Monday, August 30, 2010

Wonder Lake

(When I first saw this, I thought it was Denali, Mt. McKinley, but it's actually a smaller peak in the range, but I am unsure which. Still I was pretty thrilled to see it. Denali was still quite hidden.)

Well, I've come to the conclusion that I will never catch up on posting. So, I'm going to try to get through Alaska and then just condense everything from the past...year? and put it into one gigantopost. I've got a lot going on right now that I'd like to keep track of and it seems the only way to do it is to give up on catching up with past posts.

So, here's an eagle.

This is a Golden Eagle, which is actually the largest breed. This particular bird followed us around a good
bit. He swooped, soared, and was generally majestic.

The surrounding scenery was stunning. (Still at Eielson.)

These antlers-bull moose-were found locked together like this. Or, in other words, these guys literally fought to the death. One of the horns had actually pierced the eye socket of the opposite's skull, which of course, would have been tremendously unpleasant for that particular moose. In the end, they starved to death. It's a bit sad, but well, that's nature. She's not always butterflies and rainbows you know. They're displayed at The Eielson Visitor Center.

As are the pelts from many of the creatures that inhabit the park. These all died of natural causes.

There is an artist in residence program at Denali. I found this tremendously cool. The above picture is a quilt piece made by one of the artists. I think it was my favorite simply because it was both simple and extremely complex. I wouldn't mind having that position.

Anyway, on we go to Wonder Lake.

We were headed out to Wonder Lake to camp for the night. Even though the smoke from the fires was heavy and obscuring the mountain ranges, the scenery was still beautiful. The lake itself was surrounded by lush foliage, berry bushes, and was just calm and lovely.

(I love lake stones.)

After wandering around for a while, exploring the lake, the land, the bathhouses, and various campsites, we pitched our tents. Actually, we might have done that first, but I don't remember, though, we probably did so that we could dump our stuff inside. FYI, you are not allowed to have any food or water at your campsite...or deodorant, toothpaste, or any other 'human smelling' object. After use, all of these things have to be sealed in the bear locker...because the last thing anyone wants is a Grizzly nosing them in the middle of the night trying to get at their stick of Secret. (Strong enough for a man but made for a woman...or a hungry bear.)

Now, I'm going to relay a little story about my good good. friend. David. While we were out walking, we were having a conversation about some of life's issues, spirituality, walking with God, striking out on your own, and how unpleasant getting eaten by a bear must be. Well, we're traipsing along and all of a sudden there is a rustle in the bushes. All of a sudden, a girlish shriek fills the air and I find myself being unceremoniously being shoved forward towards whatever the sound is. Dave, is now located behind me (cowering...and shoving.) I look down and see this:

(Not a bear.)

The following conversation takes place:

"David, what...are you doing?"

"I, ah, haha, I thought it was a bear."

"It was just a squ- thought what? You were going to shove me INTO A BEAR!?"


"Uh...well...don't tell anyone."

*Incredulous look.
"I'm telling EVERYONE!"

Suffice to say, I no longer trust David when it comes to survival.

(Does not want to be eaten by a bear.)

After a fine dinner of peanut butter on white bread, some apples, and a candy bar, we turned in for the night. The ground was hard and stony, even with the sleeping bag, but at least it was cold and bright all night.

("Sunset" in Alaska, in July...should not be mistaken for a literal event.)

Still, it was just the fact that we were where we were, that made putting up with the discomfort worth it.
The next morning was going to be our last chance to see Denali, which was one of my life imagine how I felt when I woke up to this:

The smoke from the fires was horrendous. Where it had been hazy the day before, it was nearly like a blanket now. However, I had faith that I was going to see this mountain...and I don't mean through a sky like grey pea soup! Honestly, I prayed, long and hard that God was going to let me see it, and I actually had complete confidence after that, that He would. Denali is visible 20% of the time. When we arrived at Eielson, a strange wind began to blow...