Day 72 - Tuesday, June 11 - Milepost 6118 - Birdcount 265 - Denali National Park, AK
(BF's Journal). The five Barren Ground Caribou we watch today are quite photogenic, especially when viewed at 200 ft. through my 420 mm camera lens. The antlers now are full grown and truly magnificent compared to the stubby outgrowths the caribou showed a month ago in the Yukon Territory. When the caribou lie in the alpine grass, a small part of their head is visible but the huge antlers extend far out like barren tree trunks. We also see another Grizzly Bear, this one feeding on plants along the Savage River about a mile from the park road. The alpine landscape is so barren, the air so clear and our elevated roadway so high that we can see for miles in all directions and through binoculars the grizzly is easy to observe for the half-hour we watch. I also spot a few smaller mammals (Brown Lemming, Arctic Ground Squirrel and Snowshoe Hare), but I am looking forward to tomorrow when we take the bus further into the interior of Denali where wildlife is more plentiful.
Just as we start to leave the Savage River area a Willow Ptarmigan struts beside the road. I jump from the Pathfinder, grab my camera and get a great closeup using the car as a blind. Meanwhile Shari films the bicolored bird with the camcorder, recording his noisy cackles too. In mid-June we catch the Ptarmigan in molting spring plumage, a striking contrast between colors of winter snow and summer tundra.
(SF's Journal). We move to Reilly Campground in Denali National Park and register for the next five days. We also purchase tickets for the shuttle bus that departs tomorrow at 6:30 AM for Eielson Visitor Center some 60 miles into the park. After lunch we head out the park road on the 23 miles private cars are allowed to drive to see what there is to see. The grizzly of yesterday is back on the other side of the road closer to the bridge Bert wants to walk across to hike the road for some bird that only lives in high elevations. I start to worry and dread the next few days and begin to wish we had only signed up for a two day stay here in the park rather than a five day stay. I am finding there is not much to do after one takes the bus ride.
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