Denali weather: High 52, Low 50 with rain, rain, rain all dang day!
Fairbanks weather: High 57, Low 48, sunshine with some clouds until about midnight when clouds came down and covered the whole sky. Brilliant full moon before that though, but no northern lights to be seen.
Steps walked: Shaun 13,936 steps and 43 floors climbed; Shannon 13,245 and 41 floors climbed.
Critter count: 2 moose cows, 3 moose calves, and 1 moose bull, plus a bunch of arctic ground squirrels, a chickadee, and some reindeer at the University of Alaska
Today we had to catch the train to Fairbanks, but we really wanted to hike some of the trails in the area, so after breakfast we checked out, left our luggage at the front desk, and caught the shuttle into the park. We visited the Murie Science Center first. Adolph Murie was instrumental in changing the attitude of the folks who ran Denali so that they would leave all the wildlife alone and not try to "manage" the natural processes. His research showed that the ecosystem has to balance itself out from the largest predator to the smallest insect or it will not survive. The Center had all kinds of displays and computers set up that showed where different birds and wildlife had been spotted in the park, as well as 360-degree views of the vistas we'd been seeing from the park road with captions telling the names of the mountains and rivers and all that. There was even a dinosaur footprint discovered in 2005 on display! It was definitely our kind of place, and we really enjoyed it.
We continued to descend down into Horseshoe Lake, which was beautiful. We stayed awhile because one of the folks had said that the bull was in the area, but we didn't see him and were actually kind of glad that he hadn't just popped up somewhere along the trail. I kept hoping he would appear across the lake from us, but no such luck. That's okay, though, because we were totally psyched about our close encounter with a moose. The only bad thing was that we had to climb back up the valley, and it was challenging but doable.
Unfortunately, about the same time as the sky got truly dark (which was about 12:45am, thank you very much), the clouds came down over the dome and we were covered in thick, mucky fog. No northern lights for us, and to top that off, we had to drive down off of the dome...and we were tired....and did I mention that it was REALLY dark? Well, it was really dark and foggy and scary, and we're not doing that again....ever.
We finally made it to bed around 2:00am, so our first full day in Fairbanks will start a little late. That's no problem, though, because we have 2 1/2 days here with nothing scheduled, so we're good. Tomorrow will be the Visitor's Center, hopefully a city tour, and the farmer's market.