Continued from the previous page.
CONTOURING THROUGH THE TUNDRA
The rock "spine" ends about a mile into the hike.
The narrow, sometimes rocky, trail gradually climbs through open tundra
and arcs north and east as it contours along the broad slope of an
unnamed mountain and one of its ridges:
View SW to the rocks we
climbed through, the river, and the Alaska Range
There are some rocks on the trail but most of it is pretty smooth
through the tundra.
Looking back again
The trail descends south along a ridge to a rocky promontory, then turns
sharply east again across another slope:
That's about two miles into the loop,
going clockwise. The trail is smoother from here to the end, a distance
of about 2.6 more miles.
CONTINUING THE DESCENT TO THE ROAD
We took our time today (3:15 hours + rest stops for 4.6 miles).
Jim isn't trained as well for mountain hiking as I am. He's been focusing
on cycling and is much stronger on a bike than I am. I was glad to have
the time to take photos; I found plenty of interesting subjects!
We sat on a rock about a mile into the hike to eat our sandwiches. We
also sat on a grassy slope about halfway through the hike for about 15
minutes when it looked like Denali might show itself:
Alas, we never did see the north or south peaks,
just the lower slopes you can see below the arrow in the picture above.
Sure glad we've seen Denali a number of times on
previous trips to the park. Many visitors never get to see any of
the mountain because it's so often covered in clouds.
I was afraid the hike wouldn't be as interesting/scenic as it was in
July, when the fireweeds and other wildflowers were in bloom in the next
section of the trail. However, the red stems of the fireweeds were pretty
today against the snow-topped mountains where the trail begins to switchback
down the drainage it follows to the road:
The tundra hasn't turned as bright red as it'll be in another week but
we did see some yellow, orange, and red leaves close up and there's lots
of dull red in the long-distance views I've shown.
What made the scenery really pop today was the blue sky behind the fresh white
snow at about the 4,500' level (we got up to 4,100+ feet). The snowy mountains
on the north side of the park road really stood out.
Continuing down the mountain along the drainage . . . The photos
looking back (north) are better than those going forward because we were facing
the sun going down toward the road:
We saw about twenty other hikers going one way or the other, most of
them in this section.
man we talked with lives in Homer, Alaska in the summer -- and
the southern Ukraine in the winter! He's not even Russian. He said it's
warmer there than it sounds. That's an interesting twist on
Volunteers were working on these bog boards
when I walked through here in July.
The last half mile is down in the trees, with the creek close by:
I saw lots of interesting mushrooms in the forest in the last quarter
mile, including these:
These look like hot buttered dinner rolls fresh from the oven!
Above and below: These are the arrangements
as I found them. I don't try to "improve" upon Nature.
When we got down to the path that parallels the road near the Savage
River Campground we saw this sign warning hikers/campers about both
black and grizzly (brown) bears in the area:
Unfortunately, we didn't see any bears, moose, caribous, sheep, or other big
critters on this hike or along the road or riverbed today.
The only wildlife we saw were birds, friendly arctic ground squirrels, and
chubby pikas. Pikas are hard to photograph but the squirrels always seem
fearless and pose nicely to get their pictures taken -- hoping
for some food, of course:
Our total distance hiking was a little over 4.6 miles.
Today my GPS said the elevations ranged from a low of 2,426 feet at the
river trailhead to 4,105 feet at the highest point. The finish at the
truck was 2,782 feet. Total elevation gain = 1,720 feet, loss = 1,364
feet. (My GPS has a little different numbers every time I repeat a course.)
I was happy that Jim really enjoyed this hike. Because of the bum
knee he injured several years ago he is very choosy about what hikes he
does. This one was just the right distance and the scenery made his
effort worth it.
View from the park road to
Nenana Canyon on our way back to the campground
We got some additional exercise today to keep the pups happy and healthy
since they can't hike with us on park trails.
I did another couple miles walking them in the campground
throughout the day. Jim also rode Casey with the bike for 4.5
miles to Nenana Canyon and back, and let her swim in the pond by a motel
where he's taken her before. He throws mini Milk Bones in the water for
her to retrieve, an activity she likes as much as chasing tennis balls
Every day after our breakfast and supper she starts "talking" (whining!)
to Jim, wanting to go run and/or play ball. Cody can "tell time," too,
but his focus is on his second meal of the day. He's always lobbying for
his 3 PM meal by 1 PM, regardless of what time he eats breakfast.
Next entry: travel adjustments due to weather and
wildfire considerations (or maybe we're just "fickle")
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil