Denali magic.

After our stay in Halibut Cove, we headed up the Parks Highway to Denali National Park, our favorite place on earth.  For five days we were again blessed with great weather.  Denali was "out" the entire time we were there, so our family from Hawaii became members of the 30% club.  That's the estimate for the number of Park visitors who actually get to see Denali from inside the Park.

We camped at Teklanika Campground for 4 nights and spent most of our time mountain biking the Park Road.  This gives us the ability to really take our time spotting animals.  On Sunday it really paid off.   

We have gotten to know a bunch of the shuttle bus drivers over the years as we've biked the road and they told us where there was a rendezvous area for a breeding wolf pair with pup, so on our last full day, we biked down from the top of Highway Pass to the spot and we sat on the side of the road and waited.  And waited.  It's incredibly rare to see a wolf in Denali, so we waited so more.  And then the sun moved just enough to light up a bright spot on the hillside across from us.  Even with very good binoculars and my longest lens we couldn't be sure.  We went back and forth between "OMG, I think that's a wolf laying there" to "nope, it's a rock".  And then the rock stood up!  It was the collared female wolf that had been sleeping.  She got up and moved to a new spot under a willow tree and lay down again.  As I was photographing her moving, Devany caught a very brief glimpse of one of the wolf pups.   One of our favorite shuttle bus drivers came by with his load of tourists and stopped to say hi, so we were able to show him where the wolf was.  More and more buses showed up and we had quite the wolf viewing party :)   Then as Devany was trying to show one of the drivers where the wolf was, the driver said "oh there it is", only it was the male wolf much higher up the hillside that we had never seen!    Both wolves were a long distance from the road, but it was a magical afternoon.

As usual, there are way too many pictures.  Click on the images for full-screen.  The captions tell the story.  Hope you enjoy the trip as much as we did.