It has been raining everyday. Occasionally the sun comes out for a short period of time but it is the exception, definitely not the rule so far this month. When the sun does come out in this weather it is tremendously dramatic. The mountain sides were waiting patiently to catch the light…and so was I.
The sunsets are incredible.
One of my favorite places to “just be” in all of Alaska.
The ice fog often flows and ebbs throughout the day and as the light catches here and there on the frosted branches the fog really contributes to the atmosphere of the scene. The sun just really arcs across the sky this time of year, staying very low so the landscape gets painted with the most beautiful light.
I may still be cold but after turning the corner on the solstice we are gaining light very rapidly. This of course means some great winter sports opportunities are priming up…now if it would just get back to minus twenty…
It truly is a winter wonderland here in Alaska more so than anywhere I have ever been. The snow sparkles in the low light, the ice fog plants crystals everywhere, the arctic temperatures give the air a real crisp snap to it. On a mid afternoon with no wind the silence is golden and views are incredible.
I was up for sunrise in Deadhorse last week. That’s not too hard, it’s coming up around 8:00 am or so now. The days are getting much shorter. Hey is that snow? Umm, yep. It’s winter up here. Wasn’t too cold though, high 20s right now. The arctic foxes are in whiteout and I thought the vast majority of birds had left. Caught some scoters in the slush though, they looked like they were having fun. The Arctic ocean is freezing up quickly.
We traversed the Denali Highway and then headed south to Valdez. We had to make a double back due to some tire trouble but that’s life, not a big deal. Heads up though when you come here, it IS remote anywhere outside of Anchorage. Cell outages.. for entire sections of trips, maintenance support is going to be a long tow if that is necessary. Be prepared by servicing your vehicle. One thing though, you will get help from passerby’s. Everybody knows they wouldn’t want to be stranded out there either.
Valdez was amazing and a total change of scenery. Again we were hitting peak colors on the way down. The rain and fog added to the drama and made for some excellent photography. The scenery was so good that it took us 5.5 hours to go 105 miles. We obviously don’t “make good time” on the road….
By the way, did I mention that the fall colors are out? Couldn’t remember…
Hello everyone, just got back from a whirlwind fall colors tour up here in the Great Land. Yes, we start early up here, for all you southerners, but we get it good too. We definitely hit the peak on our trip as we headed back across the Denali Highway, down the Richardson, south to Valdez, and back across the Glenn Highway to home. Wow. It was incredible. Tons and tons of images to sort through, tons of film to develop (MF and LF) and I finally “saw” what I need to do on Sheep Mountain. That has been working on me for some time. I still have a lot of work to do before closing out this season but it should be fun…
McLaren Summit at 4086 feet is not the highest mountain pass I have ever driven up (short by almost 10 thousand feet) but the view, well it speaks for itself. Only Atigan Pass in Alaska is higher. The valley below McLaren is absolutely beautiful, the lazy Susitna River in the evening light makes a slivery highway running towards the distant Alaska Range peaks. The rain was out on this late evening, but really, it it only served up the drama instead of damping the mood.
I headed up the Reed Lakes Trail for some scouting and a good training hike and got into some great scenery. The sun was just popping up behind these peaks in the Talkeetna’s and the slow, low clouds were rolling off the hill sides. Great morning hike to the lower lake and then the usual slide out. If you have hiked in Alaska you know what I mean, if not, well let’s just say there is nothing quite like steep, muddy, slickery Alaskan hillsides. Virtually impossible for me to keep the shiny side up but worth it every time nonetheless.
Here in Alaska the Common Blue Bell is a little later getting started than elsewhere but comes on strong. Although the name identifies it as a common plant, its beauty is rather uncommon in my opinion. Other parts of the country have seen this little beauty come and go in May but here in Alaska we are just getting going around the end of June. This set is sharing some time with a Corn Lilly in the Hatcher Pass area, a popular place outside of Anchorage for recreating, blue berry picking, and wildflower viewing.
According to paper work filed with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources J.B. Hatcher is credited with the discovery of the Gold Mint group of veins in the Hatcher Pass area. Two veins, an upper and lower were located and the upper was worked by Hatcher for a time. Somewhere along the way Hatcher sold out to Mr. Doyle of the Doyle Mining group and he proceed to build a stamp mill and tram lines to both the upper tunnel and the lower tunnel for processing. The lower vein is reported to have yielded $50 to $100 per ton in gold (~ 1910). The mines went idle again in 1931 following the stock market crash until May in 1938 as America was pulling herself out of the Great Depression. Mr. Fred Johnson resumed operations in the Gold Mint group with the hope of work and the gleam of gold in his eye. With three aerial trams utilizing five hundred pound buckets on up to 1800 feet of cable, a good working crusher with 10×12 inch jaws, and a 54 inch pelton water wheel generating power he went to work on the lower vein. The camp consisted of a bunk house, cook house and other small buildings that were considered in good repair.
