Denali, Day 4, Tuesday, July 4 – Independence is off-trail in the park (no pics yet)

Another day sleeping in until 10am and I had no plans on doing anything taxing or physical since I was pretty tired and sore from my hike yesterday. I got up, had coffee and my sun salutations, made some fried potatoes for breakfast and decided to try to hop on that 11:25 Eielson bus again.

However the first bus that showed up was a Wonder Lake bus and the driver was super friendly so I got on and pondered the option of another trip out to Wonder Lake. I sat in the back of the bus just in front of a couple from the UP of Michigan. They told me they had not seen anything other than squirrels yet and as I had done the two days prior I mentioned that was common and to not give up yet. I had a whole seat to myself and they seemed to enjoy having the windows down, something that seems uncommon for many buses so often times the buses are too hot for me. This seemed like it might be a really good fit and once again I contemplated a trip all the way to Wonder Lake even though the skies looked quite grey towards the interior of the park. As our trip progressed we saw the typical animals, sheep that were not much more than white dots on a rock, lots of caribous really high on a ridge, but the real treat was the sow with her two cubs. She was closer to the road and more in the open that the days prior and so I got a lot more shots with all three visible. By the time we got to Eielson, the clouds look really terrible for Wonder Lake, but it was pretty nice at Eielson so I decided to jump off the bus and try to catch a bus back to see the bears some more.

What happened next is totally unexplainable to me, but in a good way. I went on stand-by and there was a lot of people waiting, including some unruly and rude kids that were jumping all over the plants and the area they weren’t supposed to.  Not their fault, I blame the parents who were not teaching their kids to behave and respect the rules of the park. After missing the first bus that left the dispatcher said they could get me and everyone else on the next bus in about 25 minutes, but instead of standing around I decided to enjoy the day, told the dispatcher to take my name off the list and started walking the park road heading back to the entrance! I made it all the way to the plains areas where the large caribou nursery herd was last year. I’m not sure how far it is, perhaps two or three miles, but the experience was amazing. So quiet and peaceful.  I know how easy it is to be silent enjoy the scenery and that will become problematic for me in a day or so as you will find out if you read on…..

Back to the present, the first bus I flagged down was driven by a less than pleasant driver, Evan. I got to sit in the front seat right behind the driver so I thought I got lucky, especially since we saw the sow and Cubs again and they gave an even better opportunity to get more photos, but the driver didn’t offer much for the bus patrons and snapped at me when I grabbed the bar going around a corner.  I think it’s a bar that is there to patrons to hold onto. Maybe he was having a bad day but I needed to get away from his grumpy attitude so I disembarked from his bus at Toklat and there was a caribou right on the river that gave me a great opportunity for photos. My next driver was a sweet older man who had some fun stories and so the ride back was quite pleasant. More white dots on a rock and we did get to see some caribou right after Toklat too. A good day overall.


Dinner was five-minute couscous with black beans and some Punjab Eggplant mixed in. It was easily enough for two, possibly even three so I saved half and will have a nice meal tomorrow that is ready-made. My snacks were bagel and avocado, three mandarin oranges and some packaroons.

As mentioned before I’m going to need to break up posting my photos since there are so many.  Blog post for now and I’ll add photos as I get to them.

This entry was posted in Denali National Park, Life In Alaska, Photography. Bookmark the permalink.