Caribou of the Forty Mile Herd
Rained all day yesterday here on the Top of the World Highway, but I decided to stay put and wait for some nice weather to go back up to the border and hunt for more caribou. Plus I really hate to drive the rest of this incredibly grand ridge running highway when I can’t enjoy the spectacular views. In addition, when I see the vehicles pass by that are just covered in mud, it seems it may well be worth my while to wait for a dry day to continue on.
As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.
So this morning I was up and out as soon as I could tell there was some sun and blue sky above the fog that enshrouded my roadside campsite.
As I climbed back west towards the border, I kept running into and out of the fog/clouds, making for some wonderful photo opps.
I have spent the past week up here on the Boundary Spur Road and now the Top of the World Highway and I have been able to observe the tundra vegetation turning color right before m eyes.
It really is starting to get quite colorful and I assume it will become more so before much longer, sort of reminds me of autumn in New England, just a lower version. And yes, that is my rig in the image above, one of the nicer spots I have been parked on this trip … a pretty nice view, plus with the border shutting down at 8 PM and not reopening until 8 AM, there is absolutely no road noise at night so the silence up here is deafening.
A couple more shots of my campsite.
A Successful Caribou Hunt
I ran into my first small herd of caribou bulls around KMM 90 on the Top of the World Highway as I made my way back up to the border.
They weren’t very cooperative as far as providing me with any good lighting, staying between me and the rising sun, but they did come in fairly close …
and at one point, their curiosity about what I was doing kind of got the best of them.
A little farther up the road I ran into another small group of bulls as they made their way up a ridge and disappeared into the valley below.
My good fortunes continued when I turned off the highway and investigated one of the few side roads, very rough and muddy, but I discovered yet another small herd of bulls gathered in this area.
This is one of my favorite shots of this group when they all turned to see exactly what that strange five legged creature was that was so obviously stalking them.
Around noon the group finally stopped moving and settled down for a siesta.
I wonder if these two are related. The younger bull followed this mature bull very closely all the while I was following the group.
This turned out to be one of the most exciting, rewarding, and physically exhausting days of this entire Alaska adventure! Following these guys, walking on the spongy tundra carrying my tripod and camera mounted with the 600mm lens, had me wondering at times if i was going to have a heart attack. But well worth the effort, just a great day at the Top of the World!
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