Alaska had a bad spring and even a worse summer. When we arrived in July we heard from the Alaskans that the weather had never been so bad. 38 days of continual rain had severely disheartened them. We put them at ease. We brought the good weather with us from Holland, so it can only get better. Our bold statement worked.
Except for a few days, we had good weather in Kodiak. After four weeks in Kodiak the improved weather conditions on the mainland continued. At the beginning of September the sun came out and so far it’s still shining. That’s very odd because September is supposed to be an extremely rainy month and now in September it has not rained yet.
We had planned to visit Denali after Kodiak so that we could take some more photos and make some video shots of the mating ritual of the moose. Afterwards we also thought it would be a good idea to record Mount McKinley in all its Autumn colours. We were able to take several different shots, at various angels, of this wonderful mountain (6200 meters high with snow fields of 2000 to 6200 meters).
The South Western (Petersville Road)
The South Eastern (View Point South Parks Highway)
The North Eastern (Denali Highpass)
And finally, the North Western (Denali Kantishna Road by Wonder Lake)
We were very lucky that on one of our last days there, we were given the chance to travel to Kantishna with our own camper. We decided to do this so that we could record the sun setting on the north side of the mountain. We had already seen a very unusual sheltered lake along the way that could give a beautiful reflection during the ever occurring evening wind. It was seven o’clock in the evening when we arrived. We quickly set up and adjusted our cameras and prepared ourselves for the setting of the sun, the colour parade upon this big mountain and the intermittent reflections in the water. Not a soul to be seen. We felt as one with the sun’s demise. Suddenly, Rika and I heard in the distance the noise of hundreds, thousands of cranes, crowing a sort of Angelus.
First we thought they had landed somewhere on the ground, but suddenly I spotted a group of these birds in the sights of the camera. They flew along the flanks of Mount McKinley and circled in wide arcs higher and higher. It seemed a kind of thank you dance for the great mountain for the lovely stay in this amazing country. After circling they flew east along the snowy peaks of the Alaska Range, which surrounds Mount McKinley. The large flight of birds resumed their course and apparently continued their pilgrimage South.
We were still quite overwhelmed by this extraordinary spectacle, when suddenly the almost full moon appeared over the tops of the snowy mountains. The cranes had already decided what route they were going to take and were not going to be deterred by this. They flew over the mountains from all directions straight across, or coming out above, the moon, each with their own strange crowing sound. The cranes sang for McKinley, for the sunset, the moon and for us.
The emotions in this so deserted country, where the three of us stood, had us completely in its grip and it would take a long time before we had dealt with these emotions.
Yes, sometimes Nature does show signs of real life. If you look hard enough you may find it yourself.