Friday, July 17, 2009

Yukon Trip 2009 - Day 13 Part 3 - Dempster Highway

As we continued our leisurely trip back towards the campsite, after returning to the main highway, we pulled into another side road that opened into a large graveled area (there are all kinds of these sorts of areas along the highway)....

Where we found this Semipalmated Plover had a nest....smack dab in the middle of parking lot!

I would have dearly loved to walk over and get some pictures of the nest....but knew as soon as she got disturbed to the point she wanted to lure me away....I retreated

and backed off until she felt comfortable enough to return to, and settle down on the nest.

Now back at North Fork Pass, we pulled over to take some pictures of the wonderful wildflowers that were growing in the tundra.......

a closer view of the 'tundra garden' - this might look 'dry' but in fact walking on the tundra is like walking on a bumpy sponge and kneeling down to get closeups like the ones following...results in a wet knee.

Some of those White Drayas....also called Mountain Avens.....

The wildflower book I bought calls this little shrub, which is everywhere on the tundra, Lapland Rosebay - it is obvious that it is a member of the Rhododendron family - in fact is every bit as showy as those rockery azalea we buy at garden centers.

A closer look at this Lapland Rhododendron.

and here is a wonderful member of the wallflower family - Palla's Wallflower....they lacked scent but had large, showy flowers.

Then there were these tiny little flowers that I haven't been able to identify but appear to be some sort of creeping Phlox

This spectacular looking flower is Wooly Lousewort.....

Now, with wet knees, we stopped at the viewpoint that overlooks the campground. If you enlarge this picture (click on it) you will see, just to the left of the middle...a bit of white - those are roofs of RV's parked in the campground. The 'dust' cloud would mean a vehicle was coming (actually it was a convoy of trucks taking what appeared to be work camp accommodations, up the highway). We thought that patch of white to the right of the picture must be a frozen lake so in the evening, after supper, Ernie took his bear spray and bear banger and set off with Shantz to investigate......

This is Cotton'll see more of it. It forms the foundation for large areas of the tundra....the tussock created by the grass eventually forms a base for other plants to take root in

You can see the Cotton Grass in the lower right hand corner of this picture, taken as they neared the 'lake'.

Turns out it wasn't a 'lake' at all, but ice created by the North Fork Klondike River during the freezing process.

Thus another wonderful day came to an end. The temperature had reached 27c that day, was still 25c at 8:00 pm when I was writing my journal. I took the above photo from our campsite at 11 pm. A lot of the pictures I'm posting have been adjusted for lighting etc.....this one, and the one following, are just as they came from the camera.

Photo taken from the same spot at 1:00 am in the morning of June 5, 2009
Campground fee: $12. Total distance driven to date: 3505 km.

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