Denali National Park, Day 4
Denali National Park, morning
The next morning, the clear sky was gone and was replaced by clouds and snow. The thermostat read zero degrees at one point, so most of our visit was from the car. We stopped by the kennel to see the park’s sled dogs.
When we heard the word “kennel” we were expecting lines and lines of cages, possibly indoors. When we got there, we saw individual dog houses and the sled dogs sitting on top of them, howling at us. Hilarious sight.
We paid a visit to each one, doing the touch training where we said hello to the quiet ones, and walked past the loud ones.
At one point, as I was petting a mellow dog, the most rowdy of the group got insulted that I had my back to him. Frustrated that I continued to ignore him, he went on a howling rampage. The others decided to join in, and suddenly I was surrounded by howling dogs. “What did you do??” Andreal asked me.
The rest of the drive through Denali was pretty uneventful. The “high moose zone” was devoid of life, and there was nothing to see due to the snow fall and the winter landscape of the park. We decided to try our luck at dusk with the animals, so we headed back to the hotel. At this point, having driven 8 hours up there and having one day left in Alaska, I was pretty discouraged about our decision to come up there. It was cold, it was far, the park was dead, and the neighboring towns were deserted. Did we drive all the way up here for nothing?
Seeing how there was absolutely nothing open in the area, we spent the afternoon in the hotel room watching TV and napping. As it neared time to leave, I started to push the others to get ready to leave. Andreal insisted on eating dinner first, and I relented, although I was worried about missing the animals. It turns out this half hour delay was the best idea ever.
Denali National Park, evening
As we drove out towards the park, it became apparent why inviting Alenka along for our trip was an excellent decision. I was driving along the highway when Alenka yelled out, “STOP!!” She had seen, on the other side of the highway, up in the mountains, Dall Sheep! These things were nothing but tiny white fuzzballs, but she had seen them! Of course, as with the fuzzy white mountain goats, I was very happy to see the fuzzy white dall sheep.
When we got into the park, we saw… nothing. We did see a boring, typical bird on the side of the road. I drove by, hoping it would move out of the way of the car, and, sure enough, it flew off. But then, Alenka yelled out, “Stop! I saw something move! Is that possible?” I backed up the car, and hidden in the bushes on the side of the road, was a Lynx!
We suppose we spoiled its dinner. We sat in the car taking pictures of it, while it stared back at us. I did have a slight worry that it could easily run towards us and jump in the open window before Andreal could pull it up. It didn’t, and our half hour dinner delay got us a Lynx Sighting.
We drove off and as we entered the High Moose Zone, we saw a car stopped ahead. They must see something! Sure enough, seconds later, a moose stepped out into the road right by the car. Andreal and Alenka flipped out. They started yelling at me to get closer to it (we were about 75 yards away), but I didn’t want to go charging towards it, especially with another car right next to it. Andreal started reaching over towards the wheel in an effort to make the car magically move faster.
Once the moose got out of sight we drove off to find more, until we decided to head back and see why that other car was staying put. Turned out, they had a set of binoculars and told us that there were three more coming alone that route, including a male one.
The next 15 minutes were spent parked in the middle of the road watching the moose come by. Other cars stopped, and soon it was a quiet, camera stalking crew hanging out in the road.
At the end, it was getting difficult to see since it was very overcast and well past sunset. The last female crossed the road and we headed home.