September 2. We signed up for a guided kayaking trip on Byers Lake, located about 15 miles north of the hotel in Denali State Park. It was a cool and foggy morning, and I wondered if we would see any scenery with all the fog. Our guide was named Nat, and like many people working here in that I ran into, he had come from the Lower 48 for a relatively short stay and never left. He was very knowledgeable.
Byers Lake was a beautiful body of water, and it had loons. If you have never heard the cry of a loon, then you have missed one of the most beautiful and haunting sounds in nature. The loon pair was too far away for a decent picture, but they are a magnificent bird. We also saw a mature bald eagle, a pair of trumpeter swans, and many dying and dead coho salmon that had somehow completed their long journey against unimaginable odds. One thing that Nat told us was about these huge fishing fleets, very well connected politically, that were fishing for some kind of fish that ends up as frozen fish sticks. As a by-catch, they end up catching millions of salmon and just throw them back in the water, dead. It is having a major impact on salmon popluations, but sport fishermen, subsistence fishers, and grizzly bears do not have the same political clout as the fishing fleets do.
As our group paddled north, the fog was lifting and I noticed everyone pointing to the left. I turned my kayak, and there was one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen: Denali - The High One - the highest mountain in North America, stark white against a blue sky. Here are a few photos of a great morning on this beautiful lake.
Morning fog on the lake:
Colorful kayaks along the lake shore:
40 or 50 miles away, Denali is still an incredible sight:
Zooming in on "The High One:"
Forested lake shore with pockets of fog:
Another view of North America's tallest peak:
These trumpeter swans are North America's largest bird, and they mate for life.