Denali, day two

How does one describe a perfect Father’s Day? How about an 8 hour day on a bus taking a 134 mile round trip into the recesses of the Denali National Park and Preserve. This wilderness must be seen to be appreciated. No words or photos can capture the majesty of this very special place. We were fortunate; we saw 9 bears, many caribou, 7 moose, dall sheep, magpies, ptarmigans, a wolf and extraordinary scenery, including the top of Denali or Mount McKinley if you prefer. Only 30% of visitors to Denali get to see the top of the mountain so it was a special treat that we got a clear day and wonderful view of the mountain.

The bus driver and the rangers clearly have a special relationship with this place. They asked us to consider and reflect upon what the wilderness means to us. Is it necessary? Does it enrich us in some ethereal way that is hard to explain? Does it matter if it is here for our children’s children? The answer, at least for me, is we need the wild places. They are a place where we can reconnect with the simpler and more fundamental aspects of our lives; where we are just one more animal in the food chain; where we are not supreme but simply another. These are the places where we can be reminded that we were given creation to care for it, not to use it up.

On our way to the bus we almost walked on momma moose and her two babies
First in line for the 0700 departure – at 0615.
Early in the journey out to Eielson we met the Alaska State Bird, the ptarmigan, a good sign according to our bus driver.
Next on the bucket list we saw dall sheep far up on the mountainside.
Always the mountains beckon us to come farther into the park.
closer….
…come closer still…
…this is where the wild things are…
…where caribou roam…
…where grizzly bears know no fear of man…
…where a mother can take her cubs out for a stroll…
…and caribou graze just a short distance away…

…yet still the mountain calls, come closer….

…see my many colors and formations…I can be soft and warm…
…or hard and cold.
Wolves are making a return to the park.
And we are some of the fortunate 30% who get to see the top of Denali – 75 miles away, the mountain towers over those mountains much closer to us.
As we return home to camp we are reminded that this is still first and foremost home to many four legged friends.

This is just a brief glimpse into the splendor that is Denali. And yet for all its majesty is is also so fragile, so easily spoiled. After seeing the beauty and natural wonders of this place, how do you answer the question, “Do we need to protect and keep these wild places for our children’s children?”

 

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