Friday, February 15, 2013

Denali Discovery Hike--Part III

We continued our hike toward the shelf overlook after crossing the creek and a fun encounter with Willow Ptarmigan.   (click here to see previous posts)
While hiking in the wilderness it is always advisable to be on the lookout for grizzlies.  A large group like this makes enough noise with movement to pretty well let any wildlife know humans are around, however, chest high willows can obscure the view of a feeding bear or even a sleeping bear.
Above we stop to examine a bear dig.  Grizzly bears dig down through the tundra soil to unearth roots, voles and ground squirrels, as well as, the foods the animals store.  The freshness of the dig gives an indication of how long ago the bear was present.  This dig was hours old, but later we came upon a large depression in the foliage where a bear had recently taken a nap.  Denali bears nap and feed all hours of day and night.  

Grizzly bears are omnivores and eat foliage and berries along with meat.  Below you see a stand of soapberries, a favored food in August and September.  (Not a flavor I enjoyed!)

Below:  a clump of saxifrage

Above and below, the fire red autumn leaves of the Fireweed.  

Above a variety of lousewort, possibly whorled-leaf lousewort.  Below, the entrance to an arctic ground squirrel's burrow.

Arctic ground squirrel, above.  In one hunting technique, Grizzly bears are known to slam their forepaws against the ground to cause the earth to tremor in an effort to scare a ground squirrel out of its burrow.  In late summer, juvenile ground squirrels are dispersing from their natal homes and dig temporary, shallow burrows.  These shallow tunnels are easier for bears to dig than a deeply tunneled family burrow.
Above and below, tall cotton grass.
Below, flowering Sitka Burnet
Below you see our views as we approach the tundra shelf.  Beyond is the glacial river.

Caribou paths carved in the tundra, below.
The caribou have already begun their migration, but have left behind trodden trails and an occasional hoof print (below).
Next:  Discovery Hike IV and more about the Arctic Ground Squirrel

For more information about Denali's caribou herd click the link.
And for an incredible read about caribou:  Being Caribou by Karsten Huer.  Visit the Being Caribou website.
This is the third post in a series about my Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve lead by Denali Ranger, Bob King.  To see the entire series click here.  Scroll to the bottom for the first post.

Links and Resources:
Click this link to view all my posts on Denali National Park and Preserve.  To see all posts on my visit to Alaska in the fall of 2012, visit Alaska

Denali National Park and Preserve
Willow Ptarmigan
Alaska wild berries

1 comment:

  1. The scenery is breathtaking Vickie and it looks to be of such wildlife diversity and those wildflowers...I am so impressed that you got all of their names;')Happy weekend.
    BTW, the Red-shouldered Hawks came to breed on our 2 acres and have a nest nearby, but so far, I have not found is too cold to go looking.
    So very sad about the death of the Whooping Crane..all of it very sad!


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For the Love of It...

...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.
Sendivogius (1750)

Your Uncapped Creativity...

Your Uncapped Creativity...
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly." ----the great dancer, Martha Graham