Alaska - Denali
Denali Kenai Fjords Eagle &
Potter Marsh
Kenai,
Talkeetna,
Garden
Scenic Hwy,
Anchorage,
Eklutna

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"Harry," our bus for 13 hour tour in Denali Park. The whole park is 6 million acres - larger than Massachusetts!!

Destination: Kantishna Roadhouse, 95 miles into the park

We had just begun the road trip, when we were stopped by this poor moose. She was limping, one of her legs or feet injured.

So sad to see - she was very thin and will probably not live through the coming winter. The Park has a "hands off" policy; i.e., let nature take its own course.

A display of part of the 600-mile-long Alaska Range at Eielson Visitor Center (mile 66 of trip). This display had lighted paths that mountain climbers use.

Only about 30% of visitors get to see any part of Mt. McKinley due to the mostly cloudy weather at those heights. We were of the lucky 5% that not only got to view the mountain, but got to see both peaks!!

South Peak: 20,320 feet high
North Peak: 19,470 feet

This young bear walked right in front of the bus and began muching along side.

Look at them thar' claws!! I guess it is a good thing we were not allowed to get off the bus.

"nah, nah, nah . . . you can't come out here!"

"Well, I'll mosey along now . . . go look for mama"

Another mama grisly with baby near her backside

Bull Moose

Caribou, aka Reindeer- both males and females grow antlers, and a new set each year! Caribou antlers is the fastest growing tissue in the animal world.
 

Antler development is 3-6 months out of phase between the sexes. For example, the male's antlers begin developing in March, grow rapidly from May to July, and are completely hardend and out of velvet by mid-September. Following the rut, antlers are shed in early November by older males, but may be kept until April by some of the younger ones. Female antlers develop from June to September and are out of velvet by late September. The females' antlers are retained throughout the winter. Pregnant females drop their antlers within days of calving. Barren cows shed their antlers before the spring." (Info from the Government of the Northwest Territories, Division of Natural Resources.)

These real caribou antlers are HEAVY! Caribou must have very strong necks and shoulders!!

Mel, posing as caribou

These are known as "Dall Dots" which means Dall Sheep too far away to photograph in detail. Dall sheep, named for American Naturalist William Dall, tend to be found on steep slopes with extremely rugged ground in the immediate vicinity, to allow escape from predators that cannot travel quickly through such terrain

This is what a Dall sheep looks like: display at
Denali Visitor Center

The Willow Ptarmigan is the Alaska State Bird.
In winter months the willow ptarmigan eats mosses and lichens, willow buds and twigs, a little birch; seeds and berries when available (internet source)

Arctic Ground Squirrel . . . sooo cute!
Too bad, it is prey to the Arctic Fox, wolverine, lynx, Grisly Bear, and eagles - run, squirrel, run!!
Let's see if I have this correct - these squirrels are non-arboreal, i.e., they don't climb trees like other squirrels; they forage for food in the tundra. This one is definitely fattening up for hibernation!!
Interesting trivia from wikipedia:
During hibernation (early September to late April), its brain and core temperature can drop to just above freezing and its heartbeat drops. Peripheral, colonic, and blood temperatures become subzero by means of supercooling. Body temperatures drop as low as −2.9 C (26.8 F) (average −3 C (27 F)), the lowest known naturally occurring core body temperature in mammals

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