The back country bus ride through Denali National Park is not for the faint of heart. Much of it is on a one-lane road cut into the steep mountainside – no shoulder and it appeared that there were regular rock slides where the road could just slip away. But the scenery was spectacular, and we saw lots of wildlife: 20 caribou, 12 grizzly bears, 9 dall sheep, 1 huge bull moose, 1 fox, 1 hoary marmot and lots of snowshoe rabbits. Following a lunch stop at Denali back Country Lodge, we donned boots and grabbed a pan and took a turn at panning for gold. I slipped my gold ring into the pan while Alex wasn’t looking and let her find some real gold much to the amusement of some Japanese tourists. The bus driver / tour guide told us stories about the animals, the history, the weather, the geology and the people of the area on our 12 hour excursion.