Day Three- we woke up in the morning at the Riley Creek Campground (which is very nice), to freezing cold weather inside the RV from BNBRV (BNB RV). The heater stopped working after only being on for 40 minutes, and that's after running the generator as we should have.
We got up and went to the Denali Park Visitor's Center and found out about their awesome Dog Sled Dogs and tour. Denali is the only National Park that uses the dog sleds for real purposes, and they've done so for nearly 100 years. We got to pet the dogs, and then the Park Ranger did a demonstration by running a 5-team dogsled around the grounds on dirt (the sled had wheels). The most awesome thing was how all the dogs (around 4o dogs) yelped and begged to be chosen as the 5 dogs for the demonstration, they really love running. Our boys got pictures with the sled and then we took off to spend the night at the Savage River campground further inside the Denali Park.
While driving inside the park towards the campground we passed a marsh and got out to hike and take pictures. When we got back inside the RV we drove up the road a mile and got our first great look at true wildlife. There was a big moose literally on the side of the road, and traffic stopped both ways to take pictures. I got out of the RV and grabbed some shots as shown below of the moose grazing in the wild...it was awesome to see something like that (and not in a zoo), but in real life.
We made our way to the Savage River campground, got everything situated, ate dinner, and at 8pm (still light outside for hours to come) then the boys and I went on one of the most awesome hikes of our lives. We went down to the river and for about 20 minutes I tried to keep everyone dry, especially because it was cold outside. When I determined that we weren't going to be able to go where we wanted to go and stay dry, I told the boys to forget about and we were going to go wherever we wanted to do whatever we wanted to do...which as you can imagine they absolutely loved.
The sky outside was absolutely magical, full of clouds and pastel colors. We passed through the braided river many times in different places and then started hiking up a bluff to get a better perspective on everything. While stopping to take a picture of the boys I heard a sound I will never forget, the huffing breathing sound of a bear! We knew we were in bear country and I had some bear pepper spray that we'd bought in Alaska, and all the advice we'd been given was to make a lot of noise and not surprise or startle a bear. If we managed to keep some distance and let the bear know we were there, the high probability would be that we would have no problems.
The boys froze and said, "What do we do?" Even though it was a little scary I felt like we couldn't get a good view of where we were (and the bear) if we didn't continue to head up the bluff. So I told the boys to keep saying loudly, "Hello, Bear!" We slowly but surely hiked up the bluff with our eyes peeled for anything that moved. When we got to the top of the bluff there was nothing there, the bear had left. I was glad that it happened though because it was a good experience for the boys to practice some bear safety.
At this point it was after 9pm and we were about 2 miles from the camp. We started heading back and this time we took even less care in crossing the river as we all got soaked. The boys even got their shoes stuck in the mud which was hilarious. As we neared the end of the hike around 10pm we were treated to the most wonderful sunset of deep magenta reds and pinks in the sky. The pictures below weren't enhanced at all regarding the color...I'd never seen that in a sunset before and it was the only color! We got back to the campground around 10:30pm and got ready for bed. It was literally one of those kinds of days that I will never forget as a Father....absolutely wonderful. When my boys are all grown and gone some day....I will always reflect upon this great day......