Archive for the ‘Parks’ Category

Alaska National Parks, photos and blogs about various parks in Alaska, including wildlife refuges, monuments, forests, places.

Camping on the Malaspina Glacier

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
Camping on the Malaspina Glacier

Our kitchen setup on the Malaspina Glacier, one gorgeous evening. Last night on the ice before we crossed the moraine and left the ice. The night after this we were camped on the beach. For a larger version of this photo, click the image above.

Hey Folks

This past August, we just did an EPIC traverse across the Malaspina Glacier. Our original plan had been to fly from Yakutat to the Samovar Hills, and hike south. Due to the insane amount of snow in the area last winter (Yakutat got 350-360 inches), we weren’t able to land at the strip we’d hoped to fly into. A last minute change of plan meant flying to Kageet Point, Icy Bay, and hiking east from there, before picking up the original route, and following it south to the coastline, then east again to our intended pickup spot. This added about 35-40 miles to our route, but with an adventurous and experienced group of folks, it was worth it.

We spent 5 of the 9 nights on the ice of the Malaspina Glacier; the Malaspina is the size of Rhode Island, over 40 miles and nearly 30 miles long. Contrary to what wikipedia might tell you about the glacier, it DOES reach the coast, and so should rightfully be called a tidewater glacier, not a piedmont glacier. We packrafted around the lagoon the ice calves into on the beach, and it’s most definitely coastal.

Camping on ice has its challenges. Finding a nice flat spot can be tough, but especially finding a nice flat spot with enough rocks around to use for holding the tent/tarp in place. Sometimes we’d find wonderful, long flat stretches of ice, perfect for tentsites, but not a rock in sight. You can’t drive tent stakes into ice (unless you carry ice screws, of course -major overkill for a tent). But usually it didn’t take too long to find a good spot.

Secondly, insulation. A regular sleeping pad just doesn’t cut it. I used an Exped Downmat 7 UL, and it was great. Warm, comfortable, and not too heavy. Other choices include using 2 pads, one hard-cell foam pad like a z-rest or similar underneath an inflatable Neo Air or thermarest pad. Sergei used the Exped Downmat 9, which was easily the best (most comfortable and warm) choice. A deflated packraft under the tent all offered some protection from the ice underneath.

Overall, it was a grand trip. The weather wasn’t too bad at all, which made a great difference. Camping on an expanse of ice like that for a week, with no real wind or rain to deal with, made the trip a lot of fun. A great group of folks, 4 of which have now done 4 or more different backpacking trips with me, and some world class adventure. Good, good times.

Cheers

Carl

Image of the Month: Aug/Sept 2012 – Mt. St. Elias

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
Mt. St. Elias, viewed through the door of my tent, camped on the Malaspina Glacier, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Mt. St. Elias, viewed through the door of my tent, camped on the Malaspina Glacier, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Apologies for missing a few posts here over the summer. It’s been a busy one, and I haven’t had much time keep up with the blog. So here’s a view from my summerhome. The Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2.1, camped on the Malaspina Glacier, looking through the door at Mt. St. Elias.

From our recent exploratory hike, from Icy Bay to the Malaspina Forelands, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. Awesome walk.

Cheers

Carl

Image of the Month – Breeding Brown Bears

Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Brown bears (Ursus arctos) breeding (or mating) at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Brown bears (Ursus arctos) breeding (or mating) at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. To view a larger version of this photo, click on the image above.

Hey Folks,

Image of the month for 2012 is this photo of a breeding brown bear pair at Hallo Bay, katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, on the coastal brown bear photo tour last week. It was an amazing trip, with some great photo opportunities, perhaps the highlight of which was this breeding pair we found at Hallo Bay.

Twice we were able to watch and photograph this behavior, which was definitely a rare opportunity.

Females will often breed with more than one male during the short (2 month) breeding or mating season. We watched minutes earlier as this sow rejected the advances of another, much larger male, who then chased this male away, then himself walked off up the bay. This smaller male returned, and bred with the sow for 15-20 minutes.

The larger male then returned, and this guy left. The larger male hung around the sow for another hour or so, but didn’t have the good fortune of this guy, that we saw.

Cheers

Carl

Brown bear photo – Hallo Bay

Friday, June 29th, 2012
An adult brown bear (Ursus arctos) resting on driftwood near the beach at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

An adult brown bear (Ursus arctos) resting on driftwood near the beach at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Just returned from a trip over to Katmai National Park, where we photographed brown bears at Hallo Bay and Kukak Bay; we were super lucky to get some great light, great bears, and some really cool photo opportunities. This young bear was hanging around a pile of driftwood in Hallo Bay, and the rich greens of the sedge grasses beyond made a nice soft background.

It took a little bit of work to scramble around over these logs and whatnot, carrying over 20lbs of camera gear, to get in a good position for photography, but I think it was well worth it.

Oftentimes making the effort to move and get in position is the real difference between making a photo, and making the photo you want. It could be the direction of light, the background, the angle of view, proximity to the subject, or a combination of countless other variables that really makes the difference.

It’s far too easy to hike a bit, set up a tripod, point the camera at a subject, then try to zoom in or out, without moving and improving the image. The best advice I might offer is to continually be looking for ways to improve the image you see through the viewfinder.

Sometimes it’s simply not possible or practical to change it much; safety or disturbing the subject, or  other photographers in the area all might restrict where we set up and how much we move. But keep your eyes posted around you, and look for ways to improve your image simply by moving your position. You’ll be glad you did.

Cheers

Carl

Fat Babies Have No Pride

Monday, June 18th, 2012

“Fat Babies Have No Pride .. and that’s OK, who needs pride?” … Lyric by Lyle Lovett.

