Seasons of adventure

Sep 5, 2015 | 0 comments

The last two weeks have been busy beyond belief. Last weekend, one of my friends from college and her boyfriend came to visit for a few days, and they happened to come on our week of the craziest weather yet this year. It was the last week of August, and over a period of 3 days, we experienced all four seasons in one. But that didn’t stop us from tackling all the adventure the weekend had to offer.
My first rapids!

It snowed the first day they arrived — so what better time to go white water rafting? Fortunately, because the river is always so cold (an icy 37 degrees F), we were provided dry suits to put on over our layers of warm clothes.

Laurie and Donald, post-splash

Although the Nenana only has up to class III rapids, it was our first time rafting for all of us, so we had an absolute blast. I always wondered if I’d like rafting as much as I thought I would. Turns out I do! More rafting in my future, please!

Hiking back from rafting

Once we got back to the park, we hiked back to my cabin on the trail, enjoying the spectacular falls colors turning the aspens and birch every color of yellow and orange and gold.

Ptarmigan family
It snowed again the following day. Even more. Nonetheless, we took the park bus out to Eielson Visitor Center to enjoy the winter wonderland and see what we could see. Incredibly, the first big wildlife we saw was my most coveted species of the entire summer: a wolf! I finally saw a wolf!
Three buses were stopped and I could barely see out the window past all the people, but as soon as I glimpsed it, my heart soared. An alpha wolf was standing on the top of a hill… howling. As everyone in the bus shushed each other, the eerie “Owwoooooooooo” could be heard. The alpha was calling and responding to other wolves out of sight — we could hear more of them than we could see.
Eventually the bus pulled forward, and in the distance behind us, the wolf crossed the road, with a spring pup following behind, frolicking in the snow. By then, it was snowing so hard we could barely see them, but I was able to take a video of it, which I’ll post later. 
Not far down the road as we began to climb up towards Polychrome Pass, another wildlife jam slowed our progress — and for good reason! A young grizzly bear stood just below the road, digging furiously under the snow for the last of the season’s berries and roots.

Where’s the trail??
We had hoped to do some hiking when we got to Eielson, but the thigh-deep snow and whiteout conditions cramped our style a bit. Regardless, we tackled the tundra anyway, and did our best to find the trail, with very little luck, and instead frolicked as long as we could until we got too cold and trudged back to the visitor center to warm up. 

Somewhere behind me would be the mountain….

Ground squirrels fattening up!
A very hardy and determined ranger-led hike

Snow rangers patrol Eielson in winter 😉

All that snow and the enthusiasm of my friends definitely helped re-energize me for my last 2-week push through the end of my season. The snow was such a welcome change from the month+ of rain we have had. And getting to show my friends around my favorite park was such an adventure and a joy!


Leave a Reply