Sunday, August 5, 2012

Off-trail on our own, this time with sun!

Today we woke up to some nice weather for a change. Thinking we might actually get to see the mountain we pack up lunch and hop on the first bus that can hold us.

I think we only had to wait for the 2nd bus to find the 4 seats we needed.
One of the things we learned yesterday on our ranger hike was how grizzly bears like to dig up ground squirrels for tasty snacks.

The bus stops to watch a bear do just that!
He digs and digs just like a dog with dirt shooting out between his hind legs.

He swears he is down there... eventually after a bit more work he does get the poor little guy.
We had actually planned on possibly hiking to Geode Mountain but we stay on the bus all the way to Eielson hoping the Denali will make and appearance.

Sadly it doesn't. Because the park is so big and the buses control our movement we realize we can't get back to Geode with enough time to really hike it.

Instead we hike up where we hiked two days ago and go further on.
Do you recognize this place? Neither do we, 2 days ago it was covered with snow and we had no view.

This is where we hiked to last time and it was just a mile or so up to this peak, today we keep following the ridge up higher and higher.

I was a little panorama crazy today!  Hiking off trail is great we each find our own way higher and higher.

And with some decent weather we get all kinds of great views.

Eventually we stop to eat our lunch and relax a bit, we can basically see 360 degrees in all directions and you an see nothing but Wilderness!
 Ice cave in a little depression in the hill.
Will admiring the view.

We've really come up a lot more elevation, you can see how high! This area is called Thorofare Mountain and at the top we find the ranger radio repeater that allows the rangers to communicate across the giant park.

It was getting late and we needed to start heading home. The first way down seemed a little steep so we hiked over one more knob to see if it looked better. On the GPS it looked less steep.

These sheep were in the way!
It turned out not to look any better so we headed down the steep scree channel.

We had heard a girl talk about scree skiing but we thought she was kidding.
Here is the scree chute we skied down! It looked much worse than it was, actually it was very easy once you tried it.

And it was an easy way to drop a lot of altitude quickly. We didn't want to risk going all the way back the way we came and get home too late.

You can see Will in the panorama!
At the bottom of the scree was this nice bump, it gave a great view of the area between us and the road to check it for Grizzly Bears!

All the way down we did our best impressions of Ranger Monica calling out "Hey Bear" which tells the bear you a human are coming and gives them time to get out of your way.

Rainbow on the way down.. I saturated the picture a bit so you can see it better. That is the park road on the right.

We are almost down the knob too!

Will and the rainbow!

Will and Maureen are checking out a dug up squirrel hole surrounded by Grizzly Poop of various freshness. Some was very very fresh!

We made our way around a small willow forest avoiding a place we could be surprised by a bear.

We caught a bus just as we got to the road and it had enough seats!

What a fun day!

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