Where Moose and Bear say „Good Night“ to each other
(Zur deutschen Version.)Here comes the second part of my round trip through Alaska and Yukon. I booked my trip with the German tour operator TUI, because it contains everything that is possible to see in two weeks time.
We have to get up very early, because our prebooked “Tundra and Wilderness Tour” starts before 8 am. But we can be happy about that, the earliest tours start at 5 am.
We hear a steady whooshing outside and we hope it´s only the big fir trees in front of our window or the Nenana River that flows right behind the hotel.
But unfortunately it´s rain. The really good weather from yesterday has changed completely. Some of the mountains are totally covered by mist. We know that this can happen in Alaska, so we put on our rain clothes and try to make the best out of it.
The simple beige bus reminds us of a school bus and I don´t think that this one more comfortable or warmer. All seats are taken and some of our fellow travelers try out the included lunch box. We are happy that we took along something more to eat, as the contents are very simple.
The first miles on the Denali Park Road are open to the public and tarred. But after the ranger post only the shuttle- and tour busses are allowed on the now gravel road.
There are some camping grounds in the park where the shuttle busses stop and some more stops with a proper time table, where hiker can get in or off.
But both kinds of busses stop immediately when animals can be seen, so everybody on board may take pictures.
Our driver guide Lisa tells us right from the beginning that it is our job to look for animals, on a loud “stop” she would brake, she has to drive safely. Which sometimes is not as easy as it seems, the road sometimes is very narrow with no guard railing we are not driving at the bottom of the hills… so some of our fellow travelers get a bit white around the nose. Nevertheless she tells us some interesting pieces of her life, which she lived mostly here in Alaska.
Suddenly some busses in front of us come to a stop. Lisa is sure that there must be an animal to be seen. And she is right! Two big moose with their huge antlers stay in the bushes, quite good camouflaged but still visible. They seem not to be disturbed by the busses, they don´t stop eating.
I know that a moose might stand taller than nearly 7 feet, but for me they look even taller.
All tour bus drivers have got a camera with a strong zoom and so she can show us the animals on the board screens.That makes alot of sense when some animals, like these Dall Sheep are quite far away.
I am happy about my camera, which makes good photos from the animals.
At this point Lisa gives us some rules when you are out hiking in Alaska. I you meet a moose, try to retreat fast and quiet, because moose might attack people and often it ends fatal for the human when hit by the big antlers.
A bear encounter is different. Never try to run away or climb on a tree. A bear outruns you and is a much better climber. So try to make yourself big and talk to the bear in a deep voice. That could bring the bear to retreat, if the hiker hasn´t got something very good smelling in his backpack…
We head on. We enjoy a lot of nice views even the rain hasn´t stopped yet. Lisa tells us that it is much more likely to see more animals when it´s raining. They like to make a nice nap when the sun is out and it is warm and so we couldn’t spot them. We hope she is right.
Another bus stops abruptly. Another animal? Which one might it be this time? First we don’t see anything but then some caribous emerge from the bushes. They seem to be oblivious to us and never stop eating. In contrary to Moose the female Caribous also grow antlers, but not as big as the male ones. They are really handsome animals but much smaller than a Moose.
Lisa wants to go on. Many miles of gravel road are still ahead of us and she must drive very slowly.
Again a bus stops. Underneath us lies a wide river bed. A lot of rubble, just a bit of water and a bear are to be seen! It is a huge Brown Bear. Lisa lets us enjoy the sight for quite a while, but then we have to go on.
At the Polychrome Pass we get off the bus and savor the view into the valley. With my binoculars I can observe some grazing caribous.
Soon afterwards we get awarded for the rainy weather with the sight of another bear and an eagle.
Then we are really lucky. Right next to the road an blond Brown Bear devours blue berries that grow in masses here. He is not interested in all these tourist taking pictures of him. H crosses the street right in front of the bus. He seems to know that the berries on the other roadside must be bigger and sweeter.
This tour is worthwhile every cent, even I am shivering and hungry after 8 hours in this uncomfortable bus. We head on south for some miles to try out the “Creek Site Café”, which Lisa has recommended. And she is right. The food is absolutely delicious and that is the right completion of an eventful day in Denali NP.
Let´s see what the drive to Fairbanks will bring tomorrow.
Read more of my road trip through Alaska and Yukon in my next blog.
See you there!