Passage To Heaven


Denali Park Bus and Mt McKinley, Denali National Park

Denali National Park bus and Mt McKinley in the morning light, Alaska.

This is a classic view of Denali. I love how the park road seems to connect to the base of the Alaska Range and extends up to the Harper Glacier splitting Mt McKinley North and South Peak. I converted this image into black and white to heighten a sense of darkness and light hinting by the dark foreground shadow and the brilliant morning light on the Alaska Range. Prior to this shot, I had been shooting for nearly two hours, but could not find an interesting foreground object to frame Mt McKinley. Then our bus slowed down, and this story telling composition showed up out side my window. All I had to do was to steady myself for a few shots to catch that bus.

The majority of Denali visitors take a six hour school bus ride into the park, have lunch, then spend another six hours on a bus ride back out. Statistic says only 30% of park visitors see Mt McKinley since Denali is typically shrouded in clouds. On our way into Denali, a park ranger informed us that only 5% of park visitors decide to stay over night inside the park. Of those 5%, I am not sure how many get to see Mt McKinley at sunrise or sunset.

Aside from Mt McKinley, with two million acre of wildlife preserve, the main attraction of Denali is wildlife viewing. Occasionally, our bus driver would point to a small dot far way, “See that rock there? It wasn’t there yesterday. Its a caribou!” We saw young caribous and adult male caribou with massive antlers. I took a few wildlife shots, but my main interest was the Alaska Range since there is only one Mt McKinley on earth. I suggested to our bus passengers, “This is a very rare opportunity to see Mt McKinley in this beautiful morning light.” Our bus got quiet; everyone sat back in their seats and took it all in until we lost sight of the mountains. “Its gone now!“, the gentleman in front of me quietly whispered to his wife; she nodded.