Sunday, August 26, 2012

‘Feeling’ The Tundra

Monday August 6th – We signed up to go on a ranger-led Discovery Hike. We caught the tour bus just outside of our campground (it was good not to have to drive all the way back up to the front of the park) at 8:30 am. We were joining a group of  4 other people and the ranger and going for a walk on the tundra.

The bus ride was about 2 hours to the Toklat area, but we enjoyed the opportunity to get to see a few more of Denali’s creatures and some amazing landscapes. It is interesting how after a ride or two into the park, you can feel ‘familiar’ with the area and it all kind-of makes sense.


When we got out onto the tundra – the area of permafrost that is above the tree line- We stood to take it all in. Both in the amazing openness…….


And in the ground under our feet. To experience the tundra, you have to feel it…..The ground is soft underfoot and spongy to walk on….


The tundra is made up of an interwoven carpet of plants and algae……


Some plants…soft as feathers…..


Others, like this finger algae, rather strange looking.




And mushrooms……everything close to the ground….adapted for survival in the brutal winters.


Miniature willows……

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Pink star flowers….


And bluebells…..Blooming in the Summer, but will die back and be hidden under the snow in the winter.


But Fall is coming. You can see it in the hints of red here and there. In a few short weeks, the tundra will be brilliant in the golds and reds of Fall.

Denali is mostly trail less. To hike, you just pick a course and walk. This is not difficult to do in the open tundra. Following our guide, we hiked up a hill for a better view point……


And sat and had some lunch. What an incredible experience!

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