Thursday, May 21, 2009

Denali - Wolf & Denali Update

When I have been seeing wolves, they are often at a distance. When first observing the pictured wolf above, he was down in the river valley and appeared to be leisurely hunting.

Although the light was not that great, it was a stoic scene with the lone wolf on the snow and then crossing the river.

To our surprise he came out out of the valley and onto the road.

He looked right over at us and then went into some willow to hunt for hares. This wolf was then joined by another and we watched them hunt as a pair for hares. Awesome.

Most of the snow is now gone. There are still scattered patches throughout the park and on the mountains. It still gets down to freezing most nights. The amount of snow that has left the park is amazing. The visitor center is now open, our small ranger checkpoint cabin opened yesterday at milepost 15. The buses are running tourists all day now. One of my responsibilities is to provide a brief talk, on the buses, to the tourist when they stop at the checkpoint. The road to milepost 80 is cleared, they are letting it dry out some, so the buses are only going out to milepost 53 (Toklat) currently. I can no longer drive the road in the evenings to milepost 30 during my off time for photography. Unfortunately my photo trips will be limited to the front country now (milepost 15), except on my days off when I will be taking backpacking and photo trips to the back county. From our ranger checkpoint cabin I see Dall sheep and Harlequin ducks in the river below every day. Had two rams down low on the path behind the checkpoint cabin and a cow moose with two new born calves pass to the side yesterday. On a sad note, the snowshoe hare that was greeting me in the morning outside my cabin was taken by a lynx. His remains were scattered in the parking area. I also had a bull moose in velvet and a yearling blocking the entrance to the shower house last week.

Next post, grizzly in the road.

Blue Skies.


Rajesh said...

Very beautiful capture.

koand said...

Witam , spotkałem kiedyś Wilka w lesie , był ode mnie w odległości ok 5 metrów. Przyszedł i odszedł spokojnym krokiem , niestety nie miałem aparatu fotograficznego.
Świetne zdjęcia , pozdrawiam , Andrzej .

HBFG said...

Powerful animal, what a great photo, glad the wolf came your way...
looking forward to the grizzly post! :))

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Hello Ken. This is a lovely update. It sounds like you are going to be kept pretty busy this season. Troutbirder is there now and was saying that people can get off the busses at any point and hike around. In one way that is a lovely idea but I just hope they know what to do when coming across wild animals.

The wolf looks as if it is used to humans being around. I wonder if the lynx you posted pictures of was the one who got the hare? Unfortunate but part of the circle of life isn't it.

Thanks for keeping us posted. I look forward to seeing those you take on your first hike when yo get days off.

Ken Conger Photography said...

Thanks for heads on on Troutbirder. I just posted to his blog.

To answer your questions:
Before anyone can go into the back country to camp, they have to go through a mandatory orientation program and are required to pack all food and cooking items in a free provided bear canister. Campers can select a from a variety of huge sectors that are regulated so as not to have human land disturbance.

The lynx that was posted was photographed at milepost 29 and my cabin is at milepost 3, so it was not the same lynx. As you say in reference to the hare, the circle of life, is very well termed. The food chain is something you probably see in Africa on a regular basis as well.

Blue Skies.

jeannette stgermain said...

Beautiful photo! (came over from Joan's blog when I read about the wolf) Cheers, jeannette

Tim Rucci said...

I figured you were busy since it had been a while since your last post. Sorry about the showshoe hare. I showed Cindy the hare photos a while back and we shared the thought about how cute it was - we thought about the way you were seeing it first thing in the morning and thought that was pretty cool... But those things happen, unfortunately.

Nice shots of the wolf; I especially like the first one. I'll be looking forward to seeing what you post from your back country adventures. Cindy's parents are on their way up there (leaving here on Monday I think). When I find out what day they will be in Denali I'll let you know by email. It would make their day if you saw them on one of the buses and were able to greet them.

Your skies are a lot bluer than ours lately - It has rained the last 5 days almost non-stop in North Florida. Take care, and be safe when you go out hiking.

Qiper said...

Like the Wolf photos ken - your commentary on life at Denali let's us get a feel this wilderness area

The Birdlady said...

Oh, isn't he something! You must be having the time of your life!

Salty said...

Totally awesome Ken!

You certainly are living a dream and making the most of it. Apparently the wildlife that frequents near the road is comfortable with a degree of human presence making for amazing photo ops.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

I left a message for you on the spider post Ken.

It is good to put them through the orientation. In my years in the bush I have seen people do extremely silly things and nowdays, people do not think or worry much about the environment unfortunately. I am not saying all people, but most. The bane of my life is going to these places and seeing beer bottles laying around which have been thrown out of car windows. I wonder if they realize how much damage it can cause to an animal?

You are right, that lynx was too far away. I do not know what the average square meter a lynx has for its territory. So maybe you will see this one which took the hare soon. :) At one stage I learnt a bit of tracking and it was extremely interesting.

Yes, being in the bush is not for the squeamish. You see prey being caught and eaten on a daily bases, from lions down to smaller mammals and it can be disturbing to some people. But that is the way of life and must be accepted as such.

Keep us posted with more of your wonderful pictures and commentary.

Twisted Fencepost said...

This trip you are on is amazing. Wouldn't we all love to be there with you, observing.
Thanks for sharing it with us.
These pictures are awesome.

kjpweb said...

Oh Wow - you're really are having a cool deal going on there. Not only having a chance to be there but being paid for it, too! :)
Keep 'em coming my friend - and all the best from a currently rainy (yeah!) Florida.

Carolyn said...

Wonderful post and great photographs and you are in some of my favouritest country in the world. Thank you for sharing.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

I keep on wanting to tell you that I like your quotes on the right hand side, especially the second one.

NatureStop said...

Amazing shot!!

fishing guy said...

Ken: Wonderful that you could capture the wolf as it passed by.

Willard said...

A wonderful series, Ken. The first is a superb portrait, and the rest complement it well by showing the wolf in different poses.

Fish Whisperer said...

Superb image. Well done.

Juan C. Aguero said...

Congratulations and good document!!
Beautiful Wolf

Andor Marton said...

I like #1 - excellent portrait with eye contact.
I hope you have meanwhile running water, have a great time and make some good pictures. I will take also a vacation for about 3 weeks.