Year of the Lynx!

The drive from Skagway to Denali is a long 14 hours. It is a beautiful drive through the Yukon and parts of Alaska, but still long. Twila was with me for the drive and that makes it go by faster and not seem as long. When we got to Denali we set up camp and got ready for the next week of looking for moose and other animals in the fall.

            Before we arrived it had rained every day and for most of the days. Out photo friends who were already there were very tired of the rain and ready to get out and go hiking. We didn’t hike our first day as we were still tired from the drive, but we really didn’t find much just driving the road. It was nicer the next day and we were ready to hike. There is an area where I know caribou to be at more than other places, and as we were hiking to it one went running by us. It had no intention of stopping and ran right by us. We found another caribou not too much longer afterward and it was much calmer. We didn’t get to spend too much time with it as a fly irritated it, but before it left we were able to capture it with Denali behind it! 

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            The moose weren’t really cooperating and the fall colors were late to arrive. That happens all the time in nature, as we can’t control how and when things happen, we just have to be there when it does. We were seeing moose, but only small males and a few females. There was an area I really wanted to hike to and check out, but I had never been there and it was a long hike. After not much success elsewhere, Twila and I decided to do the hike. It was well worth the hike! It was the best day we had with moose. We ended up finding a couple of nice bull-moose in an open area and the fall colors were better in that area too. After spending time with them we kept hiking and ended up finding another nice bull moose. We really did hike all over the place, and hiking in the tundra is hard and tiring, and it was fun finding different moose and getting great photos!

            We were tempted to hike out to the same place the next day, but our legs were very tired and it was raining. It ended up being a great decision not to hike, as some friends of ours found a few great horned owls and a couple of them sat in a perfect yellow fall tree! The owls were awesome and I had never gotten to photograph great horned owls in Denali before. And that they decided to sit in the one yellow tree in the forest was even better.

            Overall there might not have been tons of action going on for our trip, but we found and had some incredible moments. The day after the owls we really didn’t find anything, but that all changed late in the day. A mother and baby lynx!!! The tundra makes it very difficult to photograph a lynx because they disappear immediately in the tundra. After numerous attempts and lots of trouble to continue finding them in the tundra, I had one opportunity to photograph one of the kittens and got it! I, of course, wanted more but getting any shot of a lynx kitten is awesome!

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Driving back to Skagway I just got into a zone and was looking forward to being done driving. Many hours into the trip I saw the back end of an animal go into the woods. I thought it might be a lynx, so we stopped and checked it out. After a few attempts to find it, I walked in at a different spot and our eyes locked. What a moment! Finding a wild lynx sitting still watching me was incredible! Twila was with me and we got some incredible photos! Once it left the area it chased a squirrel and we were able to capture it with the beautiful fall colors behind it. We both got incredible photos, photos you never expect to get of wild lynx! The rest of the way back to Skagway felt like it didn’t take long because we were

Best Denali Trip Ever!

Every year I look forward to going to Denali. Most places I photograph have one or two animals I can photograph in that area, but Denali is different. I will go with a certain animal I want to photograph, but there are also 3-4 other animals I can photograph if I’m not finding the animal I am wanting the most. So it’s exciting because I just never know what I will find.

Denali has some of the largest moose in the world, and it’s always exciting finding a monster. The problem is, the terrain is so vast that these huge moose blend into the environment. The entire first day Twila and I looked and looked for moose and our eyes hurt from scanning the terrain looking for moose. As we were leaving in the late evening to maybe find something else before dark, I spotted a moose off in the distance. It was not in an easy area to get to, but he looked big and we were determined. When we got to him, there was another bull moose there as well, and that was awesome. It may have been my best shoot ever with moose because of the light and the different shots we were able to get!

After getting such great moose shots the night before, I wasn’t too worried finding some the next day. It’s such a great feeling when I am able to get great shots on the first day and I can then focus on other photos I am wanting to get. We still looked for moose, and we found some, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the night before. We spent more of the day looking for bears, and finally had a great opportunity with a mother and her spring cubs coming up a river drainage right to us. Denali is huge, and I haven’t had many opportunities with cubs in the park, so I was excited about getting good cub photos in Denali.

The weather was not good the next morning, so we looked for different animals, and we were rewarded for that decision. I’m not going to write in detail about our incredible experience, and truly an experience I never thought I would get to have, but I will share a few photos of the wolf pups we were able to photograph! It truly was so special and I never thought I would get the chance to photograph wolf pups, but I did!!!

When we weren’t watching or waiting on the wolf pups, we photographed the landscapes of the park. One super early morning we even found a lynx (Twila’s first lynx!) and were able to get a few photos of it before it disappeared.

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This was my best trip to Denali, and I have taken so many trips to Denali. It seemed like every day we were getting shots that were incredible! That is not normal. For a week trip if I can get two days that I get great shots I consider it a great trip, so for every day to be getting great shots, it truly was an incredible trip! I can’t wait to be back in Denali in a couple of weeks for more opportunities.