Monday, October 1, 2012

kantishna experience

denali national park and preserve, alaska

the rain began falling the previous day, and was steadily coming down when we boarded our bus for the kantishna experience, an eleven to twelve hour, ninety two mile each way, trip to the end of the park. there are no private vehicles allowed in denali (beyond the first fifteen miles), and only one mostly unpaved road leads into the heart of the park's 6 million acres, so making reservations on the bus is the only way to experience it....

except for stops at rest stations along the park road, this is travel through a land without modern conveniences or fences to separate visitors from the natural world. we are passing through a taiga forest, white spruce and black spruce grow here

shortly after entering the park we saw our first moose!! joe, our driver/ranger/guide said moose love to dine on willow, a favorite food. luckily 23 different varieties grow here. did you know the word 'moose' comes from an indian word that means 'twig eater' ?

the road followed the contours of the mountain and river valleys, the alaska range in the distance.

grizzly! this beautiful bear was spotted far off, looking quite formidable though even at this distance! it was our job to watch for wildlife, joe's job was to watch the wild and rugged road

'dirty glaciers'

toklat river rest stop. here is our ride, a bus with drop down windows for good views and for taking photos. we were glad to have heeded the advice to bring layers for warmth and rain gear for wet weather

lindy and lori in alaska!

 the previous day a hiker was killed by a grizzly, a few miles up the toklat river. a terrible tragedy for the man and the bear who had to be killed also. this was the first fatality in denali's almost 100 year history

 grizzly again!

 hello! seeing a grizzly bear from the safety of our bus was a thrill

 he walked on the road for a while, then crossed to the tundra, unconcerned with us

it felt like being on safari, looking for wildlife. in the background of this photo is one of the many rivers we crossed

thank you for showing us your beautiful self mr. bear

 dall sheep


 eielson visitor center trail

at eielson there were short loop trails to explore, and on a clear day views of mt. mckinley, or denali as the locals call it. we chose to do our visiting inside for two reasons, it was very cold and we'd only just seen two grizzly bears...

 a spectacular photo of denali

 the interactive map showed the various routes mountain climbers take up mt. mckinley, denali

although the summit of denali is only 33 miles away, there was no viewing it today, with clouds and rain and fog covering it

a stunning work of art at the center, a handmade quilt of denali

 shortly after boarding the bus we saw another thrilling sight! can you spot it? hint, there are three...

bears! a mama grizzly and her cubs!

even though these photos were taken with a telephoto lens, and we were far away, the cubs knew our bus was there and were skittish

 they ran to catch up with unconcerned mama

 we watched them forage

 and they watched us. hee hee. and they climbed higher and higher up the ridge, towards us!

 now it was time to switch lenses, they were very close

 there was no sound at all on the bus


 hee hee, quietly thrilled were we

 at this moment, the bears came on the road right in front of us

 mama gracefully gathered her curious cubs and led them back onto the tundra

 where they went back to doing what they do best, grazing and looking spectacular

the weather began to change, quite suddenly

the sun came out in spots throughout the preserve. after mile 66 and before mile 85 we came upon many ponds dotting the tundra. i searched for beavers, muskrat and alaskas only amphibian, the wood frog. this time (i hope to come back!) i saw only waterfowl

nearing mile 85, joe pulled the bus off the road and stopped the engine. he spoke quietly telling us if we sit patiently and look where he was pointing, we would see a rare sight. as if watching a time lapsed film, we watched a furious wind blow huge clouds off the alaska range, revealing mt. mckinley, north americas highest peak. when i learned i was coming to alaska, the one thing i'd heard was 'hope you see it!' mt. mckinley ~ denali, supposedly shows itself 30% of the time. because of it's height, 20,230 it produces it's own weather

 it was awe inspiring

the first true accent was in 1913, and the first man to reach the summit was walter harper. the mountain is regularly climbed today, with just 58% of climbers reaching the top taking typically 2-4 weeks to ascend the mountain

  my sister and i said silent prayers of thanks to have the privilege to see this incredible sight

mile 85 wonderlake with spectacular denali revealed and shimmering in the sun

we made it! 92.3 miles to kantishna and the end of the road. at wonder lake we unboarded the bus and hiked with a ranger to this spot, while learning about the historic area we were in. keith, the kantishna ranger thought i needed a photo with this sign

 we visited an original settlers cabin,  pioneers fannie quigley and her husband joe

 fannie quigley

 joe and fannie and friends

leaving kantishna and moose creek valley now, feeling reflective and curious about the early settlers who staked claims during the gold rush, can you imagine how life was for them then? on the way back, denali began to slowly cloud up again


and caribou buttons, these and the wool pictured here were found in denali, near our lodge. did i already say alaska has the best yarn shops?!

