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To say that the views on the ride out of the park were good would be an understatement. A partly cloudy sky opened up with a pink sunrise followed by the soft light of Alaska that comes from unpolluted skies and a sun that sits lower in the sky. The golden hour for photography here is longer because of our northern latitude.
Shortly after we passed the pink sky and mountain view we shared in the last posting, we came upon a pair of bull moose who were checking out one another. Above we see them framed against the spectacular Denali backdrop. It is September, the beginning of rutting season and the males are out and about.
Here is another view from near the same spot. Note how bright white the moose's antlers appear. This is no trick of Photoshop. The antlers appear that bright when they reflected the morning sun. Perhaps, to make them easier to follow?
Here they are again, a few minutes later, the same two bulls with Denali's mountains in the background. .
The moose is the largest and heaviest member of the deer family. The name is borrowed from native American languages of the Algonquian and Eastern Abenaki. Some linguists believe the name is derived from moosu, a term that means "he strips off," likely a reference to the male's practice of stripping off the fur their antlers in the fall as rutting season approaches.
Here is a close up of one of these imposing 'deer.' Another can be seen below approaching. Note the vegetation caught in his antlers.
The slow ride out stopped to see Mt. Denali again, still visible under mostly clear skies. After the stop, we started seeing grizzlies on and near the road. The one below was near a short overpass and was accompanied by the cub you see below.
These bears are big, as you would expect from a grizzly. But, we are told and will confirm for ourselves later in the trip, not big for grizzlies. The food sources are limited here. There are no salmon runs in this central part of Alaska to support a larger body size.
The lone road through Denali makes a good path for the bears. Here, two we saw earlier on the hillside beside the road are walking by one of the Denali buses. As you can see below, everyone including the bus driver is trying to capture an image of the bears.
With all this activity taking place near the Park road, we did not see a female moose until near the end of the trip, a good 30 miles distant from the two males we saw earlier in the morning. Here she is in the shrubs and tall grass. Happy to graze undisturbed.
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