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!