joe is showing us soapberries. they are a favorite of bears. he said they have a strong taste, he asked would anyone like to sample them? my sister lindy did. i took a photo of her eating them, but i think she would be mad at me if i showed you that. they were definitely strong and she made a face. hee hee.

 an arctic ground squirrel

on our return, we stopped at the polochrome pass lookout (the guide book says visitors who are afraid of heights should sit on the north side of the bus. the narrow road climbs up through tortuous turns to this rest area, built intentionally to take advantage of the spectacular views) this time i did take the trail above the lookout, joe said there may still be a few summer wildflowers growing

 i found this tiny blue one

and this, i wonder what it will become?

  it was exciting to get an up close look at the tundra we'd been driving by

on our way back

 with noses pressed to the window, we didn't want to miss a thing

joe explained that autumn was fleeting here in denali, the first snow fall is on the way soon. we are at the end of the season, in another few weeks the park will be closed until next year

seeing these moose on our way out was a perfect ending to a spectacular, memorable day. it's been said that to enter the wilderness is to revitalize our inner selves. i believe.

it happens that while i was traveling, my blog celebrated it's four year anniversary. the best way for me to describe how i feel about this is, just as nature feeds my soul, blogging, meaning you dear friends, fill my heart and life with endless joy. thank you so much. i looked for something in alaska to giveaway, to celebrate this occasion...

and i found these:  one skein of homespun 100% merino wool, made by subarctic spinners in denali park alaska. the wool is 2 1/4 oz, a bulky weight. there are 6 buttons, a lovely natural shade, made of caribou by ulu maker. and a small sample of qiviut, the ultra luxurious fiber from the arctic musk ox. if you would like to win please leave a comment on this post letting me know. a name will be chosen by random number generator on sunday october 21st. thank you and good luck!

thank you for all the lovely comments on my last post, the winner of knitting 24/7 ebook is anke of 'our little piece of heaven'. congratulations anke!  please email me at and i'll get your copy to you. i hope you'll enjoy!

thank you so much for coming along on this alaskan adventure, it's truly a pleasure to share, we're heading to the cruise ship and glaciers next!
xxx lori


  1. I love vacations that are filled with history & such beauty & that you and your sister gave a silent prayer of thanks ♥
    Congratulations to Anke on the win.

    Happy October 1st Lori.

  2. Lori, this is simply awesome. Please know that my husband and I have been glued to our computer screen taking in this wild beauty. I can almost imagine I'm there. Almost. It must have been one amazing (tiring too?) day.



  3. wow. there really are no words. such stunning photographs. the bear pictures were AMAZING! thank you so much for sharing

  4. Oh my, what am amazing adventure, your pictures are stunning. The wildlife is amazing, and I can only imagine how wonderful it was to see it in person.

    Thanks for sharing and for the lovely giveaway.

  5. Beautiful. Thank you for making me feel like I was along on the bus - really! Your blog is my go to spot. I feel your images and words. What a wonderful trip/experience. Just love your work. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing, Lori. Please enter me for your drawing for the yarn, buttons and Musk Ox sample!!! XOXO Susan

  6. Wow! My father and step-mother took a cruise to Alaska. They didn't venture very far inland. It's amazing to see all of these spectacular photographs! Thanks for taking us along on your journey. (:

    And also wow! What a generous giveaway! I've always wanted to know what qiviut would feel like. (:

  7. Dear Lori
    The whole Pengelly family gather around to experience the trip through your beautiful photography. There were many "" for the baby bears and they loved that the name of the moose comes from the indian people's observations!
    Best wishes for many more blogging years

