Monday, December 21, 2015

Grizzly Cubs in Denali National Park

 Alaska 2014 continued:


We are finally at the end of the Alaska trip!

While this was ultimately a birding trip--and we saw well over 100 species of birds, many of which were new to me--the parts that stick with me have more to do with the amazing scenery and other animals that we saw. From the boulder-strewn tundra of the Seward Peninsula to the glaciers of Resurrection Bay to the mountains of the interior, I was blown away every day by the beauty of this amazing state. We were lucky to see musk ox on the tundra, the only place on this trip where we could have seen them, and certainly something I could never see at home. Caribou too, and Dall sheep. Then of course all the marine mammals, like sea otters, Orcas, harbor seals, and Stellar's sea lions. Those beautiful, calm, clear days on the waters around Homer and Seward. Getting to join the 30% after being lucky enough to see a cloudless Mt. Denali (whose name has been changed from Mt. McKinley since I started this blog series). Spending ten days with eight of the nicest people you could hope to be stuck in a passenger van with.

But on that last day, with our trip though Denali National Park winding down, we were treated to the ultimate sight.

As we trundled along the dirt road in the tour bus, we spotted a grizzly fairly near the road, digging in the soil for insects and roots. She glanced up as we approached.

Grizzly sow less than 50 feet from the side of the road!

As we inched forward, two small brown blobs became visible.

Could it be?? 

There, scratching in the dirt as they imitated mom, were two first-year cubs.


To say we were delighted would be an understatement.

They scritched and dug and rolled around on the side of the hill. One paused to take a look at the bus as we idled on the side of the road.

He eventually got up and found a stick to chew on...

...while his sibling looked on.

I could have sat there all day, watching this family. To be so close, to have such an amazing view of them as they went about their day to day lives, roaming free, not in a zoo, not behind a fence--it was magical.

We were only able to spend a few minutes with them as another bus rolled up and waited their turn to take a look. While it was such a short time, it's an experience I'll never forget.

I cannot wait to go back.

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