Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dog Lake, Tuolumne Meadows

It was a surprisingly warm day in Tuolumne Meadows but this lovely spot was worth the warm hike.
My error, I had called this Blue Lake (another lake I had recently visited)  now corrected in the title.
You can find more watery scenes at Watery Wednesday, hosted by 2sweetnsaxy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saddlebag Lake--My World

Many years ago, when I was about 12, I saw a travel log about a place called Saddlebag Lake.  I was enchanted by its rugged beauty but I felt I was unlikely to ever see it in person.  Little did I know that someday it would be practically at my back door.
It is about 25 miles from our cabin by car, much closer if I had wings.  When our son Mark came to visit in early August he suggested that we cross the lake on the Water Taxi and hike around Twenty Lakes Basin.  I'm always ready for this trail though not quite as excited as this spaniel who was also going on the boat.  The sign said "no wet dogs allowed".  Well, you can't keep a spaniel out of the water but no one objected.
There are few glaciers remaining in the Sierra and Conness here in the distance is one of them.  It is rapidly being reduced to a snowfield.  We didn't hike to the lake below it this trip but the last time we were there it had the tell tail turquoise color of a glacier fed lake.  These boulders, called erratics,were left by the glacier 
long ago when it filled the basin.
What trees there are here are small, there's little shade to be found.
Here the granite reigns.
Lovely meadows flow with small streams and are strewn with wildflowers.
Sometimes the flowers cling to a bit of soil in the stream.
We stopped often to take pictures and enjoy the landscape.  Then we checked our watches and realized the time was short to make our appointed time for the return trip.  The last mile and a half were done with no stopping for pictures and this old lady pushed to her limit.  We made it, though.  I didn't want that extra mile walk to the far side of the lake.

Saddlebag Lake is a few miles off the Tioga Road just east of Yosemite National Park. 

Check out more parts of this wonderful world at
hosted for us each week by
Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Reflections on Alaska

Hubby Jules wanted to see Denali, and he did.  I'm not sure what I expected but in the end I would have to say the only experience that has come close to this was a trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon that I took over 20 years ago.
The peace and serenity we experienced in Kenai Fjords and Denali are very hard to find in today's world.  To see animals in their natural state, seemingly unaware of human presence was a thrill for this nature lover that is hard to match.
You can see more reflections at Weekend Reflections hosted by James at Newtown Area Photo.

Wildlife of Denali

It was time to leave Denali.  An early morning departure meant we might have some good wildlife viewing.
Denali was again wearing its white cloak.
The driver pointed out where he had seen a wolf eating its kill the previous day and there was the wolf, checking to see if anything had been left.  The carcass looked to have been picked clean.
Further down the road, this guy was along the road.  Was he licking his chops, expecting tourist for breakfast?
I didn't like the look in his eyes.
Down the road yet another wolf was hunting.  The driver said the black wolf was a member of a different pack.
Then we spotted this cow moose with her calf.
It was a challenge to get a good shot at such a distance.
Then we saw caribou.  It's amazing how they can hold up those antlers!
I think this one was scratching its chin.
A Dall sheep was just barely in view.  On the trip out of the park we saw four of the big five, only the grizzly eluded us.  As I have mentioned before, in this park the people are in cages (buses) and the animal roam free.  It makes it difficult to get great shots but I have never before been in a place that felt so wild, so real.
Then it was time to board this man-made critter.  After our six hour bus ride we still had a seven hour train ride.  Once in Anchorage we would grab a taxi to the airport for a 1:30 am plane home.  We had awoken at 5 am and would travel until 10:30 am the next day.
For more of the worlds critters, check out Camera Critters.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blue Sky Over Denali

Our last day at Denali.  Our fellow travelers had left early in the morning but we had arranged to spend an extra day.  We awoke to blue skies above but that did not guarantee that the Alaska range would be cloud free.  We were going to Wonder Lake for a hike up Blueberry Hill.  Soon we would know, would "The Mountain" show itself?
As we came up over the ridge, there it was, at 20,320 feet, Denali!  Well, maybe not all 20,320 feet, it was wearing a little cloud cap, but we were satisfied.
We got out of the van at Wonder Lake, enchanted by the clear blue sky ant the great white mountain in the distance.
I pulled out the telephoto for a closer look.
Too soon, the blue sky and magnificent peak were gone again.  Like Brigadoon, shrouded in mist.

