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". . . in every walk with Nature, one receives far more than he seeks." 
~ John Muir, conservationist

So much for our grand plans for today, as described at the end of the last entry. We still had a good day exploring Denali, just closer to "home" than we'd originally intended.

I was going to catch a shuttle bus to the Eielson Visitor Center so I could hike up the alpine trail to the ridge, wander around the tundra, and then possibly walk down to the river and wander around there. Jim planned to catch a bus to Eielson or the Polychrome Overlook and ride his bike back on the park road to our campground at Teklanika River.

Didn't happen. We aren't 35 any more.

Above and below:  the terrain behind our campsite, where it's nice to walk Cody


Porcupine hiding behind tree

I was more wiped out from yesterdayís trip than I expected. When I got up at 6 AM it was overcast and 40 F. I was tired enough to go back to bed for another two hours, although I didn't sleep well.  When I got up again at 8 it was mostly sunny.

Even if it had been sunny at 6 AM Iím not sure I would have gone out on an early bus to Eielson. I needed more of a rest day today. There are lots of later buses that go out there and beyond but I know the likelihood of cloud cover increases during the afternoon.

Nice and sunny at our campground for a while in the morning

If I go out tomorrow, I need to leave early. Thatís my last chance for a shuttle bus ride with the Tek Pass. 

Jim didnít get up until after 8:30 AM and eventually decided not to ride the bus to Eielson or Polychrome, either.

We modified our plans so we didn't feel like we "wasted" a day at Denali.


In the morning we both hiked north from our campsite along the nearby Teklanika River.


Before long we had to detour over a ridge, where we got even more expansive views than down along the riverbed: 


Jim looks at the river from the top of the cliff.

Nice view south

Nice view north

We tried to get to the other side of the ridge by walking through some dense brush/trees on narrow animal trails Ė or none. The mossy ground was very soft and we sunk several inches with each footfall. That was cool! I had trekking poles and had an easier time walking through that terrain than Jim.

We found lots of blueberries and spent time picking/eating them:


I love little arrangements of alpine plants like this.

We turned around after about 3/4 mile and went back approximately the same way.

We werenít down on the gravel bar next to the water channels much. Itís easier to hike through the rocks and river braids going south from the campground -- like I did two days ago -- than going north. 

In the afternoon and evening I took Cody on two walks in the woods and through the campground. After supper Jim and I walked over to the amphitheater. I had a total of about 3Ĺ miles walking today, Jim a little less. 


After lunch we went on a bike ride together. Jim did about 8Ĺ miles and I went 7Ĺ. We rode through the campground to warm up, then east on the park road for 3+ miles. There was only about a 100-foot elevation loss/gain.

Outbound we had some pretty blue sky to the east and north:



The Teklanika River flows beneath the ridges in the next photo. We could see some ponds like these close to the road, but not the river:

We rode for 25 minutes on the road before seeing any traffic. There were six buses on our way back and three park vehicles.

The road is wide enough to Teklanika that we didnít have to pull over. Beyond that cyclists are supposed to stop when they see a bus and buses are supposed to go only 10 MPH past cyclists, hikers, or other vehicles. The road was very dusty in some places yesterday when we went out to Wonder Lake. We didnít have any problems with that today while riding. 

When we turned around and went back west toward the campground the sky in that direction was mostly cloudy. We didnít see any sun after about 3 PM. We felt some rain drops off and on while riding and later when Jim was outside reading.

We paused above some of the wet areas to see if there were any moose.  Nope.  The odds weren't
real high since it was in the early afternoon and they were more likely sleeping than eating.

Some sub-alpine and alpine plants are already turning gold and red -- and it's only early August.


A pond near our campground


We attended the 7:30 PM ranger talk at the Teklanika River campground amphitheater. As at the Riley Creek Campground near the entrance, every evening at Tek there is a ranger talk.

This presentation was the most interesting to me of the three talks Iíve attended so far at Denali. The young female ranger was very personable, spoke articulately and comfortably, and generated a lot of audience participation:

The topic was winter animal adaptations in the park. The animals we see in the summer months either migrate, hibernate, or tolerate the harsh winter conditions. The speaker focused on the ones that remain here and adapt to the frigid temperatures, deep snow, wind, and limited food supply. It gave us even more more respect for these tough critters.

Before going to bed Jim and I made sure we have everything as ready as possible for our individual treks tomorrow. This time we are more determined to go on the adventures I described earlier. We're rested and the weather forecast looks better than today's.

Next entryDay 7 at Denali -- Sue's Eielson alpine hike and shuttle bus ride plus Jim's bike ride along the park road between the Teklanika River and Sable Pass (includes more photos of Denali, bears, caribou, and Dall sheep)

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil