The alpine tundra was spongy beneath my feet and rose up in clumps and mounds from the permafrost action. Occasionally I had to maneuver over or around dwarf birch bushes. I pulled the hood of my windbreaker over my fleece cap to block the chilly breeze against my neck. A thick fog was moving across the tundra. It was 7 a.m. and we were searching for longspurs that were preparing to nest.
One of the only accessible places to see Smith’s Longspurs in breeding plumage is near milepost 13 on the Denali Highway. Our trip leader Mark, as well as Barbara Jean, had ventured out on the tundra first to scout the bird’s location, and then whispered into the two-way radio for us to join them.