Discovery Hike

Yeah, we hiked Denali. OK, maybe not backcountry, 'run from the bears' hiking. But we can say we walked on permafrost. And I have the pictures to prove it. We took a Ranger led Discovery Hike. It's a shame I can't remember her name.

Along the way we learned a lot concerning the native flora and fauna. Here she is describing a tree's reaction to invasive fungus. Tree grows lots of thin branches in response to the infection, looking similar to a sea anemone.

Unfortunately the tree won't make it. It consumes so many resources fighting the infection it doesn't leave any to live on.

As you can see from the next photo the hike was extremely treacherous.

Well, there could have been man eating bears around the next corner.

The trail led us down toward a fast moving creek. We convinced Amy to climb out on a rock.

Amy is used to risking life and limb, she commutes north on I-95 everyday.

Wandering farther down the trail we found a octotree - half tree, half octopus.

And what hike would be complete with seeing the state flower, the fireweed.

Fireweed is a clock of sorts. The flower blooms from bottom to the top. When it reaches full bloom winter is near. It helps remind Alaskans to prepare for the impending beat down they call winter. I'll limit my visits to July thank you.

Near the end of the hike we happened upon some permafrost.

Not much to see, mostly just moss and lichens. The real test is by walking on it. It feels very spongy, since the roots can't get into the soil. Here the trees send their roots horizontally and intertwine with other trees. When they die, or if the ground shifts, they don't fall over due to support from the other trees. They do however lean pretty good, giving rise to the expression drunken trees. Look an Irish pine tree!


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