  8. Lori ~ I was so excited you resumed your Alaska blog tour when I turned the computer on this morning (I knew Denali was your next stop and I have been there, although not on this wonderful bus tour). As always, your pictures are incredible and awe inspiring. The last time I was in Alaska was before I had started getting interested in photography and also before I began knitting, so I was excited to see how you saw the beautiful country through your creative eye and masterful picture taking, and really excited to hear about the yarn finds!! I would love to win your giveaway, please count me in, but if I don't, I will be searching out shops myself on the next chance I get to go back! Thanks, Lori! Melissa

  9. Loved the pictures (again). I would love to enter your giveaway, it all looks sooooo exotic for us at the other end of the world... I was just thinking Alaska should go on our bucket list. You catched so many wild animals in such spectacular pictures. I'm a little envious, just a little...

  10. Fascinating and beautiful post, Lori! I loved the way you described your trip and the wonderful pictures.....the moose, the bears, the magical mountain...I love the colours you captured too, and the sense of travelling you manage to convey so well. The yarn looks lovely and so do the caribou buttons...I'd love to enter your giveaway please.
    And congratulations on your blog anniversary, here's to many many more :)
    Helen x

  11. It looks like the prettiest days of the year, there, in Alaska. I grew up with a wonderful dog called Alaska. Only during her late days I found out that I wish to go there, the land of my dog.

    I join the crazy give-away. Thanks for giving away and especially for sharing these beautiful pictures!

  12. Absolutely spectacular--beautiful scenery, and incredible photos! The bear cubs, peeking through the grass, my goodness. Incredible.

    Congratulations on your blog-a-versary. It is always a wonderful treat to visit you here. Please, please enter my name in your giveaway. Thank you, so much. :)

  13. Lori your pictures are breathtaking. I love how your wording and photographs take us on the adventure with you. So many amazing things you saw. Absolutely stunning. Oh and of course it would be amazing to win your giveaway. I would love to get to feel the qiviut for myself.

  14. Just amazing! - I'm almost wordless, Lori! Those colours, animals - nature is so beautiful! I shall look this post again and again! Congratulations to your blog anniversary! x Teje

  15. ... I was so much in your colourful photos that forgot to say that I would be very happy to enter your give away! Thank you so much for sharing those unique things! x Teje

  16. the flash of yellow maple amidst the green pines...and the tiny leaf and red berries of the soapberries (your brave sister, Lindy ♥) so many lovely pictures!

  17. Lori you have a way of making me feel the trip; The progression of the photos, the suspense, almost have a time lapse quality to them. A spectacular post! And the moose picture near the beginning is the best photo I've even seen of one.

  18. Speechless. I so loved seeing Alaska through your artful eyes. **blows kisses** Deborah

  19. wow! i feel i always start with that after reading one of your posts... but, seriously. those grizzlies and that autumn shot with the rainbow? sooooo cool. i love that you have an alaskan yarn giveaway, but as i'm living in one of the hottest regions on the planet (maybe i'm exaggerating) i don't think i should take anybody's more needing opportunity away from them. but, those caribou buttons are really sweet too...

  20. I love moose. The bears are adorable and all, but moose? *sigh* I definitely have to visit Alaska sometime in my life.

    Thank you for sharing!

  21. I love that you take the most beautiful pictures because it really is like being there with you. I have always had a list of places I would love to visit and Alaska is one of them, this post pushed it right to the top.
    Ugh those baby grizzlies...that is the most amazing capture.
    Wow another giveaway Lori...fantastic!

  22. Such a beautiful tour - love the photos of animals, flowers and gorgeous scenery. I do hope I see Alaska someday.
    Thanks for a chance in your giveaway!

  23. Wow -what an amazing, inspiring post - and then a giveaway at the end! You are too generous. I definitely agree about the inner soul part, I felt the other day that was lacking much needed attention so I went on a two hour hike through the forest hills by the Missouri river this weekend. Definitely revitalized me! Thank you for sharing so many photos of your trip.