Today, you cannot find any of these items in the Valley below the Mints, but you can find solitude, golden sunsets, roaring falls, and alpine lakes and tarns. Oh, and some pretty decent climbing is rumored to be in the area….
I headed out into the Talkeetnas’ to scout some photographic locations and I think I may have found some. The weather has been hot and dry and the hike in was a boiler but by the time I got up top some minor thunderstorms had moved and it started to rain. No big deal, set up the tent wait it out. After the weather several of these were out to play. This lasted for about an hour before I was smack in the middle of a REAL thunderstorm right on top of me that lasted for about an hour. No harm no foul, but that lighting was, um, really, really close…
The Denali Highway is about 135 miles long and can be accessed from either the Parks Highway in Cantwell or via the Richardson Highway at Paxson. It turns out that either way is within 50 miles of being the same distance from Anchorage, it all depends on where you want to start. We started at the Tangle Lakes end and worked our way over to the Cantwell side. The road is mostly good and can be driven by a car; the recommended maximum speed is 30 mph without another vehicle in your view.
That’s to keep you from running off the road while gawking.
The Denali Highway was completed in 1957 to serve as the access route to the Denali National Park. The route catered to the motorists who arrived from the south via the Alaskan Highway as a straight path route to the Park. The popular automobile tourists of the post WWII era were the target users; however the Alaskan Highway and the Denali Highway were not paved and subject to harsh conditions and made for a demanding trip. In 1972 the famously paved Parks Highway was completed to provide “civilized” motor access to the Park and for this highway Anchorage was the starting point; air travel had changed how people vacationed to the great state.
My what you all are missing…
Wow! The Denali Highway is amazing. Between going up the Richardson Highway and traveling the length of the Denali Highway about 3 times we had so much mind boggling scenery it was eye candy overload. Absolutely stunning. I had high expectations due to the rumblings I had heard and I can honestly say all were exceeded. Put it on your list.
I seem to always struggle with the season between Winter and Spring. I guess it is not a season, but the couple of weeks of it sure make it seem so. This, we will call it a “shoulder” season, is a time of what I tend to want to call…..ugliness. The snow is dirty and rotten, the trees are bare and broken, the garbage is out all over, the junk in the yard is exposed, ugh. So what’s a photographer to do? I typically play catch up on my film development and bury myself in maps waiting for some “good weather” to get things going again. Unfortunately I always seem to slip past that two week period of spring where the leaves have just started budding and they catch the light in the most amazing ways. Backlit, freshly sprouted leaves are some of the most intriguing eye candy and I seem to get so busy on inside projects that I miss it. Well, here’s to not missing it this year. In the mean time had to make an run up the Glenn to escape the “tweener” time. I must say I enjoyed the ride…
Crazy day shooting yesterday. Wind was all kicked up and keeping everything down on the ground but the ash. We saw more eagles on the ground than I have ever seen. I watched one for over a half hour sway back and forth in some wicked gusts; I think it was sleeping, or trying to. It never did move so I moved on. The ash was getting kicked up too (Redoubt) and smelling acrid, but hey it’s all good. Snowed last night and that laid it down. Anyway got a few pics in, I liked these rail cars sitting out in the Valley. The railroad is doing some work out on the Knik River Bridge and these cars were sitting for the weekend.
We got a light dusting during the night of the ash cloud that came from the late Saturday afternoon eruption but it turned out to not be too onerous. The snow was dirty but mostly just a trace.
Owwwwwling: Spent Sunday at The Eagle River Nature Center owling. Saturday I located a Great Horned Owl and I wanted to follow up with an attempt to find him/her in the daytime. It had snowed a couple of inches by the time we got there so it was beautiful. Hard to keep the dogs reeled in too with all of the foreign, uuuumm, smells. It wasn’t toooo cold, about 20 F.
The owls are out right now hooting for mates which makes it a little easier to find them. The GH I spotted was sitting silently on a branch and then started calling after I started making a racket with my camera (it was my first GH). So I got off a couple of shots on it but they were bad because the light was so very low, I started banging around with my tripod like a rookie and I’ll be darned if that owl didn’t turn around to me and tell me to shut up. I mean if he had actually said the words it wouldn’t have been more clear than him looking me right in the eye, leaning in, thrusting head out towards me and giving a scolding HOOOOO,……..HOOOOOO! I froze like a little boy and then started laughing, couldn’t help myself and with a disgusted look over his shoulder the wise old owl lit out. He came off his perch and dropped down right in front of me and I could not hear the wind in his wings, amazing. I would hate to be a critter having to watch out for those guys.