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Saturday, 01 September 2018

The Road to Kantishna: An Alaskan Grand Slam - Page 2

Written by Jim Chamberlain
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Near the Toklat river at mile 53 a mother Grizzly Bear and a lone cub were seen foraging along the gravel flats probably looking for berries which were beginning to appear. Their golden fur reflected the sunlight and made the bears appear to glow. There were a good half mile away but my 600mm lens allowed for a decent shot. Another lone male was seen a few miles further on. That made four out of five sightings of the Alaskan Grand Slam. I still needed to see a Moose. Hopefully a big bull with a giant rack of horns.

The Eielson Visitor Center at mile 63 provided a welcome break from the past 4 hours in the bus. The weather had changed quickly and now the sky was full of clouds and a chill wind began to blow across the glacial valley. As I wandered the viewpoints I saw a giant set of Caribou horns. These really display just how majestic those animals could be.

The road had been descending since Sable Mountain at 6000 feet. We could see a dirt covered river of ice called the Muldrow Glacier across the valley at the base of Denali which was now covered in clouds. As the bus neared Wonder Lake, I got number five. A Bull Moose was feeding near a small lake. We stopped, as the bus would do at all wildlife sightings, and the driver allowed me to sit on the steps of the doorway to have an unobstructed view of this giant of the deer family.

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The picturesque Wonder Lake was not so today so we continued on. At mile 92 we reached the end of the road, Kantishna. The old gold mining town was now a remote wilderness lodge only open a few months of the year. Nearby the old mine recorder's cabin as well the original Roadhouse built in 1919 still stand. The Roadhouse one of the few two story buildings in Alaska at the time. Who would expect to find such a structure so far from anywhere.

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After a hearty lunch and a historical tour of the grounds, I felt very satisfied as we departed for the long drive back the way we had come. A few more Caribou, a fox, and another moose highlighted the trip back.

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This was Denali National Park, a must see location for anyone who loves to see wildlife and wild places.

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©Jim Chamberlain

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Last modified on Saturday, 01 September 2018

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