  24. I literally held my breath as I scrolled through your photos and story. I can only imagine how you felt taking them and being in awe of such a dynamic land. The grizzlies are magnificent creatures and I hope to take a trip to Alaska one day and see them up close as you experienced. XOXO

  25. I enjoy your adventures and seeing places that I haven't seen. "Pretty old world" is a phrase often used around our house and that's what I think of the part that you've shown here too. So fun, thank you.

  26. I am with no words..Everything is so amazing! Thank you for sharing all these with us Lori! To me, this is a gret gift!!!
    xxxx Alessandra
    Happy belated Blogiversary!!!

  27. beautiful lori !
    i cant wait to visit Alaska.
    Bad news on the death, hiking seems a huge risk where
    bears are present :(
    Gorgeous presents to be won!
    Wonder what the pioneer cabinet side box was for?

  28. I have just finished reading a book called The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. The story is set in Alaska in pioneering times. Your photos really brought this book alive especially the photos of the Quigley's and the moose. If you haven't read it I'm sure you would love it especially after your travels into Alaska!

  29. oh, be still my heart. you guys got incredible views of denali. it really is rare to see it while on the bus in - i have gotten the best views from the drive down to the park.

  30. Such peaceful-mood inspiring pictures, I think my favorite is the caribou against the sky. You explained the experience so well. Please enter me in your giveaway. Thanks!

  31. Dear Lori...your photos are stunning and are a wonderful way for all of us to sample what you experienced. So breathtakingly beautiful! And all those grizzlies...oh, my. Right as I speak, a big black bear is roaming our property, up to mischief and not at all perturbed by the crazy barking of our dogs and the neighbourhood dogs. But this is a black bear, not a grizz! And I admired your buttons as soon as you showed the photos only to discover your giveaway...oh, sweet you! Crossing everthing for those (but I know, lightning doesn't srike twice)! Hugs, my world traveling, beautiful friend! Please, next stop, British Columbia ~ you'll love it here. :)
    xo Jules

  32. What striking images - especially the one full of deep green trees bar one bright yellow one, thank you for sharing your journey, I feel as though I have learned more about the world I live on today. Ali.

  33. Thank you Lori

    I always enjoy your blog and beautiful pictures but particularly enjoyed these pictures. They are a peek into a world rarely viewed. So awe-inspiring! I would love to be the recipient of the gorgeous yarn. Carla

  34. Wow oh wow, what gorgeous pictures. I feel like I was there with you! I love getting a glimpse into your travels, such fun!

  35. Foto poetiche e colori emozionanti! Ho appena scoperto il tuo blog,complimenti. Farò vedere queste bellissime immagini al mio bimbo. Grazie per la condivisione e per il delizioso giveaway a cui partecipo con gioia.

  36. Wow, I feel like I'm reliving my Alaskan honeymoon when looking at your pictures. They are simply wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your trip!
    Best wishes,

  37. Lori, Wonderous. I had such a good time here today, lucky you to be there in Fall, how beautiful. I cried looking at the bears. I am still not blogging much, but had to come see you and so glad I did. xoxo

  38. Amazing! Such beautiful country - through your post I felt I was almost there! Have thought a trip to Alaska would be interesting - now for sure its on my list.
    Would love to win the beautiful buttons and yarn.

  39. Thank you so much for taking us along on your beautiful trip. I've loved soaking up the beauty and peace in your fantastic photos!

  40. Gorgeous, gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing your spectacular trip. Nature just has me awed. Unbelievable. The sight of the mama bear and her cubs reminds me of Blueberries for Sal". Love that you saw McKinley and some soap berries. Man that yarn is also a beautiful sight.

  41. Hi Ms. Lori, I had fun watching African Cats with you. I love the yarn and the buttons seem pretty cool!


  42. Gorgeous trip! I would love to see a moose in person (wild) but you can keep the bears...I love that your sister tried the berries-she is as adventurous as you!!

  43. Lori,
    Thank you for sharing this adventure with us! I loved your photos and descriptions, especially your blessing of seeing Denali!
    And how sweet of you to offer up the yarn and buttons! I would love to win either of them!

    Debbie - mcsix at embarqmail dot com

  44. Lori - outstanding OUTSTANDING pics - I feel like I was with you! oh its all so gorgeous, and colorful, and beautiful. thank you!! I just love seeing the caribou and bears and everything.