Hey Folks,

Heading out in a day or 2 for a week of photography, so I thought I’d post this one of a porky little grizzly bear cub, fat and ready for hibernation. I’m a big fan of Lyle Lovett, and this photo seemed like the perfect match for such a great lyric.

Have a good week, everyone, back in July.

Cheers

Carl

Hiking Gates Of The Arctic National Park

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
Camping in the boreal forest in the Brooks Range, near the Arrigetch peaks. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Camping in the boreal forest in the Brooks Range, near the Arrigetch peaks. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Well, it’s well and truly spring here in Alaska, and the summer/fall hiking season right around the corner. So for anyone heading north this summer, this page might be of interest to you. Gates of the Arctic National Park is one of the less visited national parks in the state, which makes it a great place to explore and “get away”. Miles upon miles of mountain wilderness, boreal forest and alpine tundra make it a diverse and fascinating hiking region.

At the same time, it’s also a challenging expedition. Logistics for getting there, getting ‘in’ to the park, hiking across muskeg, dealing with mosquitoes, bears, rivers, and trailess terrain can be intimidating. So let’s look at a few options you might want to consider.

Getting to Gates of the Arctic

You’re options for hiking in Gates of the Arctic National Park, for most folks, start with Fairbanks. You want to head north, either up the Dalton highway (Haul Rd), or fly. If you fly, my recommendation is to fly directly to Bettles; you can catch a regularly scheduled charter flight, so it’s not super-expensive like a charter flight can be. If you take the Dalton, either ride up to Coldfoot/Wiseman, or stop at Prospect Creek (maybe 75 miles south of Coldfoot). You can fly from Prospect Creek landing strip in to Bettles (schedule with your air taxi well before leaving Fairbanks, you can’t schedule this on arrival,as there is no one there). If you go all the way up to Coldfoot, you can  hook up with an air taxi service there and fly in to the backcountry.

There is a Park Service Visitor Center there in Coldfoot where you can get some more information; but don’t expect to get a lot of trail beta there. Gather that well before you start your trip. Typically, the folks in the VC aren’t going to be able to offer you a lot of hiking information for Gates of the Arctic National Park. You’ll need to check in though, and either pick up or show them your Bear Resistant Food Canister (BRFCs are requisite for hiking/backpacking in Gates of the Arctic National Park). (more…)

Image of the Month: Dawn in the Wrangell Mountains

Saturday, April 7th, 2012
The Wrangell Mountains dawn, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

The Wrangell mountains, near Nabesna, catch the first rays of the day. Sunrise near Jack Creek, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Welcome to Expeditions Alaska, the new name for my business, previously Alaskan Alpine Treks. I’ve thought for a long time now about changing the name, so here it is. I’ve still got a few things to tweak over the coming weeks, so if you run across any glitches, please let me know.

This image was taken early one morning on the recent snowshoe/photography trip we took to Wrangell  – St. Elias National Park. The folks who were drawn for the trip, Paul, Doug, Ryan and Jim were great fun, and it was really nice to have such a good troop of folks along.

We were treated to some awesome weather the whole time, which made the trip an easy time, for sure. Sunny skies and very little wind can make March a good time in Alaska.

We snowshoed, no skiing, as the group preferred to hike and photograph rather than ski around. I’ll try to post some more images from the trip soon enough. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this one from one  great morning out near Nabesna.

Oh yes, one more thing to add; I’ll throw up this photo in honor of Anchorage breaking its own record for most snow in a winter. Happened today – Wax ’em up!

Cheers

Carl

Expeditions Alaska

Wrangell – St. Elias Winter Trip

Saturday, March 17th, 2012
Dave and Bob enjoying the afternoon view of the Wrangell Mountains, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Dave and Bob enjoying the afternoon view of the Wrangell Mountains, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Just had 2 great trips, with friends Dave and Bob , followed by an aurora borealis photo tour as well. I’m packing now for a week long trip over to ‘the park’ with Ryan, Doug, Jim and Paul, for the free trip we put together over the winter. It should be a blast, and hopefully we get some days like this one here.

Cheers

Carl

Image of the Month: March Madness

Thursday, March 1st, 2012
Mount Sanford and the Copper River Basin, seen from the Mentasta Mountains, winter, boreal forest, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Mount Sanford and the Copper River Basin, seen from the Mentasta Mountains, winter, boreal forest, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

It’s here already; March Madness has arrived. a week in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, a week in central and northern Alaska for the aurora borealis, a week back in Wrangell – St. Elias, and another week touring around skiing. Should be a big one.

Much like Mt. Sanford here. They don’t come too much grander than this mountain. I’ll continue to be offline a bit . then .. I have some HUGE news. See ya in April

Cheers

Carl

Image of the Month: February 2012

Monday, February 6th, 2012
Jenny Creek, near the Savage River, in winter, remains free of ice and flowing, even at minus 40degree F temperatures. Denali National Park and Preserve is a winter wonderland in January, fresh snow and hoar ice blankets the land. Mt. Margaret, Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Jenny Creek, near the Savage River, in winter, remains free of ice and flowing, even at minus 40degree F temperatures. Denali National Park and Preserve is a winter wonderland in January, fresh snow and hoar ice blankets the land. Mt. Margaret, Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

From my trip to Denali National Park and preserve over the New Year, here’s Mt. Margaret and Jenny Creek, near the Savage River.

Not too many people get to see Denali like this, so it was a real treat to spend some time there. Wonderful trip.

Here’s to a great year.

Cheers

Carl

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Owner and guide Carl Donohue.

 

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