Denali AKA Mt. McKinley


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Continued from the previous page.


After the trail gains most of its elevation through the rock formations and across the pass, it remains high through the tundra and ridges for more than a mile, with expansive views into the valleys to the east, west, and south:

It sorta goes thataway . . .



Looking back



I began a gradual descent to the south, then east, about two miles from the other end of the trail.

Most of the trail surface in this part was relatively smooth, with one section of rocks after the "landing" marked with an arrow in the next photo:


Looking back 



Looking back again

Since the trail descends more gradually on the east side I was in low shrubs, then aspens and conifers, longer than at the beginning of the trail. There were also a lot of fireweeds, monks head, and other wildflowers in bloom on this side:



The trail switchbacks down to the creek from here and follows the drainage to the park road.






I'll have another entry with lots of wildflower photos at the end of this Denali series.


When I got down to the road I turned west and walked on nice, wide trails to restrooms near the Savage Cabin, where rangers stay during the winter. I marked my route on the map below:


There is an interpretive loop trail that includes the cabin. Tour buses often take people there but I hadn't been back to the cabin before.

No one was there and the cabin was locked so I couldn't go inside:

I continued around the short interpretive loop to the road and walked west about two miles to the river and our truck. 

One of the free Savage River shuttle buses stopped to ask if I wanted a ride. I thanked the driver and said I wanted to walk so I could see more. I was hoping to see one or more grizzly bears or caribou down in the riverbed where I saw them three years ago but that didn't happen today.


The alpine trail that I just hiked is up there in that cirque . . .

Rain to the SW, well beyond the Savage River valley

Phooey -- no grizzlies or caribou in the riverbed when I went by today.

I enjoyed the walk along the roadway and it's probably a good thing I didn't accept the ride because about half a mile from the truck Jim rode toward me on his bike!

He stopped and we talked. He was pretty worn down by the wind but wanted to keep going some more.

When he rounded a curve up ahead he got blasted by the wind so badly that he turned around. He beat me back to the truck and rode home with me.

I hiked a total of seven miles on this loop. The distance with the road walk is about 6.5 miles if you park on the near side of the Savage River. Elevations ranged from 2,624-4,150 feet. The GPS said I had a total gain and loss of 5,070 feet.   


Up in the tundra I saw a pair of friendly arctic ground squirrels that looked very young. They were begging for food, totally unafraid of me:

I'm so cute! How could you resist me?

No, I didn't feed them. I never feed wild animals but it's obvious some other hikers have.

The only other critters, besides birds, that I saw were two large bull caribou grazing above the east side of the Savage River at the beginning of my hike. They were perhaps 150 feet from me as I ascended the trail past the first large rock outcrop:


When I got done hiking 4+ hours later, a couple I was talking to on the bridge across the river asked if I'd seen the caribou and pointed to them. I couldn't believe they were still there!

As we drove back the park road to Riley Creek Campground Jim and I got to see our first Denali moose of this trip. Two buses were stopped in the road for several minutes so we knew they'd spotted a large animal of some sort.

We could see a female moose when we were able to move up into their spot but she was farther back in the trees by then so it was hard to get a clear picture:


We haven't seen any moose or bears in our campground yet but we have our fingers crossed . . .

Next entryhiking the loop trail along the Savage River 

Happy trails,

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

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil