The Kantishna Experience

Trip Start Jul 12, 2010
Trip End Sep 24, 2010

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Where I stayed
Riley Park Campground

Flag of United States  , Alaska
Sunday, August 1, 2010

   We had reserved seats on a day long guided tour all the way to the end of the road in the Park. They warned us that it would be a long day but we came all this way and wanted to see everything we could. Of all days, I woke up with a splitting headache. It's been months since I had one that felt like I had really slept wrong on my neck or had really clenched my teeth all night without putting in my night splint. Being sure that it would go away, I showered and forced myself to eat breakfast. I really felt that my stomach wouldn't handle advil and I did not want to puke!! So off we went to meet the bus at the wilderness center at 7:00.
   The NPS Rangers do the campfire programs, guided hikes from the visitor centers, law enforcement, trail maintenance and work the desks at the Visitor Centers. But all the day tours and buses that run into the park are subleased to an outside contractor. Our bus driver was George who was doing it for the 11th year. He works here in the summers and goes back to Portland, OR for the rest of the year. He was very, very informative. We learned about the animals, the park history, the geology, the railroad, and on and on.We stopped about every hour or so for a bathroom and stretch break that coincided with various points of interest along the road.
   The first stop I got off thinking I would try to walk off my headache. Twice I was very close to throwing up and I did everything in my power not to gross out the other 40 people on the bus. The second stop I got out the neck pillow that I use when I fly that was in my backpack and got comfy and went immediately to sleep. Not sure how long I snoozed but the bus was going down the road again when I woke up. Praise the Lord---my headache was gone and my stomach had settled down. I munched some crackers we had brought along and sipped some water, eventually took some advil and within a short time felt good as new. Then I could enjoy the rest of the day in this beautiful place!
   We had each been provided a sack lunch with beverages so we could eat whenever we wanted along the way. There were no special stops for lunch. One of the highlights was watching 3 grizzly bears that I got on video. It was a mother and two cubs, one male and one female. The mother was eating berries. The male was "picking on" the female, pushing and batting her. She fought back and it was hard to determine if it was playing or fighting for awhile. At one point they were standing on their back legs going at it. Then she got tired of it and tried to run away from him but he chased her and continued to terrorize her. It got rougher and rougher. At this point the mother quit eating berries and came over to break it up. We laughed so was so typical of humans!
   We also saw wolves cross the road in front of us twice. We saw caribou with large racks on the way in, one that walked down the road in front of the bus for at least 5 minutes. Caribou are the only animal that the male and female have a rack but at different times of the year. They were gorgeous. We also saw a lynx laying down in the trees that blended right in with its environment. We saw several sheep up on the hillside so they look like white spots on the side of the mountain until you look through the binoculars and then you can see them better. We also saw a golden eagle and a few other unique birds. We were hoping to see a bull moose but there were none to be seen today. We did see all those other moose last week up by Fairbanks but still wanted to see that big rack.
   It was a great day and a very tired group pulled back into the Wilderness access Center some time after 7. We had heard earlier in the afternoon that the Park Road was closed because there had been a plane crash. It was opened by the time we came in but read later on the internet that a cargo plane had crashed not too far from the Visitor Center. It had burst into flames and the 3 people onboard died. We didn't see any evidence of it so maybe it was on the other side.
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