Alaska is a great place to visit
In Denali National Park I climb aboard the park bus and get taken further into the park. Mt. Denali is a shy mountain and shows her head rarely. Over the past month, she has hidden herself for 25 out of the 31 days but today she exposes her lofty top.
Books I’ve read about Alaska tell of bears eating willow and I wonder where the trees are. The tundra is covered with short scrubby bush and plants and I’m amazed when I’m told that these 6-inch high shrubs are willows: stunted by the weather, the trees I was expecting did not exist.
I don’t walk far before I see a bear. I freeze. She has two cubs with her. I’m petrified, excited and amazed all at the same time and I sink to my knees to watch. Mum is large; her cubs are like bundles of lard, roly-poly and cuddly looking. She looks towards me, almost nonchalantly and I remain very still, hardly daring to breathe, while the cubs seem to have no worries. I discard my plans for hiking – I can walk any day and prefer to sit and watch. A herd of caribou runs over the hill, a perfect silhouette for a photo and the tiny plants and berries fascinate me. Mostly I just watch the bears.
Too soon it’s time to return to the main camp and, silently, I gloat over the people on the bus who didn’t see any wildlife: as I recount my tale over dinner, I realise I hadn’t rung my bell. The next day Denali is hidden, so content myself with crunching over yellow leaves and admiring the cottonwood trees with their straight white trunks, closer to park headquarters. see more photos here
Written after a month-long trip in Alaska some years ago!