Trips: Denali Fall 2019

I returned this fall to Denali National Park where I spent a week hiking, cycling and flying across the Denali landscape.  The colors were vibrant and there is nothing like an aerial perspective of The Great One, Mount Denali.  

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Narrow Passage

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An Alaskan passenger train enters Denali in fall splendor

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Chulitna River

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Thorofare Pass shows off fall's colors and winter's early snowy arrival

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Arrival of autumn's first snow

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Ascending Peaks

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Snow coats the highest peak. In days it will reach the valley.

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Silhouettes

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Wonder Lake

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Denali's floor is carpeted with berry bushes, lichens and small grasses that have adapted to its unique environment

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Carpet Close Up

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Cranberries

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Denali Park Road

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Denali Park Road in fall

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Fog rises above Wonder Lake, as Denali gleams in the early morning sun above Nugget Pond

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Denali reflects in Nugget Pond

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Surrounded by berry bushes that have turned red with autumn's arrival, Nugget Pond is the perfect place to watch Denali in the morning cool.

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From the steps of the lodge at Camp Denali lies exquisite Nugget Pond and one of the best views of Denali

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Aerial view of Denali's streams

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Denali's riverways glisten below

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The peaks of Denali reach more than 20,000'

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Clouds form almost daily around Denali's peak as the moist air from the Pacific is forced up and into the subzero air that surrounds the mountain's highest peaks.

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Denali Black and White

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A flightseeing plane is dwarfed in the Denali mountainscape

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A high mountain ridge guards the entrance to Denali's peaks

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An ode to Ansel Adams who photographed this scene of Wonder Lake and Mount Denali in 1947 and marveled then that "Alaska is one of the most impressive reservoirs of beauty and wilderness - an inexhaustible resource for creative interpretation."

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McKinley Creek

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Miles of blueberry bushes carpet the shores of Wonder Lake as the Alaskan Range and Mount Denali catch the morning sun.

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A large boulder is a reminder of the glacial forces that shaped the Denali landscape

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Termination Dust, as the first snow is called, coats the Denali and the ridges below it, above Wonder Lake

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From the shoreline of Wonder Lake, Denali stands clear this September morning.

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The Alaskan Range and Mount Denali beckon in the distance beyond Nugget Pond

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Denali Portrait

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Denali Beckons

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Golden leaves, red berry bushes, blue skies and a clear view of Mount Denali

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Reflection Pond Panorama

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Reflection Pond Classic

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Carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, kettle ponds like Reflection Pond dot the Denali landscape

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A kettle of sand cranes ride the thermals higher and higher above Denali as they begin their migration south

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A handful of blueberries.

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Denali's waters reflect the blue skies above, with stands of aspen along the shores.

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A bird's eye view of Denali's fascinating river structure

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Denali panorama in black and white

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Most days Denali is obscured by clouds like these just beginning to form around its peak this morning

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Denal's peak is cloaked in the pink light of early dawn

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Three carribou cross the Denali autumn landscape

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A male carribou leads the way

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A young grizzly searches for ground squirrels

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Young Denali Grizzly

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A grizzly licks its lips in anticipation

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Autumn Road in Alaska

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Autumn Along the Chulitna River

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A large bull moose emerges from the willow thicket

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It is the September rut, and this large male is determined to send off a younger male.

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A short-eared owl looks for rodents

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Thorofare Pass and Gorge Creek

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WInter's arrival above fall's brief and fading color palette

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An aerial approach to Denali reveals the glacial river paths, volcanic origins and immensity of Denali

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The eastern face of Denali in the clear of mid morning

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An aerial view of the north and south peaks of Denali

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The high ridges guarding Denali's peaks are buried deep in snow

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The strong winds that rush across Denali shape the deep snows like so many swirls of whipped cream

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Almost to the Top - a view of the volcanic origins of Denali

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Fortress Denali

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The western face of Denali rises above the clouds in the late afternoon

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The steep walls and canyons along Denali's eastern face

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HIdden Views of Denali

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Heavy snows are loaded on the western face of the ridges leading to Denali's peaks

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Denali's Approach

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Mineral and water deposits color the Denali floor

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Glacial path leading to the west from Mount Denali

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Late afternoon sun on Mount Denali

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Denali's western face in black and white

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As the sun rapidly descends to the horizon, Denali glow turns golden.

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Much of the mountain is obscured by clouds, but the zone above is bathed in beautiful the beautiful light of early evening

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Denali's Golden Glow - in moments like this you forget the turbulence and rush of frigid air as you hang out the open door of a small plane

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The golden glow of sunset begins to fade on Denali

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As the golden glow fades, it is replaced briefly by the pink and purple of evening's alpenglow

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Denali Alpenglow