Thursday, April 28, 2016

Savage River Walk - Then Home

[UPDATE May 4:  Little did we know when we were hiking last Wednesday, that we were passing very close to a missing hiker, Michael Purdy, who, it is believed, died Tuesday night from a fall, and wasn't found until Saturday.  I've addressed this in a follow up post here.]

We drove back to Savage River yesterday morning.  It's about 12 miles into the park and as far as you can drive once the buses start - May 20.  There's a 2 mile loop trail on each side of the river connected by a little wooden bridge.  And you slip quickly into the natural world, in a slightly tamed way.  Here's from past the maintained trail looking back where we'd hiked.  Up this point it's an easy stroll, with rocks placed here and there to take the runoff from the hill.  But there are some muddy spots.  Usually in May we've had a fair bit of snow and ice still on the trail.  Not this year.  Just one snowy spot at the end.  We were on the west side (cross the bridge on the road and start from the unpaved parking lot.)  On the other side there were still some significant snow and ice patches.

[I looked for older posts about Savage River, but couldn't find any just focused on that spot, but here's one from May 19, 2007 that is mostly Savage River.]

As always, click on a picture to enlarge and focus.

The motion and sound of the water rushing were a major attraction on this hike.

lichen on a big rock

We didn't see much wildlife yesterday - none of the big ones.  We'd seen caribou, moose, and bears the day before.  But we did see a Ptarmigan along the road (still mostly in its winter white - just the head had turned brown.)  And this ground squirrel along the trail.  We've seen Dall Sheep on this trail, but not this time.  

This was the only blooming flower we saw on this trip - a moss campion I think.  We've never been here so early.  Usually closer to mid May, just before the buses start.  But it was a very warm winter in Alaska and the road has been open to Teklanika for a while now.  We didn't see many birds at all and the plant life was still waiting for spring.  Except this one.

Orange Lichen this time

There are lots of big and interestingly shaped can colored rocks along Savage River.

There are lots of rock outcroppings that I suspect were sculpted by the ice and snow.

There was lots of ice on the river at the beginning of the trail, but at this spot it had all melted and the mud was visible.

We had things to do, but our two days at the park were refreshing.  As we drove south, there were spots where the birch lining the road had leafed out, and the clouds offered a constantly changing tapestry.  

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