22 June 2009

Wildflowers along Denali's Moose River

We arrived at the Kantishna Roadhouse shortly after 8:00 last evening. Ninety miles on a gravel road through five mountain passes in a rather utilitarian bus takes several hours -- even without safari stops. (Pictured here is part of our group boarding the bus in the parking lot near the Denali train depot and visitor center.) A delicious supper of salmon, fettuccine Alfredo, tossed salad and cheesecake was waiting for us. But, bed couldn't come quickly enough, especially with the sight of Denali's north peak happily in my mind.

The Kantishna Roadhouse staff offers a variety of activities each day, from leading hikes, easy to strenuous, to delivering short lectures on topics specific to Alaska and especially to Denali. Everyone in our group along with several other lodge guests participated in an easy four-mile walk/hike this morning through the Alpine (moist) tundra, paying close attention to the fast-emerging wildflowers -- amongst the faster emerging mosquitoes. (Note the head net, a very handy piece of equipment.)

The walk was led by our guide and a Roadhouse staff-member named Emily. Part of Emily's job was to give us instruction on conduct should we encounter various animals. Here she's demonstrating self-protection if a grizzly bear were to approach -- protect the head, neck and sides of the body with the arms and then roll into a ball on the ground to protect vital organs. We did NOT have to put that strategy to the test.

The wildflowers were plentiful and we identified lots of them, with Nancy's careful and clear instruction. Two of my favorites are below: Alpine arnica 'Arnica alpina' (yellow turned-down flower) and River beauty (aka Dwarf fireweed) 'Epilobium latifolium' (pink flower). I am particularly pleased that I managed to capture an insect in both images.

And, finally, here's a peaceful scene: Tal sitting in the tundra overlooking Moose River just before we headed back to the van and the roadhouse.

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