One sheep, two sheep, white sheep, Dall sheep

The fireweed was definitely finishing up for the season, but there were still some good patches left!

Mountain bluebells are always one of my favorite flowers, especially when kissed with drops of fresh rain.

The aptly named Monkshood.

Hiking in the park is almost always rewarding.  Unfortunately, I don’t do enough of it.  The park bus system is wonderful for protecting the wildlife and the landscape, but let’s face it, it is also a PAIN.  Plus, a dayhike in the best areas of the park requires a 2+ hour bus ride each way.  Ugh.

Earlier in August I decided it was time to explore an area I’ve been ignoring for hikes – Polychrome Pass.  The mountains are beautiful, and Dall sheep regularly hang out right by the road.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Thirty minutes of hiking led me to these guys – a bachelor herd of Dall Sheep.  Adolescent males tend to hang out together, separate from the females.  To avoid spooking them, I dropped off the ridge, then did a loop around them.  I ended up on a summit about 100 yards from the group, sat down, and decided to just watch them for a while.

For those interested in such things, Dall Sheep are the reason that Denali National Park exists.  After visiting the area in 1907-1908, Charles Sheldon became concerned about the decimation of the sheep population by miners and sport hunters.  He pushed for the creation of a park, succeeding in 1917 when Mt. McKinley National Park was designated.  It’s one of the few parks whose primary purpose is the protection of the wildlife, not “the enjoyment of the people.”

In 1980, President Carter pushed ANILCA, an act that, among other things, expanded the park three-fold and changed the name to Denali National Park & Preserve.   The park is now over 6 million acres – as big as the state of Massachusetts!

After watching the sheep for a while, it was time to move on to my true objective – hiking up another peak.  I continued over the ridgeline to another small peak.  It was just a casual dayhike, but how can you complain about views like this?