Saturday, 21 August 2010 – stayed in Denali – 3.1 miles
I purposely selected a tent site near the road. I knew some campers would be up early to break camp and ride down this very road fairly early in the morning. Since I had no alarm, I figured those early-risers would be my wake-up call. And I had a 9am reservation for the bus up to Eielson Visitor Center. (Private vehicles are not allowed this far into the park.)
The bus ride was long and the driver was entertaining. He’d been driving in the park for 22 years and seemed to know everything. Plus, he had a good sense of humor. He stopped for every wildlife sighting so we could all get photos of “the big 5,”
Rounding out the big 5 are wolves. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any of them.
Of course, the main reason we all were there was to see Mt. McKinley, Denali, the High One. Unfortunately it never did come out from behing the clouds completely. Here’s two pics where you can barely see the north summit peeking out. There are clouds above and below and the peak is snow-capped so it’s very hard to see.
The Eielson Visitor Center is fascinating. They have many of the works of the past “Artist-in-Residence.” Each residency takes place during a ten day period between June and September. Denali National Park and Preserve provides the use of the historic East Fork Cabin (also known as the Murie Cabin) at Mile 43 on the Park Road. The artist is responsible for their own food and transportation. No stipend is provided. In exchange for the use of the cabin, each artist is expected to donate one art piece to the park and offer at least one public presentation. (For example, a slide lecture, demonstration, or workshop.) These artists come to the park and leave at least one piece with the center. (I looked into it - can you tell. It's really got me thinking . . .)
One of my favorites was a 4-section quilt. It is hand-dyed, dye-painted, stamped, resisted, silk-screened and stenciled. It is machine pieced and quilted. And it's huge! Congratulations to the artist, Ree Nancarrow, for a job very well done!
My other favorite is also textile art. The scale is smaller but it is nothing short of spectacular. It looks like a painting but it's appliqué and trapunto. I'm sorry I forgot to note the artist name.
There was one other piece that I found captivating. It looked like an art piece located outside the visitor center. It is the intertwined antlers of two bull moose. The plaque “Locked for All Time” reads, in part:
"In 2003 near Moose Creek, two massive bull moose clashed in an effort to establish dominance and earn the right to mate. Heads down, they forced their antlers together and engaged their considerable heft to earn surrender from the other. At some point in the battle, their antlers locked. One tine pierced the eye socket of the other. And so they remained on the tundra until death called for both." Yowza - that must have been some fight!
I spent so long at the center and on the nature trails that I took a later bus back to Denali Visitor Center. We saw more caribou, moose and sheep but I was more taken with the rivers and streams and the changing colors on the hillsides.
As I walked backed to my campsite, I saw something I haven’t seen in a long time – a moonrise. Nice.