Saturday, June 30, 2007

20,320 Feet of Rock and Ice!

Mark-E is awed by the view of North Americas highest peak--Denali!

My nephew Mark-E just arrived this week. This is his first time up to Alaska. He is a Colorado mtn boy and is totally excited to be up here in the endless wilderness and to see as much wildlife as possible. This is no ordinary kid. He gets excited about everything outdoors: wildlife of course, flowers, mountains, rocks, bugs, plants, clouds. He makes me take notice again of subtle things that I have seemed to begun to overlook over the last few years. The other cool thing about him is that he loves to eat fruit and veggies and try just about any food at least once. I think this kid is from another planet...don't most 13 yr olds hate everything?!?

Mark is a total mountain goat and wanted to hike up every mtn or ridge we saw. We bagged 2 different peaks during our overnight jaunt into the park. Our first evening we climbed about 2000 ft up to what he called peak #4 because it was the highest of four points on a ridge above the Savage River. We hiked until about 11 pm in the warm evening sunlight.

We stopped a lot because Mark was fascinated by every little thing growing in the tundra. We thought this cotton grass looked like little people with fuzzy white hair singing into the wind.

There were sooooo many flowers in bloom. He kept saying that his aunt Cheryl would really like to be here because she studied alpine flowers. He had me take pictures of all of them. Pink plumes (aka bistort) - this is one of the plants Cheryl studied in grad school.

Mark simultaneously checks out the Alaskan poppies and eats spicy trail mix

On our first hike a golden eagle swooped down right over our heads and landed about 30 ft away. It was being chased by a raven.

Nice view of endless tundra in Denali Park

He thought the shooting stars were really cool - we went trough fields of them.

Mark-E sits in a field of shooting stars and mountain avens

Glaucous gentian--ouch! If any flower needs a common name its this one

I couldn't remember the name of this flower and it wasnt in the flower book either

Mark checks out Denali in the late evening sunlight.

Here is where a small clear water stream mixes with the silty glacially fed water of the Toklat River.

We did see a few animals (sheep, caribou, ptarmigan, eagles, grizzly bear) but since it was so warm and sunny most of them were hunkered down in the brush during the heat of the day. In the late afternoon some thunderstorms popped up and it was a bit cooler. This caribou ran right alongside our bus.
The park is patrolled by dog teams in the winter. We saw a dog sled demo at the park headquarters kennel.

Mark and I hiked up to a ridge high above the park road to check out the view

1 comment:

John said...

Way to get the blog updated, Edster! All those pictures make me miss Alaska a lot. Looks like you scored with the weather at Denali.