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.
The 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.
More 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.
As 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.
Then 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.
When 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.
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).
The 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.
As we continued heading home we found more caribou running down on the road.
Toklat always gave us a chance to give Angel a little walk.