Sunday, November 10, 2013

Light Shows

Beautiful northern light shows recently!  And early too!  Several nights the displays started around 7:30-8:00 and lasted, in varying intensity, all night long.  All of these were taken from our driveway :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Eight-mile Lake

It's everybody's favorite time for a walk!  At least in our household :)  With temperatures above zero and still 9 hours of light, it's a beautiful time of year to be outside.  Eight-mile Lake is, well, eight miles from the Parks Hwy. down the Stampede Road.  You can still drive a car to the end of the road because there is not enough snow yet, so we took advantage and went out for a walk recently.
It's definitely Boss's favorite time of year!
Looking south is the Healy Ridge.

To the east is Mt. Dora.
Just behind us is a happy dog!
A gentle breeze creating a spin drift on the road.
This little spruce tree is completely wrapped in snow.
Eight-mile Lake is frozen over now.  This little cabin is up for sale if anybody's interested.  Dry cabin (no plumbing), also no electricity and no road access (a mile walk or ride from the road).  It has a grand view of Denali though :)

The lake seemed to be pretty solid.  It at least held Boss when he leaped out onto it! 

The Big Mountain was out all day.

Bear Scare

For the first time since we came to Alaska in 2007 I had a way too close encounter with a large male grizzly bear!  A friend and I took a ride out to the Teklanika River inside the park right after the government opened back up a few weeks ago.  From an overlook above the river we saw 19 caribou on the gravel bar and not too far away was a curious grizzly pressing his luck for a last meal before hibernation.  The animals were about half a mile away, so we decided to walk down the road a ways to get a little closer and still be above them and the river.  Right before we were where we wanted to be, the road curves into the forest causing you to lose sight of the river (and the bear...very big mistake).  When we rounded the curve and found ourselves quietly stepping up to the road's edge above the river, we both noticed there were no animals in sight.  As we're looking all around for the caribou and the bear, I was thinking, "this might not have been a good idea....we should probably not have done this."   At that moment, our friend Kevin says, "There's the bear...On the road...Coming towards us!"  First instinct I wanted to run.  In fact, Kevin had to remind me not to run.  We both turned and quickly started walking back towards the car which by that time was at least a half mile away.  Since we hadn't planned to taking a walk, we didn't have any kind of protection, bear spray or a gun.  I think we both saw our lives flash before our eyes in a momentary lapse of sanity.  As we walked, we held our arms up in the air to make ourselves appear much larger.  I glanced over my shoulder several times and always saw the bear with its head down, sniffing the road, meandering in our direction.  The first time I saw him, he was about 25 yards away.  He looked HUGE!  It was very frightening!  Once we rounded that curve on the road again we were out of sight from it.  And we never saw him again.  Big lesson learned that day about letting my guard down when out in the wilds of Alaska, roadside or not, and carrying some type of protection.  So thankful the bear was a nice bear and not interested in two humans!  This also reminded me to have faith in bears and to not let the fear of bears be too big, however, always keep a healthy respect for them and continue to do the things we have always practiced in the past to avoid bear encounters.  Which is to not go closer knowingly and sneakily, make noise to alert them of your presence, and carry protection!  All of which we were not doing!
You can see the park road behind the bear and the caribou.

The caribou were definitely watching the bear closely.  We should have taken lessons.
And I did not take time to snap a picture when the bear was right behind us!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Teklanika Ride

During the last couple of weeks of September it got cold!  We had temps down into the singles a couple of nights and a few inches of snow here and there.  Our jobs were done by the first of October so we resumed playing and working on projects at our place.  A four-wheeler ride out on the Stampede Trail was one of the top priorities.

Great day to bundle up and go for a ride.

Bear tracks in the trail!  How fresh?  We weren't quite sure until we came up on the vehicles that left these tracks (under the bear prints) within a few minutes!  WOW!  That was a close one!
A frozen beaver pond alongside the trail.

The beaver's dome was halfway covered in snow.
This is the top of the home.

A beautiful day to lay by the river and soak up the sun!

We rode downstream a little ways to where the Savage River meets the Teklanika River.

A great spot to look for neat rocks and call it a day!
As of now (Oct. 21st), we have had over a week of 50 degree temps so we are snow free again and back in T-shirts!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mt. Margaret Hike

One of my college roommates came to visit back in August and one of the first things we did was go for a hike in the park.  Mt. Margaret is about 15 miles into the park, just on the other side of the Savage River.  A fairly easy hike with great views of Denali and the Alaska Range plus a very good possibility of seeing the prized Dall sheep up close and personal :)
Fall colors were just starting to make their appearance.
It was a gorgeous day...Denali was booming!
Lindsey and I hung down low, she was 5+ months pregnant when they visited, while her husband, Aaron, went for the summit and the sheep. 

Looking south at the AK Range.
With time to scour the surrounding area, we spotted a grizzly bear in the shrubs on the other side of the drainage from us.  It was very fun to just hang out and watch it graze on berries. 

Aaron taking a breather once he met back up with us.  He did see some big rams pretty close while on top.
We got to see a solo caribou and moose with twin calves on the way back to the car. 

Driving out of the park we saw a few big bull moose.  It was rutting season while they were here and big bulls like this come back to this same spot every year to compete for dominance and females.

This guy seems to have the biggest rack, but is he tough enough?

We thought we were going to get to see some action between these two but nothing ever happened.
Another beautiful day in the park!  Thank you guys so much for coming to visit!  We had a blast!