Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kantishna Hills Hike

While out in Kantishna we took half a day to do some hiking in the Kantishna Hills.  It was an incredible blue sky day, not too hot, and The Mountain was BOOMING!

I love this high country, tundra walking.  Great views and when there is a trail it is smooth sailing :) 
Getting higher up in the hills, bringing the Alaska Range into view.

Fairly fresh bear tracks going down the trail.
Looking northwest....beyond the Kantishna hills the Tanana Valley stretches endlessly.

Occasionally you will cross a section where a seeping spring is surfacing and the jungle plants of Alaska (willow and alder shrubs) swallow the route.  These are the most dangerous areas to hike through because you can't see what's around the corner, so you just make lots of noise and hope that if there is anything close by it scurries away.
We ran across a ptarmigan family up there complete with mom and dad and more chicks than we could count.

What a day!
Wonder Lake
A great spot for a picnic before we headed back down to the Roadhouse.
Feeling so blessed :)

The End of the Road

The Kantishna Roadhouse invited Andrew and I out a few weeks ago to do some presentations on climbing Denali. They also put us up in a small cabin and fed us!  It is quite a treat to drive our own vehicle out there.  And we had amazing weather and great views of Denali all weekend.  
We saw a few bears coming and going.  These two were quite a ways out on the river bar.

A third one up on the tundra slope. 
Nice bull caribou just hanging out.

What a wonderful treat when we got to Wonder Lake!!!  A beautiful bull moose eating grass off the bottom of the lake.  This was a once and million sighting!

Fireweed with Denali in the background :)
The rest of the pictures are from our drive out of the park.  We left about 3 AM because we thought it would be nice to catch the first morning's light and hoped to see some good wildlife before the road got busy.  This was our first bear sighting of the day.  He was lazing around in the grass beside a pond munching on vegetation.  
A bit cloudy but very nice morning light on the mountains with the vegetation covered Muldrow glacier in the foreground.

A few caribou grazing.
Another young grizzly looking for something in the brush close to the road.

The third grizzly!  We saw a fourth on the other side of this valley, but it was very far away. 
Crossing a creek bed with gorgeous golden light hitting the hillside.

Definitely double click on these photos to enlarge them.

Beautiful little fox who just had a successful breakfast hunt.

Incredible light with some caribou down below.

We rounded a corner to see this big guy (#5) coming down the road.

Pour guy had these two magpies flying and squawking all around him.  Amazingly, he didn't seem to mind.

Back on the pavement at the end of our weekend, a couple big bull caribou were resting in the dwarf birch with only their antlers poking up.