THe Journey Continues

August 17, 2012

We are at the Denali Visitor’s Center watching a film about the park as we wait for our ranger-led hike that begins at 10 a.m.

“Ranger Pete” is our guide for the 3 mile hike over a variety of terrain and ending at Horseshoe Lake.  Pete is over 6 feet tall, hails from Michigan and has only been a ranger for 4 months.  He is in his late twenties, clean shaven, and his black framed glasses sit loosely on his nose.   His hike on the trail will educate us on the arboreal forest and the trees, shrubs and plants that surround and shape the area.

There are 14 in our group and before we start out, Ranger Pete passes out plastic cards with a plant or tree on it.  (Mine is the mountain alder)  It is our task to identify this growth in the forest and then read about it; kind of like a scavenger hunt.  Pete also lectures us about bear, moose and wolf in a cute demonstration which the 8 and 10 year old kids in our group can relate to.

There are berries along the trail, all edible including blue, crow, pumpkin and cranberry and I sample each one.  Rather tart, but the bears sure love them!

When we arrive at Horseshoe Lake, Pete points out a very large beaver dam and tells us about their behavior.  He searches in his gray backpack and pulls out a beaver puppet, recites the chorus of a song he wrote and we join in.  No animal sightings on this hike, other than a red squirrel scurrying up a tree.

I now can identify so many more trees and plants in the forest thanks to the information from “Ranger Pete.”

At 12:30 we say good-bye to Denali and head north to Fairbanks.  Along the way, we pull off the highway and eat our lunch (leftovers from the night before) sitting in the RV and gazing out the window at the few ducks enjoying the a swim in Otto Lake.  It is a bit chilly and starting to drizzle.

Continuing on our ride, we listen to our fourth audio tape, “S is for Silence” by our local Santa Barbara author, Sue Grafton.

Checking out 3 campgrounds in Fairbanks, we decide on Tanana Valley Campground.  Since Fairbanks is a big city and has many attractions to see, our stay here will be 2 days.

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