Sunday, October 11, 2009


My brother Tom sent this picture that he took in Omaha on Saturday. Thanks Tom, for reminding us why we moved to balmy Alaska!!!! Saturday in Palmer brought partly cloudy skies and a temperature of 54*. On Sunday it got up to 60* and lots of sunshine. Saturday afternoon we took our camper to Hatcher Pass (about 25 minutes from our house)and stayed overnight. We are currently watching the baseball playoff game in Colorado. B-r-r-r-r!!!


Armed with our bear spray, we hiked two miles up the Gold Mint trail. We met several hikers coming back down the trail as we headed up. When we returned, we were just one of two cars left in the parking lot. We passed several beaver lodges and beavers dams. We didn't actually see any beavers.


There are hundreds of little streams and waterfalls that feed into the Little Susitna River. It was running fast because the mountains had had LOTS of snow on them. We had Chinook winds on Friday night and Saturday that melted almost all of the snow on the peaks. Three days ago, the peaks you see in these pictures were completely covered with snow.



Little Susitna River --It was right below our camper. We could hear the river all night.


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When we got back from our hike we started a fire and
sat by the fire for a couple of hours.




This is the view we woke up to on Sunday morning.
Again, note the absence of snow on the mountains.






The river is down a steep hill behind our camper.




Sunday morning we walked up the road about 1/2 mile and looked back on our campsite. Our camper is the one on the right. The other camper pulled in about 11:00 PM Saturday night. The vehicle on the left came on Sunday morning. Three guys got their bikes off the trailer and headed up the trail on their bikes. The building on the left with the green rook is an outhouse. The trail starts right behind the outhouse. There is also a large sign with bear warnings and wanring about being prepared to go off hiking (having water, adequate clothing, etc.) We saw lots of moose tracks along the raod on Sunday morning.




View of our valley from the Hatcher Pass road.







When we arrived home, one of our resident eagles was in the tree. They sit in the tree three houses away from our house. Note the blue sky and complete lack of snow (or termination dust as they say here in Alaska.)




Sunday, May 10, 2009

4-wheeling for Mother's Day - May 9, 2009

What a Mother's Day trip!  This is the Knik Glacier, which you can see from our house in the winter (when there are no leaves on our trees).  You can see it from our highways and roads year round.  It took us about 6 hours for the whole trip.  Our friend, Jimmy has been making this trip for many years.  He said that this was only the second time that he has actually been to the ice at the terminus of the glacier.  Normally there is too much water to get this close.  (see the video below of how fast the water is running).  As you might guess, the water is COLD.  It has icicles floating in it.  It was another gorgeous day, and the scenery was once again breathtaking.

Approaching the terminus of the Knik Glacier on four-wheelers.









AT THE TERMINUS OF THE GLACIER
This is where we had lunch.




The water didn't look deep, but it was!





Looking back down on the glacier after lunch.






This group is now sitting where we had lunch.



TRAFFIC JAM on the way to the glacier.









GLACIER MELT
Note how fast this water runs.  It is only from the melting glacier.  It is full of glacial silt, giving it a very gray opaque appearance.  Without the silt in the water, it would be crystal clear.   But there is so much silt, that you cannot see through the water to judge how deep the water actually is.  It was running fast enough to knock a person off their feet.

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I've posted these videos so you can come Fourwheeling with us!

THROUGH THE WATER

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THROUGH THE MUD

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OVER THE HILL


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RUNS ACROSS THE FLATS


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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Denali Trip - May 3, 2009

We drove the Parks highway to Denali National Park.  During the normal tourist season, access to the road through the park is very limited.  The majority of the people touring the park must ride on tour buses, which are old school buses.  They hold a lottery for the opportunity to drive your won car through the park.  Only a certain number of private vehicles are allowed in the park each day.  This is so that there is a little as possible to disturb the natural habitat and habits of the animals and also to preserve the beauty of the land.  During the pre-season private vehicles are allowed up to Mile 30.  The road is open for about 90 miles during the summer season.  