  45. I think I'd like too enter a giveaway for the first time, ha BUT I must say pictures are outstanding.. Colours reminds me Ireland though, funny. Especially the one with sheeps.
    All the best

  46. My Dearest Lori Ann,
    I have come back again and again to gaze upon the beautiful photos you have posted, they are just amazing. I really am a homebody and have no desire to travel, but Alaska is the one place I would love to see before I die. Thank you so much for sharing your trip and letting me see Alaska through your eyes and for hosting such a fabulous giveaway, just to be able to touch that
    qiviut would be great!

  47. What an amazing adventure this has been for you. The landscape is truly magnificent and your photographs fantastic! How generous of you to host such a great giveaway, too.

  48. What a trip! I backpacked in Alaska for a month when I was sixteen, and seeing your beautiful photos makes me want to go back. I didn't learn to knit until eighteen, so it may be worth going back just for the yarn? ;). Thanks for sharing your adventure!

  49. Thank you for taking me with you. I am dreaming to visit Alaska for a long time. You photos marvellous - You must have had a great time there...

  50. So very beautiful and amazing! And that handmade quilt of denali at the center is absolutely gorgeous! I just love seeing nature in all its beauty untouched by man. Thanks for sharing your awesome trip and photos. Hugs and blessings, Tammy

  51. i always look forward to visiting with you. i let you do all the talking and i sit so still, absorbing the youness of you. everything aligns here in your blog and i thank you for that. this post makes me yearn all the more for alaska, but for now i'll give my home, montana, an extra thanking hug. and yes, i would love a chance to win this giveaway.


  52. Oh wow, those bears and that view! Amazing!

  53. Gorgeous photos. I've always wanted to visit Alaska. Also, please enter me in the giveaway.

  54. Such beautiful pictures and lovely giveaway.

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. Oopsie, I posted a comment the other day, but forgot to add that i also would love to be included in your drawing, thank you!

  57. delicious photos, delicious buttons! count me in Lori!

  58. Since I cannot travel to Alaska at this time, I appreciate being an arm-chair traveler following your adventures. I would love to win this giveaway so I can feel qiviut in person

  59. Beautiful photos!!! You have had a spectacular year, thanks so much for sharing.

  60. dear lori, thank you for all you do in this blog - and congratulations on your 4th anniversary ~ i cannot tell you how marvelous it was to view all these photos you share here, what a privilege to see all that wildlife and those amazing views of a pristine paradise. someday i will go, but in the mean time i savor it through your loving images.

    btw that mama in the last few shots with her cubs - why is her fur white? is she molting or something? it was sort of strange to see...

    and i appreciate your lovely giveaway, but you don't have to include me as i am hopelessly bad at knitting and don't want to take away a chance from a truly deserving recipient :))


    1. thank you amanda :) the grizzly's color ranges from blonde to brown, that was just her blonde white fur. it surprised me too!

  61. Ms. Lori, I think the yarn is pretty, and the buttons, too. I love you Ms. Lori.


  62. Beautiful photos, Lori! I would love to see Alaska one day and I would love to win your lovely giveaway. Happy 4 years!

  63. What breathtaking photos! I feel like I've been on a real adventure. Thanks for sharing. xx

  64. I would be CRAZY happy to win....please add my name to the giveaway..

    The photos...stunning...simply stunning each and every one...

  65. It looks like such a wonderful trip,,,,

  66. Happy 4th and to many more. I have to say you get to go on the best trips ever!
    Great photos.

  67. ALASKA WOW----:-)

  68. What a beautiful place! Thanks so much for sharing such neat photos! Pleas add my name to the giveaway!

  69. What an amazing trip you had! And, as always your photography is lovely!
    Thank you for sharing!

  70. Congrats!
    And thank you for sharing such lovely photos :)

  71. What an amazing post and spectacular photographs! My biggest boy who is now nine has had a toy moose since he was a baby and is very attached to it, when he gets home I will show him a pic of the 'real thing'. I have informed my hubby that we are taking the same route someday....what a trip of a lifetime!

    I would love to be entered to your lovely giveaway, thank you!

