Monday, September 29, 2014

Birds & other creatures... up north

General rule: up north every 'crow' you see is a raven. It was the most common bird we saw.
And they are iconic.






























Then we saw a good number of ptarmigans. They are so earnest, alert, & approachable.

Whiskey-jacks showed up whenever we had a picnic in a campsite.
Ground squirrel...

Brandts-- a smaller Canada goose cousin....
& tundra swans, gathering before migration...


A hawk eagle-- a life bird for me. I got a picture of one stuffed.
But sadly for me, no big mammals.
This would have to do....



At Eagle Plains a few stuffed animals amongst the house plants from Maui!
 ...& a spritely 3-legged dog in Dawson...
On my last day on the road we saw an aerie--it had been there many years. The guano marks the spot...& there's lots of it.
In Whitehorse we spotted a sanderling on a main street. It was filling the English sparrow/starling niche.
The north is a hard place to make a living for creatures, human or otherwise. It was a big contrast to Africa which has the same kind of vastness, but surviving there is considerably easier, hence there are more animals.
Though in both places non-native or modern practices have created big depletions.
That's it for now.



Rocks & Mountains -- Trip North

There were 3 mountain ranges we were close to: the Tombstone Mountains at the beginning of the Dempster Highway, the Ogilvie Mountains in the middle, & the Richardsons further north.

I want to share some rock formations & mountain shots. The geology was terrific, that's for sure.



Sometimes with a lake like that there would be two white dots... nesting swans. 
 Crumbling rock vs. vegetation... back & forth... crumbling makes vegetation possible & more crumbling can wipe it out.






                                       Layers & scree

  I was particularly fascinated with the small patch of very thin layers of rock upended (below)..... shale, maybe...

It made me think about a huge puzzle being undone, breaking up.



Harder rock stays, softer rock crumbles.

This seepage... oil? water?
This river (above) is a drinking source for large ruminants needed mineral. We didn't see any goats here, but we could have.
Here is the red of iron.
And below the red of sulphur.
 And finally glacial scrape lines-- large & small.


                                           I find them thrilling.

                                             That's all for now.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Ogilvie Mountains

Our first views of the Ogilvie Mountains was with fog pouring over it like a fog-fall.
When we got here we all spoke about THIS is what we came here for. It was so other-worldly & beautiful & spacious.
I kept on shaking my head in awe.






The land forms were soft. This is never-glaciated terrain, not touched by any of the ice ages. There is mainly wind erosion, as rain is not plentiful here.
The colors, the vastness, and the sense of emptiness reminded us all of the American southwest.
In the land creases where there is more moisture there was vegetation: trees or small plants. 
(The line of poles (above) you can see must be snow plow & grader guides on the roadway.)



The range of subtle colors reminds me of the hues of 'natural' textile  dyes.




Much of what I saw I couldn't explain to myself.

At the top of the pass was ice fog.


We passed quickly through it. There was a brief flurry of snow.

I do love ptarmigans!
When you first spot them they look like ladies waiting for the bus on the roadside. (Don't ask why 'ladies'. No idea.)




They are quite tame, but not too!
They were between summer & winter feathering.
I could not get over how the mountains looked like rising waves of land.



They crumble & move themselves to a comfortable angle of repose.
Some angles are steeper than others.


I want to close with the small rock sculptures I found. I wasn't looking for them, but I couldn't help finding them.




These also give the correct impression that the rock breaks very cubically.
I brought home a thin flat shape that I liberated from a lookout.
Here's its shape... I plan to use it.

That's all for now.