddenly his nose went up into the air as he caught a scent. He quickly turned and trotted off across the valley alternately trotting, running and walking as he never veered from his path. We moved back to the car and drove on to another view point ahead of his line of travel. We glassed again as he continued to trek never waivering for perhaps a mile or more.
I was glassing ahead of his line of travel as we already knew what must be there. Suddenly I noticed a cow moose concealed in a willow patch. As I watched two other moose appeared. The other two was another cow and calf combination. The bull moose slowed on his approach. He was massive with antlers so enormous that they resembled a rocking chair strapped to his head. This single cow showed very little interest in him as well. She seemed to be rather annoyed with his presence. As Wilt Chamberlain would no doubt say, “No play for Mr. Gray.” We finally decided to leave the quad of moose and move on further into the park.
This moose was just too distant for my telephoto
Mama Grizzly and cubs
A couple of more grizzly. While we were watching these two grub upslope the uphill grizzly dislodged a large rock that rolled downhill striking the other bear. It was not injurious but it was rather comical.
Three more grizzly
There is a statistic that only about 10% of the visitors to Denali National Park ever get to see the peak of Denali revealed because of the ever present weather systems that seem to perpetually shroud the peak. Through out my visit the seductive princess teased and tormented me with her playful tease, revealing only what she wanted me to see and leaving the rest for the imagination. Finally after the sun had settled behind the western horizon the temptress revealed herself to me with her figure seductively bathed in that Alaskan twilight. I was lucky enough to capture the moment and share it here as follows.
Friends are the best collectibles