  72. What a gorgeous set of photos! I've never been to Alaska, but I hope I get to go there (or maybe just to the Yukon) one day.

    I'd love a chance to win the yarn and buttons, too.

  73. I'd love to be in the giveaway, thank you. Thanks also for sharing your travels with us, I love your photos.

  74. Superb. I would love to visit Alaska. Such magnificent view and amazing colors of wildlife. Lori, you're so privileged to have made the journey.

  75. What a great trip Lori!
    My family took a 7 week tent trailer camping trip up the Alaskan Highway in 1969 when I was 13. It was the trip of a lifetime! (We drove from Buffalo , NY)
    I wish I had a better camera back then..... I only have my old instamatic "snapshots" and memories. Your photos are fantastic!
    I would love to go back with my husband someday.
    Put my name in the giveaway...I have a daughter who loves to knit. Thanks!

  76. Your photos are beautiful, how lucky are you to visit Alaska and Africa in one year. I know they are not...but don't those grizzlies look cuddly?

  77. I was telling my daughter about your fantastic glacier pics and thought I'd go back and look at the other ones.....fancy seeing all that and the mountains and the colours. All mind blowing. I would love to do that trip one day. Please enter me for your lovely give away. Joan

  78. Lori, your pictures and narratives have been so enjoyable. We went on an Alaska cruise last summer and this brings back sweet memories!

  79. I just found your blog today via Ravelry--your Pi shawl sure caught my eye!--and am loving your adventures. I've longed to go to Alaska for years, but until I can, I'll have to enjoy yours, and others, trips vicariously.

  80. I am from New Zealand and have just found your blog. Your photos are absolutely breath taking. I am happy to seei am not the only one who knits in cafes! I would adore gorgeous wool and buttons from USA!

  81. Gasp! Lori, you have this way of leaving me utterly speechless. Your photos are just INCREDIBLE. Just, um...WOW!

    And your giveaway! What a delight it would be to win a little piece of Alaska, especially after getting to know it through your eyes and heart.

  82. Your Alaska photos made me miss Colorado so much! I grew up waaay high in the Colorado Rockies, I remember walking down the mountain thru the kinninkinnick to the Bookmobile once a week, snow or no snow. I was getting my new books! Thanks for the memory jog and the yarn and buttons look lovely!

  83. Dear Lori,
    Oh this has been the most beautiful, wonderful, amazing, fantsatic and gorgeous post!!! Caiden and Kye have both pulled up chairs to sit next to me to see all of your photos. What a lovely place, the Arcitc Ground Squirrel is their favourite and the baby bears.
    I would love to enter your giveaway, I realise South Africa is very far away from you, so we're holding thumbs.

  84. Hi Lori, I'd love to be entered into your draw. Thanks!

  85. Lori, your photos are breathtaking. Your blog is one of my favoritest places on the interweb :- ) I feel like you take me along on a thousand adventures: to Africa, Alaska, sea kayaking, yarn shopping--you are an inspiration <3

    Please enter me in your giveaway.

  86. Hello Lori,

    I would love to enter your lovely blogversity givaway. I wish i had discovered you sooner. You take us all to places we would like to visit.

    Thank you Susan xxx

  87. oh, Lori!! how you captured the beauty and wildness. words can't express how thrilled i've been to be taken along for the adventure! thanks!!!

  88. I love your photographs! I sit here and feel like I just went to Alaska!
    Would love to feel the yarn:)
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  89. These pictures are just gorgeous. What a trip!

  90. Alaska is a wonderful place and your photos are gorgeous.

    I did have the joy of visiting Alaska and especially liked Sitka.

    I'm sure the yarn you purchased was a joy to have.

    Lil Bit Brit

  91. Would be fabulous to win this!

    BTW your photos are fantastic!


  92. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful experience with us.. the photos are stunning. Alaska and Mendocino are definitely on my 'need to visit' list. Thank you for the chance to win this lovely souvenir from's so kind of you.

  93. Lori, what a gift you give to share this beautiful place with us!
    It's a dream of mine to visit Alaska.
    Thank you so much for these photos and the details of your trip.


xoxo lori