Nerodia rhombifer, 07 July 2007

Nerodia rhombifer, the Diamondback watersnake;
Cleveland county, Oklahoma (07 July 2007).
Learn more about this species at iNaturalist.org.

AKtoFL: Chulitna River, Denali, & the Alaska Range (31 May 2011)

Chulitna River and the Alaska Range
Denali State Park, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska (31 May 2011).
Day 01 of the 2011 Roadtrip from Alaska to Florida (Mile 0134 of 7221).

Panning back from the last shot, here you can see Denali over the horizon with the Chulitna River flowing in the lower foreground. Rivers such as Chulitna are regularly fed by snow and glacial melt. This can give the water a silty, almost milk-like texture and tonality. 

AKtoFL: Denali from a Distance (31 May 2011)

Denali (elevation 20,310 feet)
Also known as Mt. McKinley, Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America.
Denali State Park, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska (31 May 2011).
Day 01 of the 2011 Roadtrip from Alaska to Florida (Mile 0134 of 7221).

Denali, also known in the Lower 48 as Mt. McKinley, looms over the horizon, as seen looking northwest from the southern portion of Denali State Park. Indeed, Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America, can be seen from across much of Alaska. You could even see it from the northern portion of Anchorage. An absolute behemoth of time and energy.

AKtoFL: Moose’s Tooth from a Distance (31 May 2011)

The Moose’s Tooth of the Alaska Range
A part of the Alaska Range
Denali State Park, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska (31 May 2011).
Day 01 of the 2011 Roadtrip from Alaska to Florida (Mile 0134 of 7221).

Looking northwest from the southern portion of Denali State Park, this is a view of the Moose’s Tooth portion of the Alaska Range, which itself is situated on the eastern edge of Ruth Gorge. I can barely fathom trying to hoof those rocks on foot and by hand. 

AKtoFL: The Chulitna River & the Alaska Range (31 May 2011)

Chulitna River and the Alaska Range
Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska (31 May 2011).
Day 01 of the 2011 Roadtrip from Alaska to Florida (Mile 0134 of 7221).

My first significant waypoint –an area I’d hike around and explore a bit– was Denali State Park (still a bit south of Denali National Park, which we’ll visit later in this series). Featured here is Chulitna River backdropped by the Alaska Range holding sentry to the northwest. 

AKtoFL: The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (31 May 2011)

Papilio canadensis, the Canadian tiger swallowtail
Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska (31 May 2011).
Day 01 of the 2011 Roadtrip from Alaska to Florida (Mile 0103 of 7221).
Learn more about this species at iNaturalist.org.

When you think of Alaskan wildlife, you probably think about bear and moose. That makes sense, of course, but let’s not forget about the little ones! This is a Canadian tiger swallowtail going about the business of life in the all-too-brief Alaskan summer season. 

AKtoFL: Susitna River Creek, Alaska (31 May 2011)

Susitna River creek
Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska (31 May 2011).
Day 01 of the 2011 Roadtrip from Alaska to Florida (Mile 0103 of 7221).

In Alaska, many of the creek systems are essentially seasonal — they exist and flow in liquid form during the warmer months as a result of snow melt and glacial run-off. The water can be rather silty but still provides much appreciated mojo to the adjacent plant communities.