(Ron Writing) We left Taklanika Campground early this morning and drove east on Park Road to the visitor center area. It wasn’t raining this morning but we still had the very heavy overcast.
We made a couple stops to enjoy the scenery but we didn’t see any animals along the way. We parked by the visitor center and I caught up on some internet work while Elena went to the visitor center to watch a movie and listen to a ranger talk.
Later we took a shuttle bus to the ranger headquarters to see the dog kennels and attend a ranger presentation about the dogs and how they are used in the park to transport rangers and cargo in the winter. We could walk around and pet the dogs before the presentation and later they hitched-up five of them and pulled a sled around a short track.
We left the Denali visitor center area around 4 PM and headed south on Parks Highway. After a stop for gas at Cantwell we drove another 36 miles south to Hurricane Gulch. There is a large parking area at the north end of the bridge where we are spending the night. We are about directly east of Mount McKinley but the local terrain masks any view of it from this spot.
It was very cloudy this morning but around noon it started clearing off and by mid-afternoon there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Folks coming off Park Road said they had very nice views of Mount McKinley but it’s not visible from the visitor center area where we were. Late this afternoon the clouds reappeared and we had a high thin overcast the rest of the day.
(Elena Writing) There is always something to learn every day. That’s what makes it so exciting in our daily life. Today I learned that there are four kinds of squirrel that reside in Alaska: red tree squirrel, flying squirrel, arctic ground squirrel, and the marmot. I didn’t know that the marmot is categorized as a squirrel. The ranger at the Visitor Center talked and showed slides about those squirrels and their individual habits.
Last evening there was a commotion outside our RV. A baby robin’s parents were both squawking and diving at a red tree squirrel but the squirrel ignored them. Ron went outside to investigate and found that the squirrel was eating (yes, eating) one of their young! Later I heard the same commotion and went outside to scare the squirrel away. Unfortunately, the squirrel was eating a young robin but I couldn’t tell if it was another one or the same one. How sad, but only the strong survives. I shared this story with the ranger and she confirmed that squirrels do eat meat. We didn’t know that squirrels ate meat. Those critters can be ferocious.
Weather: Overnight low was 44°. Cloudy this morning, clear by early afternoon, cloudy again by late afternoon.
Scenery: Park Road driving back from the campground and The Parks Hwy this afternoon. Spectacular mountain scenery all along this route.
Gasoline Price: $4.81/gal in Cantwell, AK
Mileage: Today - 95 miles, cumulative since leaving AZ on 4-6-11 – 6,960 miles.
Tonight’s stop: Parking area at north end of Hurricane Gulch bridge (63.01546, -149.59059, 1,868’)