|Beginning of Fall|
It was August 23, and fall had already come to Denali. Most of the fall color was in the ground cover, bushes and the red and purple Fire Weed which grows prolifically. There are few large trees in the park because the thick moss acts as an insulating blanket keeping the ground permanently frozen below the first few inches.
Our first experience in Denali was spectacular. There were several cows and a couple bulls not far from the road. One of the bulls still had velvet on his antlers and other other had lost most of his, with some shreds still hanging on. They didn't seem to mind all the cars and people, but instead munched away on the brush. It was not raining at this point and I was able to get some nice clear shots.
|A Big Guy|
|Aspens damaged by Porcupines.|
We also learned that the Red Squirrels love mushrooms and will preserve them by putting them in trees to dry. They will then store them to be eaten later in the winter when most of the food is covered by several feet of snow.
|Mushroom In A Tree|
As I said earlier, there were mushrooms everywhere. Here are a few we saw on our hike.
|A Strange One|
We thought the hike time was round trip but learned that it was one way! We had just enough time to say hi to the park sled dogs. These are working dogs. The Park Service uses dog sleds to get into the interior of the park during winter. No motorized snow mobiles here. A few days later we came back for a sled dog demonstration.
|Snoopy was on to something|
|A beautiful dog|
One Alaska town was to be named after this plentiful bird. The town was settled by gold miners in the late 1800s and in 1902 the local post office was established requiring a community name. Due to the prevalence of Ptarmigan in the area that name was suggested as the official name for the new community. However, the spelling could not be agreed on and Chicken was used to avoid embarrassment. The town of Chicken is still there with a population of 7. Really. I couldn't make this stuff up.
The adventure was about to get more exciting. Come back tomorrow for tales of our fist bush plane flight by the mountains, valleys and glaciers of Denali National Park!