Are grizzly bears really grizzly? Or, maybe they are actually deserving of another name? You be the judge. What should they be called?
Grizzly bears are secretive! What could they possibly be saying?
The proper name of this beautiful bird is the Willow Ptarmigan (the “P” is silent).
If Arctic ground squirrels were ten feet tall, we could domesticate them and use them for park transportation. Or “All right, Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up”.
In 1997, my friend and I had driven to Denali Park from Fairbanks in the pre-summer season when a portion of the park is open to Alaska residents. We had road access to Teklanika and had not seen another person or vehicle on the road all morning. It was a beautiful day, the snow had receded and the sun was shining.
My friend saw a small mountain in the near distance from the road and wanted to climb it to get a better view of the area. I decided to stay back and make coffee. I could see him in the distance, slowing making his way up the 3,500 foot peak. I decided to walk, following a set of semi-recent spring bear tracks in the snow… stupidly, but safely.
When I reached the end of the tracks, realizing I wasn’t going to see the bears that left them, I turned to walk back up to the park road. As I walked into a curve in the road, a pack of wolves emerged from the embankment and stopped directly in the middle of the road less than 30 feet directly in front of me. I stood motionless, in complete awe of the moment.
Time stopped and the prehistoric part of my brain took over. I had never seen wolves in the wild, and here I was a stone’s throw away from a pack of ten Toklat wolves. The alpha wolf was white and large; he took several steps towards me, positioning himself between me and the pack. He sniffed the air, engaging me in eye contact as the entire pack stood nearly motionless. Chemistry and body language flowed between the pack as they waited for their leader to make the next move.
Without breaking my eye contact, in the slowest of possible motions I reached down to unscrew the lens cap from my Konica 35mm. I searched with my fingers for the f-stop settings to get my telephoto lens into position, advancing the film as to not make the slightest noise. He knew what I was thinking.
I broke eye contact and lifted the lens as to heroically get off one magical shot… yet in a fraction of a second, the entire pack was gone into the brush.
I learned a valuable Denali Park lesson that morning… memories are often more valuable than photographs. Enjoy the golden moments.
Photo by Kirsty Knittel
Memory by A. Arenson
While majestic, moose are often noted as one of the most feared animals in Alaska. During mating season or when surprised, especially with baby moose in tow, they can be one of the most aggressive and deadly animals on the North American continent. Moose are best enjoyed at a safe distance.