Friday, September 19, 2014

August 26, 2014 The Denali Shuttle Bus to Wonder Lake

We got up really early to catch the 6:15 am bus to Wonder Lake. Once again the weather took away the amazing views along the way but we managed to take a lot of photos anyway.
I agree with Sigurd Olson. That is why I take trips like this one to Alaska. This quote is from 1944. I can't imagine what Sigurd would think about today's world. But I thank him for all he did to protect places so I can visit them today.

 "Olson was influential in the protection of the Boundary Waters and helped draft the Wilderness Act of 1964, becoming vice-president of The Wilderness Society from 1963 to 1967 and President 1968 to 1971. He also helped establish Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota, Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Sigurd also was a consultant to the Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall on wilderness and national park issues.
After over 50 years of hard work, Sigurd reached his goal. Full wilderness status was granted to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness by Jimmy Carter in 1978, four years before Sigurd died. His hard work was commemorated in many different ways, including in the naming of a central building of YMCA Camp Widjiwagan, located on nearby Burntside Lake." - taken from Wikipedia
Once again we saw moose in the willow a short distance into our trip.

A moose action shot as she ran through the willow.

The rain was falling most of the way to the Eielson Visitor Center. The low clouds blocked the mountains for the most part but the locals were out searching for berries.

The fall colors were evident at the higher elevations.

Polychrome Pass

This photo was taken at the Toklat River rest stop.

The Toklat River

Caribou and ....

...bears along the drive to Eielson and at the Eielson Visitor Center. This bear was so close to the visitor center that the rangers closed the trails around it.

A selfie near Wonder Lake

 Chrissy's pictures at Wonder Lake

 My pictures at Wonder Lake
Everybody has a camera nowadays...notice Chrissy laughing in the background. That's more rare than a bear sighting around here.

I once read that weather shouldn't keep you from going outside and taking pictures...there is always something to shoot, you just have to find it. I call this one..."Fall Colors on Evergreen".

Chrissy enjoying the wilderness at Wonder Lake.

The above and following pictures were taken on the ride back from Wonder Lake until we got off the bus to hike between Igloo and Cathedral Mountains.

As soon as we got off the bus, it started raining. We hiked back up the road toward Sable Mountain.

The rain let up for a bit and it was all smiles as we enjoyed the scenery around us.

Then rain came down again and Karen caught the next bus back to the car for some much needed rest. Ken, Chrissy & I decided forgo the much needed rest and hike along Igloo Creek.
Once we made it to the creek....

...Chrissy started noticing that lots of plants had been dug up or ripped out of the ground all around us...

...Ken & I said so what and insisted on continuing our hike...

Chrissy continued her CSI Denali investigation and eventually discovered enough evidence to convince us that a very large animal was in the area and that we should leave this area especially since the waist high ground cover prevented us from getting a good view of our route.
So we headed back to the road. By now the rain had stopped and the sun was breaking through the clouds. So we let several near empty buses go by without flagging them down. 
We enjoyed the sun and the scenery...

...and ignored each bus as they went by.

 The first bus we flagged down was full... the time we got to Igloo Creek Campground it was raining pretty steadily.

So now we have 33.6 miles to go and no bus shows up for over 45 minutes. Finally a bus stops but only has room for one, so Chrissy gets on it and Ken & I hiked onward. As the storm passes over us it gets darker and rains harder. 
After two more full buses pass by, we begin to wonder what happens if we get stuck in the park. Ken says we should break into this ranger cabin. I suggest we stop at a campground and see if two European hotties don't mind sharing their tent with us. We continue hiking.
Of course by now, I am getting hungry. We couldn't decide if this giant mushroom was edible, so we continue hiking in the rain. Ken spotted a snowshoe hare under a tree. I remind him of the Killer Rabbit scene in "Monty Python & the Holy Grail". We hike on. Eventually we get on a bus, find Chrissy & Karen and enjoy the warmth of a bar near the entrance to the park. After dinner, our waitress decides to tell us her life story. But here's the's actually interesting. She is from Serbia and is here doing her master's thesis on climate change research and is being paid by her country to be here. I ask why and she says because Serbia is a poor country and and they don't want all their young people to leave to find work or something like that. Anyway that is how I remember my day in Denali...but my memory sucks so maybe it happened least the pictures are real.

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