Denali’s ban on private vehicles not only eases congestion, it increases sightings through sharing inside the bus and between guides. Our busload was stoked and quickly chalked up sightings of caribou, moose, and Dall sheep. Then, far down in the valley, a charging grizzly caught someone’s eye. As the bus pulled over, someone else noticed that the bear was chasing a moose and calf.
The pair had a fair lead, and as they passed through a wooded area, the calf split off, turning east up the valley slope. Mom kept herself visible and kept the bear on her trail. When she reached the river our valley ran into, she drank and then rolled in the shallows. Running for your life is hot work. By the time the bear arrived to slake his thirst, she’d turned east, following the river downstream. We continued our tour, crossing a high bridge as the moose hustled to pass under it.
When we retraced our route, we spotted a grizzly sacked-out on a hillside. As if on cue the moose made her way down a hill from the east as we crossed the bridge. Since she was headed our way, we stopped for more pictures and then noticed a calf coming up the hillside to our west! Our bus was directly between them, and our camera’s salivated for touching reunion pictures. Had we all been in separate vehicles, there’d no doubt have been gridlock, and no one would have moved until the pair picked their way between SUVs. Our bus driver eased back onto the road and got us out of their way–picture-less.
Score two for the moose.