I awoke to 39 degrees, and this is summer in Alaska. The park rangers are wearing winter coats. I am dressed for 50 degrees, wearing all the layers I brought with me. I had not anticipated the chill at 3,900 ft., nor the rain or cold. The forecast for today called for a 20% of rain. And, I lost my warm hat two days ago.
Today I boarded a shuttle school bus to bring me to the interior the park. All visitors must take buses if they wish to visit the interior and there are different prices based on distance. Interesting method to control people, pollution, congestion and protect wildlife. I took a bus that traveled 66 miles and saw all kinds of animals.
The roads in the park are closed during winter (October-May) and the only way to travel in, is with the dog sled team or snowshoe. It takes 10 weeks to melt the snow to open Denali. There is an average of 80 inches of snow a year.
On the bus ride we saw: a moose girl and boy, mama bear and cubs, grizzly bears, porcupine, fox, squirrels, herd of caribou, tarmangan (Alaskan state bird – resembles fat chicken but they have fur on their legs to keep them warm in -60 temperatures), and dall sheep.
Porcupines are fat, slow moving creatures. Their quills detach if something attacks them. Pretty good defense against predators. Caribou look like a cross between deer and moose, they are slim but with big antlers and a fuzzy white bottom. Girl moose do not have antlers and they are huge animals. Boy moose have antlers, which shed every fall. Grizzly bears are very cute from a far. Their fur is fluffy in the center but thicker and more coarse in other areas. (I was able to pet the fur display.)
I would have liked to hike a few interior trails today but some of them were closed because of the bear sightings. Here, in Denali National Park, bears win.