Readers’ wildlife photos

February 3, 2023 • 8:15 am

Reader Simon Hayward sent some photos of Mount McKinley (aka Denali), America’s highest mountain at 20,310 feet (6,190 m). These were taken on his trip to Alaska, the first part of which (including caribou and bears) you can see here.  Simon’s captions are indented, and you can click the photos to enlarge them.

I put five of my own photos at the bottom, taken on a visit to the park in April, 2006, when I hopped on a small plane taking climbers to the Denali glacier. (I was in Alaska debating a creationist for the Alaska Bar Association!)

Simon: This is the glacier coming down mt Denali. You must have landed near the top (I assume)

Just an amazing wild place:

And the train! (Which we didn’t catch, but seems a good way to get there). This is the Alaska Railroad’s Denali Star train that runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks.

As I said, I was in Alaska in 2006 and rented a car to drive to Denali, where I parked and slept overnight. (It was the coldest night I’ve ever spent, even though I was inside the car in a sleeping bag). The next day I drove to Talkeetna, where I hoped to get on a small plane to get a close view of the peak. But I did better than that: a bush pilot was flying two climbers to the mountain TO LET THEM OFF HIGH UP ON ITS GLACIER. I was allowed, for a fee, to ride along, and managed to wangle my way into the seat next to the woman pilot.  We flew up, landed on the glacier, let the two climbers off, and then the pilot taxied back and forth on the snow to make a strip from which to take off. It was tricky, the plane was tiny, the journey was bumpy, and I can’t say that I wasn’t a bit scared. But it was one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done. (I showed these photos years ago.)

Here’s our bush plane, equipped with skis, loading up before takeoff. The pilot is wearing the green headscarf:

A view of Denali from my seat. These small planes, with only a thin floorboard between you and the air, induce a bit of fear!

Flying through the peaks to the landing site:

Me on the glacier with the peak in the background to the left:

And the pilot making a runway to use for takeoff. She had to go back and forth about five times.  What a skillful pilot!

6 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. “I was in Alaska debating a creationist for the Alaska Bar Association!”

    Oo, I heard that’s tough competition, that Alaska Bear Association – they’re experts with the clause.

    … I kid I kid! Exhilarating set!

    BTW # 231 : subscribe feature button still not appearing.

  2. Really is BIG, rugged country, Simon….thanks. Jerry, your bush plane is one of the best ever developed. It is a1955 Dehavilland Beaver, a predecessor of theDehavilland Otter, Twin Otter, and the Dash-8 that many of us flew on for commuter flights before regional jets took over the market. Very impressive and scary approach between rock walls to landing site!

    1. We had three days of low cloud that suddenly cleared the night before we were leaving. So the 93 mile drive from the middle of the park to the entrance was just amazing, so different from going in. Considered ourselves very lucky.

  3. Great adventure to be sure. I wondered how with presumably a lot of shaking going on you managed to get clear inflight shots… mountain scenery is always a winner with me.

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