Puffy Clouds

puffy 2 The forecast for this morning was for partly sunny weather. Sunny meant that it would be brighter earlier so we set out at 5 a.m., although we wondered if the smoke/haze would still be around. It was not very sunny, but also not hazy, and there were puffy clouds in the sky.

puffy 1The mountains on Polychrome Pass had some very interesting clouds around them. And the sunrise over the pass was quite pretty. Hector was really pleased with this morning light, and with the variety of days that we had in the park so far.

puffy 6

Look out below!

Look out below!

puffy 10puffy 8We stopped at a couple of ponds that Hector had been waiting for the right kind of light to photograph.

puffy 9puffy 11puffy 12More Dall’s sheep were on the hillside. This “northerly race” is bright white, while the stone sheep further south in Canada are gray.  They only come down lower in the spring, the rest of the time they are tiny white dots on the high peaks.

We made our customary stop at Toklat in the quiet morning before the buses start. Something about this place and the Toklat River was very soothing. A great place to just sit and enjoy the quiet.  puffy 13

puffy 14Denali was wearing a couple of her shawls this morning, but was lovely as always.

puffy 15puffy 17We have been so fortunate with the grizzly bear sightings and saw another bear close up.

puffy 59Then, at the risk of being repetitive, more caribou 🙂puffy 69

Then a really big bear; he was impressive.puffy 60

puffy 25puffy 24puffy 29Our stop at Eilson Visitor Center did not change the view of Denali, she was still partially enveloped in clouds and very elegant.puffy 27

puffy 28puffy 30puffy 26Since this was our next to last day, we continued to Wonder Lake. That is always a pretty drive, since there is a view of the Alaska Range on the way.

puffy 31puffy 33As we drove around, Angel guarded the camera equipment in the car, usually sleeping on the camera bag (although she has a pillow). Today she slept by one of the cameras, and put a nose print on the lens. We would not have it any other way.puffy 34

Back at the kettle ponds near Wonder Lake, we found lots of ducks swimming about.puffy 39

puffy 40puffy 42puffy 46Then we stopped at what Hector called the beaver mansion, a beaver lodge completely covered with fireweed on top. He had spotted it previously, but this time we bushwhacked down to the water’s edge on the other side. There were lots of grasses and wildflowers around the pond.  Simply beautiful.

puffy 43puffy 45As Hector was taking photographs, a caribou walked right by the beaver lodge. We hoped to see Mr. Beaver but he never made an appearance.

puffy 47puffy 51When we reached Wonder Lake, we found a caribou standing in the lake by the shore. Hector named him a fiberglass caribou because he did not move for about fifteen minutes while we watched. We later found out from a ranger that caribou can sleep standing up.

puffy 48puffy 54On our way back, we stopped at another kettle pond. Seems there is something to see in each of these.puffy 50

There are very few developed and marked trails after mile 15 of the park. But you can walk off the road almost anywhere (there was only one area that was closed off while we were there, near Sable Pass, due to bear activity).

puffy 55puffy 49puffy 53The wide open meadows and fields of tundra provide lots of visibility so you can look out for bears, but the tundra can be tough to walk on for long periods of time. So it can make for very slow going. I actually grew fond of walking on tundra this time around since I knew what to expect from our last visit eight years ago.

Hector says the soft tundra is like walking on a memory foam mattress.

An odd sensation.

puffy 57There is an immediate reward for stepping out of the road into the park, with its unending beauty spread out before you.

As we continued heading home we found more caribou running down on the road.

puffy 22And another bear.

Now THATs a bone!

Now THATs a bone!

Toklat always gave us a chance to give Angel a little walk.

puffy 66puffy 67Then we headed home, while watching the buses maneuvering on Polychrome Pass. It looks pretty scary, but they do a great job.

More caribou was out along the way. The park buses wait patiently for the caribou or any wildlife to decide where they want to go.puffy 68

puffy 7So far, every day in the park had been unique, and this day was no exception with the prettiest clouds we had seen yet.

~ Brenda

10 thoughts on “Puffy Clouds

  1. Glad to see you stopped at some of the ponds and walked around. Those looked very inviting but connecting bus schedule at Wonder Lake didn’t really allow for much wandering. Love the clouds.

  2. All right, Hector! You really out did yourself this time. I don’t believe I have ever seen such magnificent photos. What a joy to read through this post! The views are so beautiful with all the color variation…wow! How neat that you saw so many grizzly. They are so huge! I love the caribou and those unique antlers and the massive necks. That is such a lovely photo of Brenda in the wildflowers:)

  3. Just loving this whole Alaska story. What an amazing opportunity to see Denali NP this way, day after day! So many bears!!! (We never saw one when we were there for a few days.) The photos have been marvelous. Thanks so much for taking the time to blog even with your long days. Can’t believe you have service!

    • It was really an amazing opportunity. I know what you mean about wildlife. This spring we went out at dawn four days in a row to find wolves. We saw one and only through someone else’s scope. Then, in Denali, we returned to the areas with known wolf dens several times and saw none again. The wildlife can be elusive. We are actually writing after the fact, we did not have service while in the park (except when we were at the campground by the entrance).

  4. I love photos of clouds and Hector really captured some fabulous images. Your time in Alaska must have seemed like it flew by but what adventures you two have had. Thanks for sharing all of them with us!

    • Me too! We are back in Alaska for a bit, stretching it to the last minute! We should start heading down through BC sometime after the first week of September. I was looking through photos since we arrived in Alaska the other day, and it seems like a dream.

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