Today I’m featuring a superb photo from Denali National Park taken by Joy Sheehan from A Jaunt With Joy Blog.
Photo Story: Denali National Park
I’ll never forget my first solo trip to Denali National Park. I had chosen a stunning campsite at Wonder Lake near the base of Mount Denali and set up my large tent.
The drive into the campsite from the park entrance was nearly 6 hours one way, but the ride to get there was gorgeous!
Views of incredible fall foliage and snow-capped mountains surrounded us, and the wildlife sightings were plentiful.
The next day, I hopped on a bus back to the rest of the park to see the other campgrounds.
My sister was flying into Fairbanks in a few days and I was trying to decide on a campground closer to the entrance.
I got off the bus at Igloo Creek campground to wander around the campsites and take a few photos of the nearby mountain goats.
When it was time to head back, I walked up to the bus stop and waited for my ride back to Wonder Lake.
The posted bus schedule said there would be 2 more buses coming within a few minutes of each other and that they were the last ones headed that way for the day.
I saw a bus coming and waved at it. To my shock, the driver waved back and KEPT GOING! As I calmly sat on the bench to wait for what I thought was the very last bus, it started to drizzle rain.
Minutes ticked by and no bus came. I had a sinking feeling that the buses were off by a few minutes and that the driver who passed me by was actually the last bus back to my tent — a 5-hour drive away!
It quickly dawned on me that I was stranded on the roadside in the wilderness of Alaska with nothing but a daypack in the rain. And I had just seen a grizzly a couple miles back. I’ll admit I started to panic.
My degree is in wildlife biology and I’ve had a few chances to work with black bear research, not to mention my job training in bear safety and protocol. I should not have been panicking.
But what’s a girl to do when she finds herself in this situation?! My mind was racing as it tried to come up with a game plan.
Luckily, before I had to spend the night curled up in a ball in the nearby port-a-potty where surely that bear would come back for me, a bus came cruising down the road in the opposite direction.
I flagged it down for help and 7 hours later, after a whole lot of radio chatter and one angry bus driver, I was back in my tent dying in laughter over my own stupidity. Lesson learned. Alaska 1, Joy 0.
Denali National Park and Preserve is an American national park and preserve located in Interior Alaska, centered on Denali, the highest mountain in North America.
The park and contiguous preserve encompass 24,464 km2 which is larger than the state of New Hampshire.
On December 2, 1980, a 8,687 km2 Denali Wilderness was established within the park.
Denali’s landscape is a mix of forest at the lowest elevations, including deciduous taiga, with tundra at middle elevations, and glaciers, snow, and bare rock at the highest elevations.
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