Monday, 23 May 2016

Alaskan Journal Part 6

Our trip north to the Denali National Park and Preserve was a long one: around 450 miles and 9.5 hours on the road. I'd forgotten two things about driving in North America: firstly, everywhere is further than you think and, secondly, the many speed limits make progress much slower than for a corresponding distance in the UK. Even the A303 is faster. Highlights of the route? The scenery, of course, and a brief stop in Middle Earth to be served a hamburger each by some very friendly hobbits (oops, I'm being very non-PC and shortist there but it was a bit like that). After all that journeying, our cabin was worth travelling for: small but perfectly formed and on the bank of a roaring creek, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. That will do very nicely, thank you.
About 50 miles south of Denali we started driving across vast areas of tundra populated by these stunted looking conifers - spruce and larch. These were growing above permafrost and these harsh conditions mean that they grow extremely slowly. The habitat also meant that they adopted this rather strange columnar shape which, given that their roots were permanently located in freezing water and very little soil, is not too surprising.
The view from our cabin balcony. That's Carlo Creek rushing past.
Our home from home on the right. I'd like to say that it was like the Tardis - open the door and the space was surprising. Sadly not, what you see is what we got. Compact, clean and adequate. With good Wi-Fi - hooray.
Just a larch tree but I liked it.
When we got to the National Park Centre car park, we were ushered along to a back entry. The reason? A female moose and her 3 day old calf had taken up residence in a clump of willows just by the main entrance. Apparently she was being less than friendly to passers-by.
A moose is a big animal - this one was standing about 6 foot high at her shoulder level. That size, and a calf to protect, are two good reasons to steer well clear.
Mother and calf.
Just look at the length of the legs on the small one. All the better to negotiate the terrain they live in.
The flowering cones of the White Spruce. The harsh conditions of the Park mean that there are only seven types of tree that grow here. Spruce (White and Black) and Larch are three of them.

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