A Denali hike

Shortly after arriving at Denali National Park and Preserve, my dad and I went for a hike along the moderate 1.5-mile Horseshoe Lake Trail

…to check out this fine beaver dam…

…and were only slightly perturbed by this sign:

Oh, who am I kidding. In my head I was practically expecting a moose or grizzly to poke out its head around every other corner until we saw National Park volunteers nonchalantly doing trail maintenance about half a mile in.

After the hike, I was secretly relieved when the trailhead popped back into view. Exhilarated too, though.

Like many folks, I’d long wanted to visit Denali and do the Alaska version of a safari, and luck worked with us: Spotted five (!) grizzlies, one of which appeared to be a lone sub-adult male lumbering across a sere hillside still pocked with snow. Dall sheep nurseries as well, plus a lynx being henpecked by magpies in the brush, a porcupine nestling into a black spruce branch for the night, a foraging moose cow, caribou crossing the road, and a golden eagle gliding over a ridge.

Then, on the Alaska Railroad from Denali to Anchorage, I saw an osprey take flight from its nest of sticks atop a telephone pole, snowy owls chilling on the underside of a highway overpass, a trumpeter swan nesting in a boggy pond, several moose cows and their calves foraging in brush on river islands, plus fiddlehead ferns galore and the base of Mt. McKinley sparkling in the sun as we left the whistle-stop at Talkeetna. Admittedly I watched all this with the glee of an awed little kid, but it’s all good. It was like being plunked into a nature show.

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