Sunday, August 29, 2010

On The Denali Highway - Part Three

Denali Highway in the Susitna River valley.

Rusty Hill on the Upper Susitna River.

Upper Susitna Valley view.

Subarctic ground cover--now with lingonberries!

Monahan Flats divides the Susitna and Nenana drainages. Here the watersheds diverge--one to Cook Inlet and the other to the Yukon.

Occasional showers hid the view from time to time, but we had a nice rainbow in the Nenana drainage.

Fall colors and gravel moraines--the Denali Highway not far from Cantwell.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On The Denali Highway--Part Two

It was already autumn on the alpine tundra.

The highway descends from Maclaren Summit (4086 ft) into the Maclaren River drainage.

We ran out of pavement a while back but the gravel road was in great condition.

Fall colors and gravel slopes.

Crossing the Susitna River.

The high tundra was already wearing fall colors.

Friday, August 27, 2010

On The Denali Highway--Part One

In a state with few roads, the Denali Highway is one of the lesser traveled. The road grew out of a series of hunting and mining trails in the high country of the Alaska Range. These eventual grew into a rough road that connected Denali National Park with the Richardson Highway--which at that time was the only north-south road route in the state.

When the Parks Highway--connecting Anchorage and Fairbanks--was completed in 1971, the Denali Highway became a less-travelled alternate route. Since then, the mostly-unpaved road has been a favorite way for Alaskans to get away from the crowds and into the wilderness.

We first (and last) drove the Denali in 1983. We had the chance to do it again and took it.

On the Denali Highway just west of Paxton

Many pothole lakes dot the Tangle Lakes region of the Denali Highway.

Landmark Gap is a migration route through the Ampitheater mountains.

High tundra and low clouds in the Ampitheater Mountains.

This quiet-looking pond is actually a geological point of interest. Construction on the roadbed cut through the tundra protecting an ice lens, which subsequently melted, leaving a collapsed mound and a pond.

Entering Crazy Notch Gap, cut by glacial melt water through an older esker. "Esker" is a word you learn while driving the Denali. Ninety miles to Cantwell...

"Intruder Alert!" signals this caribou, with whom we briefly share the road coming out of Crazy Notch Gap. When alarmed, they raise their tails, exposing a white patch like an exclaimation mark that signals others nearby.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Richardson Highway--Delta to Paxton

On the Richardson Highway south of Delta Junction. Donnelly Dome rises to the right.

The Alaska Range--Mt. Hayes, Mt. Hess and Mt. Deborah--as seen from the Richardson Highway, south of Donnelly Dome.

Black Rapids Glacier advanced three miles during the winter of 1937, threatening to engulf the highway. It has retreated since then until little ice is visible but the glacier left a scar across the face of the slopes.

The Delta River at Black Rapids

Augustana Creek cuts through a slope to join with the Delta River near Black Rapids.

On The Richardson Highway--Fairbanks to Delta

On the Richardson Highway heading south from Fairbanks--about nine in the morning. We encountered a stretch of fog along the Tanana River south of Eielson AFB. You can see the first of it in the distance.

From the Tanana Valley, the closest peaks of the Alaska Range---Mt. Hayes, Mt. Hess and Mt. Deborah-- wear a fresh coat of snow. The first snow of the season is known as "termination dust" and paints a ruler-straight line across the slopes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Good-Bye to a Favorite "Uncle"

I didn't agree with his politics but never doubted his love of Alaska and his commitment to bettering our state.

I found this photo of him on the web a few years ago and it charmed me, giving me a different perspective on the crusty old Senator.

Good-bye, Uncle Ted--and thanks for your public service.