Wednesday, June 25, 2014

DENALI NATIONAL PARK

My wife and I recently returned from an Alaska land tour and cruise.  We had a great time.  I, of course, had my camera and took plenty of photos, perhaps 1,200 in all, retaining about 250 of them.  I thought I would show some of those images on this blog over a series of posts.

Our trip began in Fairbanks, and we spent the better part of a day there on a sternwheeler riverboat cruise on the Chena River that runs through the town.  But, frankly, the cruise, while designed to showcase a number of aspects of Alaskan life, including dog sledding, native American culture, and even reindeer, seemed contrived and didn't generate enough photos that I thought deserved sharing.  The next major stop was at Denali National Park, where we participated in a nature hike and a bus tour of the park.

The nature hike started at 5 pm and lasted until 8 pm, not a problem as the mid-June sun was not setting until nearly midnight.  Here are a couple of panoramic shots of the overall scene from the trail.



Among the reasons we chose to do this trip in June rather than later in the summer was the fact that the mountains would still be sporting a portion at least of their winter "coat" of snow, and we were not disappointed in that regard.

The following morning we took a narrated bus tour of Denali National Park, which was nicely done.


Although the scenery was about what I was expecting for such an expansive wilderness . . .





. . . we were primarily looking for two things, wildlife and Mt. McKinley (aka Denali).  Ultimately, we saw a bit of both.  Although some of our companions spotted moose, the only local wildlife close enough for me to get shots of was a small herd of caribou.


This group was perhaps 300 yards from our bus, and even with my 300 mm telephoto I had to crop this image quite a bit to make it presentable.  I thought the stream shown beyond the animals acted as a nice backdrop for the overall scene.  Even so, it would have been nice to have something like an 800 mm lens to do justice to the opportunity.

But my biggest goal for this leg of the journey was to capture a look at Mt. McKinley.  In the end, my patience was rewarded, at least in part with this look.


In case it's not obvious, McKinley is the white area between the darker mountains in the lower foreground and the cumulus clouds above.  The very summit is, unfortunately, still just hidden behind the clouds.  I will have to admit that I had to spend a fair amount of time in post processing to tease out some of the mountain's detail.  Even so, I was happy to have caught this view, one of my "bucket list" items for the trip.  To provide some perspective, the purplish foreground mountains running through the middle of the image are 6-8 miles away and are perhaps 5-6,000 feet high.  McKinley, at 20,320 feet in elevation, is some 40 miles distant.

John

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