The day was a rare one in terms of visibility of the mountains and Denali itself.  In three weeks of driving toward Denali on my way to school, I have only seen it once.  It is generally either hazy or the snow is blowing on Denali and you can't see it or the rest of the Alaska Range.  It usually clears up a bit by afternoon and I can see it in my rearview mirror on the way home.

This day the whole Alaska Range was visible from a long way off.  We could see Denali from the south as we approached it, as we drove around the east side of it on the highway and again from the back side when we were in the park.  by the time we got in the park, it was beginning to cloud up over Denali, but we got a quick look at it.




Photos taken from Willow, at Mile 68 of the Parks highway
 (approximately 100 miles from the mountains you see here).







CHENA RIVER AND VIEW OF ALASKA RANGE AT DENALI VIEWPOINT SOUTH 
(PARKS HIGHWAY MILE 135)
Notice all the twist and turns in the river.  The water carries glacier silt with it until it builds up and the water can carry it no more.  So the water leaves the silt and picks a different path.  The process repeats itself over and over, which makes many twists and bends in the rivers.  We are experiencing a lot of flooding in the interior regions of Alaska because of the ice jams on these types of rivers.  Although you can still see some ice on this river, there is not much ice left and the river is flowing freely.  You can read more about the flooding in the Interior at this site:


Click on the link that say "pictures of flooding" to see some pretty tremendous pictures of the ice damage.  Some of the chunks of ice from the rivers destroyed home when the flood waters carried them into the houses.
And, believe it or not, the fire danger in other parts of the state (including our area) is extremely high.  We have entered the wildfire season and have some major wildfires going on already.


Meanwhile, back at Denali and the Alaska Range.  You can see the largest glacier, Ruth Glacier, just to the left of center.  It appears as a large snowy area toward the bottom of the mountains, just about the trees.  We are still about 50 miles from these mountains.













Glacier coming down between the mountains.  The Ruth Glacier is 31 miles long.   It is over a mile wide and 1/2 mile deep.  It travels through the Great Gorge, which is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Alaska.  Ruth Glacier has 5,000 feet peaks on both sides of the glacier.






Doug and Colleen with Denali between us in the background.



Denali (AKA Mt. McKinley) is over Doug's right shoulder.



Backside (north side) of Alaska Range, taken from our picnic spot in Denali National Park.



Backside (north side of Denali) from our picnic spot in Denali National Park.





NORTH SIDE OF THE TALKEETNA MOUNTAINS 
Note how the Talkeetnas are not as sharp or towering as the Alaska Range is.  This picture is taken from Broad Pass, which is the pass between the two ranges.





WILLOW PTARMIGAN 

Taken in Denali National Park.  They still have their winter colors on, making it hard to spot in the snow.  I did not get a picture of the first pair we saw (we saw a total of six pair that day).  We had stopped for lunch and we sitting in the car enjoying the view of the mountains.  It was too chilly yet to picnic outside.  A couple in the parking lot took their two dogs out for a walk in the brush and flushed a pair of ptarmigans right at our car.  I thought they were going to fly in my window before they quickly veered up and over the car.  They landed in the brush not too far from our car.  The willow ptarmigan is the state bird of Alaska.
















CARIBOU 

Some of these were taken in Denali National Park.  Some were taken on the highway near Cantwell.  The large group crossed the road right in front our our car while we stopped to watch.   The two crossed on the highway, again right in front of our stopped car.


















CARIBOU VIDEOS



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Friday, May 8, 2009

Baby Musk Ox - May, 2009


We got a call a couple of weeks ago.  The first baby musk ox have been born.  A couple of them were taken from their mothers and are being hand raised.  Here are pictures of one of them in the field with his mother.











This is Tsunami.  She is being bottle raised.  She is about 8 months old in these pictures.  Obviously, she doesn't understand what a fence is yet.  Musk ox are related to the goat family, so she bleats like a lamb.  She did not want to be left alone and was content if she was just near someone.












We were a distance away and Tusnami was bleating.  I came back toward her pen and she stopped.  She kept trying to get near me, but didn't understand what was stopping her (the fence).



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She was still trying to learn how to drink from the bottle, and I was trying to learn how to hold it just right!

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