Yesterday, I posted about a road trip Jeff, Summer, Saige and I took to Denali National Park last weekend in search of fall colors and snow. Denali in September: Fall Color and Snow was a look at the big views where a composite harmony of hues, both fall and winter, worked together to create nature’s art.
Vivid yellows, bright greens, and white snow combined with earthy tones as the color palate. But it was on our walk around the paths that surround the visitor’s center where we were able to get up close and personal with the small details that make up the whole.
After our warm up session in the Visitor’s Center following a hike up Savage River, we headed back outdoors. The weather out on the trails remained cloudy with a slight chance of bears, but we weren’t getting snowed on.
Tall trees lined the way and forced our gaze to the forest floor, where fallen leaves, summer berries, and evergreens were fighting their own little battle against winters inevitable grip.
The older I get, the more I love these kinds of walks. I think it’s because with age comes greater reflection as I try to recall memories. Middle age does that to you. I’ve watched my kids grow and leave into the world on their own and I want to hold on to anything I can and keep them close. If they’re getting older, I’m getting older too.
So, I try to capture everything beautiful in detail around me. I see Summer’s eyes more deeply, I feel Saige’s warm hugs more intensely, and I can’t help but smile myself when I see Bridger’s cheesy grin. I view nature in Alaska with a heightened sense of awe and wonder. I want to remember it when I’m heading into my winter in life.
Summer and Saige enjoy tiny treasures too. They knew when I changed to a macro lens on the camera that it was time they changed their focus as well. We all looked for hidden gems.
I loved listening to them as they worked their way through a rock feature; first admiring the whole, then squealing with excitement as they focused closer on the textures and delicate details. Jeff found all sorts of berries (that’s kind of been our thing this summer), and proceeded to determine if they were edible.
He has a berry guide, but there were a couple we weren’t so sure about. There are a lot more berries in Alaska than you’d think.
We knew the Rose Hips were ok and loaded with vitamin C. After removing the seeds, Summer popped one in her mouth. Her expression twisted a little as apparently it was tart.
Low bush cranberries hugged the forest carpet, which Jeff informed us were probably good to harvest. Apparently they are best after a good freeze. We tried one and left the rest for the bears. After all, hibernation is coming fast.
Small red berries surrounded by green needles and snow brought up conversations of Christmas, and the popular kid berry question, “Can we eat it?”. They knew the rule of ‘when in doubt don’t put it in your mouth’, but they still had to ask anyway.
Saige found that melted snow made for lovely water droplets on the leaves. Liquid beads became the prized find as we looped back towards the visitor’s center.
A snowy leaf and small mushroom, completed our treasure hunt as we headed out to the parking lot and home to some warm food. Our trip to Denali in September was complete.
Memories were made, photos captured, Summer and Saige actively engaged in nature, and we made plans to return in winter for a dog sled tour. You can’t ask for more than that…
Denali National Park Tip
When hiking in Denali is brought up, some people’s imagination (mine) immediately drifts to visions of being chased by a bear. They are out there, but I’ve trekked around Alaska a lot this summer and never had a problem. Follow the rules, be bear aware, and in the national park, stay on the trail.
There are a lot of places to hike in the park, many of which are close to the visitor’s center, on paved trails, with ranger guidance if you’d like. It’s perfect for kids as you can go just a couple hundred yards, or several miles.
I recommend that you don’t skip it in your efforts to go deeper in the park. The map above, courtesy of nps.gov shows the trails you can access easily right by the entrance.