See more skies from around the world at Skywatch Friday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Denali Tundra

I've been playing hooky, off to my mountain hide-a-way where I am off the grid.  I'll try to finish with the Alaska photos before I return to my hermit life.  It's amazing how long it is taking me to finish a one week trip!
Our scheduled full day at Denali was another gray day.  Since there was no chance of seeing "The Mountain", we elected to go on a Tundra walk.
This is an amazing ecosystem, very different from anything I see in California although it does remind me of bogs I have visited in Maine.  There is a great variety of low growing plants.  We saw a variety of fungi.

There were mosses and lichen which provide sustenance for the caribou in the winter.
The tundra has a springy feel when you walk on it, rather like walking on a mattress.
There is a great variety of berries, these low cranberries were not yet ripe but blueberries were abundant and we picked and ate them as we walked along.
The miniature dogwood I have seen in Washington  but not in California.
This shot may not look like much but I find it quite interesting.  This beaver pond has been drained and you can see a feature that you would not see if it was full of water.   Do you see the pile of sticks at the left side?  enlarge and you can see it better.  I have drawn a yellow line where the beaver had his entrance to the lodge.

You can see more images of our outdoor world at
OutdoorWednesday hosted by Susan at a Southern Daydreamer.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Into Denali--Outdoor Wednesday

This was the day we would go into Denali National Park.  We left the lodge in Talkeetna early so that we could arrive at the train station in Denali before the train.  No, we weren't going to take the train but that is where we would meet the bus into the park.  They came once a day to pick up their guest and timed their trips to coordinate with the train from Fairbanks.
With few exceptions, private cars are not allowed inside the park.  There are three types of transportation, all on converted school buses.  There are tour buses and shuttle buses operated under contract with the Park Service and there are lodge buses, operated by the three lodges located at the end of the road deep inside the park.  We would take one of the lodge buses.
Since it is a seven hour journey there were several stops along the way for restrooms and for the snacks that the driver had along.  There were also stops for scenery and wildlife viewing.  And there were rules.  No one was allowed out of the bus when wildlife was in sight, you could open the window to take pictures but no part of the body was to be outside.
It was another drippy, overcast day.  I was confident, though, that the skies would clear before we left.
At the Eielson visitor center we saw this incredible piece of artwork
A four panel fiber art creation that was hand dyed, painted, embroidered and quilted.
I couldn't get it all in one shot.  It is magnificent!
The classic shot of Denali (Mt. McKinley) is looking south from wonder lake.  The driver stopped so we could get a picture.  See it?  Neither did we.
We reached our destination, the Kantishna Road House.  I couldn't believe that we had been on the bus seven hours.  Even with the clouds I found the scenery breathtaking and the trip went fast.
It is 91 miles from the depot to the Roadhouse, all but 15 are dirt road.  Passengers on the shuttle buses may get off and go hiking and re-board another bus if there is space.  Areas where wolves or bears have been sighted are off limits to hikers.
Find other view of the outdoors at Outdoor Wednesday, hosted by Susan at a Southern Daydreamer.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Talkeetna Alaska

Our little group had a small bus to ourselves, six travelers, our guide and driver.  We rode to Talkeetna to spend the night before heading to Denali the next morning.

Talkeetna Alaska is a tourist town with friendly locals and a lot of character.
Lots of old buildings, places to eat and gift shops.  Some of our fellow travelers went flight seeing, we elected to explore the town.  It didn't take long!
We saw what to do with an old dog sled, make a planter.
No guns?, I don't recall ever having seen a sign quite like this before.
After walking the whole two blocks that is Talkeetna, we walked over to the river.  They said there was a mountain out there somewhere but we didn't see it.
Later, at 11pm, from our lodge window there it was, Denali peeking above the clouds.
See more views of the world at My World Tuesday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia.