So on our final day in Denali NP for 2014, what did we wake up to? You guessed it … another bluebird day. :-) After a restful morning (the only one on our entire trip – LOL), we set out to “troll” again for wildlife and try our luck at Savage River. As you can see the fall colors were already beginning to pass, though still evident and colorful, their vibrant peak of explosive color was already a thing of the past.
Savage River is a wonderful place for taking a leisurely hike around the Savage Loop Trail along the river, as it meanders its way. The cold fresh air, the sounds of the water rushing by and the birds calling out overhead, and those clear beautiful skies made for the perfect day to end with in our week long stay at Denali.
It’s just so picturesque. Knowing that this would be more of a landscape walk-about, I carried my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens mounted on my D800 camera body. Tom outfitted himself with his 70-200mm f/2.8 lens onto his D7000 … just in case we encountered wildlife. See, in years past, we’ve gotten amazing shots of the marmot sunning themselves on the rocks along the trail. So, we were really scouting hard to find some. Unfortunately, we never did find any and admittedly, I felt a bit dejected. :-( But I reminded myself that we had an amazing stay in Denali already and certainly in Alaska as well.
At some point, I saw a photographer shooting something on the hillside. Of course, I had to know what it was. Armed with a pair of binoculars, Tom was still unable to ascertain what it was. Perhaps he was just shooting the landscape, but he had a longer lens. Curiosity got the best of me and I inquired with another person who had spotted him as well. To my surprise, he said that there was … wait for it … a LYNX! I surge of excitement ran through my body as I set off uphill with my … wait for it … 24-70mm lens. Sweet! Quickly I realized that I had like… no chance … so I commandeered Tom’s 70-200mm and pursued that lynx. :-)
OK, now I’ll admit that this are not the stellar shots that I was hoping for, but I’ll take them!
This lynx was intent on observing something … perhaps even more intent than we were on observing the lynx. LOL We photographed it for quite some time … just 3 of us … and I was thrilled beyond belief.
Finally, the lynx got up and began to retreat from us, but not before giving us that “vogue” look. It reminded me of the first lynx that I ever tried to photograph … only that time I missed for 2 reasons: 1. Our shuttle windows were frozen shut and therefore we couldn’t get the windows down. 2. Once our windows finally were successfully lowered and the lynx gave me that same “vogue” look over the shoulder, I clicked and my shutter, only to realize that I had the shutter speed set to “bulb” from trying to photograph the aurora the night before. Ugh … don’t you just hate when you’re not prepared?
I vowed to never make that mistake again … you know, heading out without a wildlife lens … just in case! After encountering and photographing this lynx though, I felt on top of the world again. See, the lynx was seldom seen in Denali in 2014, since the snowshoe hare have declined in numbers lately, as they run in 7 year cycles in their plentiful numbers – just as the lynx do. Nature at work again.
So short of the marmot, our wildlife sightings this year were amazing and plentiful. As we headed to return to the RV, we’re once again treated to this expansive sight.
The colors have finally arrived towards the lower elevations of the park … aka the first few miles within the park boundaries.
Before we leave Denali NP, we opt to take one last hike in the Riley Creek area. The trees are showing off beautifully against the skies covered in patchy clouds.
No trip to Alaska, or just about anywhere away from home, is ever complete without our trademark cairn building and an image of our creation. Built out of river rocks along the Riley Creek waters, Tom and build our cairn … one rock at a time … each representing a year that we’ve been together … united by our love for each other and for nature and the outdoors. 17 rocks in all … & counting <3
© 2014 TNWA Photography