Archive for the ‘Wrangell St. Elias National Park’ Category

All things Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska

Skookum Volcano Trail

Saturday, August 21st, 2010
View from Skookum Volcano Trail.

A view from the Skookum Volcano Trail, a nice hike in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, near the old mining town of Nabesna. Please click on the thumbnail to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a quick shot from a recent hike up around Nabesna. I walked the Skookum Volcano trail – some great views out over this part of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. Fall colors are right around the corner, and up high like this, the blueberry is already turning red.

The mountains up around this pass are amazing – really some great shapes and patterns in those rocks. I need to get back up there asap and shoot it some more.

The northern side of the park receives far fewer visitors than the south side, on the McCarthy Road, though I think the dayhiking and the photography is probably better on the north side. If the weather is clear, some of the best views in the park can be found off the Nabesna Road. Fall colors, too, can be intense, almost overwhelming, in late August/early September. And, I generally see more wildlife in this section of the park than I do along the McCarthy Road, though wildlife viewing is almost always hit and miss anywhere.

Next summer I’m going to be doing a little more backpacking in the area, and will offer some newer trips in this region, particularly a few shorter, easier hikes. As well, some of those walks don’t involve bush flights in and out of the backcountry, so they’ll be quite a bit cheaper as well. Stay tuned to the website for more information on those in October.

Those are the Mentasta Mountains in the background.

Cheers

Carl

Monahan Creek, Iceberg to Bremner

Monday, August 9th, 2010
A hiker takes in the view in the Chugach Mountains, Iceberg Lake to Bremner Mines or Seven Pass route, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Charlie Sprayregen takes in the view in the Chugach Mountains, Iceberg Lake to Bremner Mines or Seven Pass route, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click the thumbnail to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a photo from our trip last week to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Charlie was gracious enough to pose for me here on this little ledge, one gorgeous morning on the Iceberg Lake to Bremner Mines trip.

We were so lucky on this trip to get some nice weather; it’s not been a fantastic summer, weather-wise, so far, yet we had more sunny days than not on our hike. Charlie and his family, from Chicago, had somewhat of a mad rush to get here, flying directly from Chicago to Anchorage to McCarthy to Iceberg Lake; including a short, mad dash thru the streets of Anchorage to replenish gear when, upon arrival in Anchorage, they learned Charlie’s backpack hadn’t made the flight, and was still in Chicago. The bedlam settled when we arrived, after many hours of travel (for Charlie and family) at Iceberg Lake, on a gorgeous sunny evening. (more…)

Image of the Month – The Goat Trail

Saturday, July 31st, 2010
Sunset over the Chitistone Valley and the University Peaks, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Sunset over the Chitistone Valley and the University Peaks, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click the thumbnail to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

And the Image of the Month for August 2010 is a photo of sunset over the University Peaks, just south of the Chitistone River. We’d backpacked down the Chitistone Canyon all day, set up camp after crossing the Goat Trail, had a GREAT dinner with superb views of Mount Bona (16 421′ high) and the University Range, and the light kept getting better and better. I’d long wanted to hike down this little creek to a plateau above the Chitistone River and shoot sunset there, and knew this would be a great opportunity to do so.

I couldn’t convince any of the hikers in our group to join for me the evening trek (2 miles one way), so I grabbed my camera gear after we’d finished dinner, and set out. Though this scene wasn’t my intended final destination, I loved the combination of clouds, deep, steep canyon walls, and the warm light hitting the distant unnamed mountain. I stopped and took a few photos before continuing on my way down to the plateau.

When shooting a scene such as this, with high contrast between the shaded depths of the steep canyon and the bright clouds and distant peaks (Mount Bona) I use either a Split Density filter or take multiple images of differing exposures and blend them together in the computer later. This image I used 2 split density filters, a 2-stop and a 3-stop. Handholding 2 filters is hard; handholding them when you don’t want them to align symmetrically is really hard. Lesson #1 – carry a Cokin filter holder.

The Goat Trail is the first route I ever hiked in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, and is always a welcome treat for me to return to. This one was a night I’ll remember for along time. I returned to our high camp at around midnight. What a fantastic evening.

Cheers

Carl

Usain Bolt in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park.

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Hey Folks,

Watch this clip, destined to become a classic, to see a brief, sudden and welcome appearance by the great Usain Bolt; Usain pops up in the video and shows his classic ‘bow and arrow’ pose, while simultaneously unveiling some gorgeous new footwear. I managed to grab a few seconds of him on video before he raced out of sight.

I was trying to grab some footage of the Chitistone Valley in heavy fog, from the “Wolverine” landing strip, when Usain appeared. I believe this is the first time he’s visited Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, indeed Alaska itself. I’m sure he’ll make another appearance or 2 before the end of this season.

Cheers

Carl

Image of the Month – Rock lake, Wrangell St. Elias

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Rock lake, sunset, Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Please click on the thumbnail to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

It’s summer time, and I don’t have much time to blog – but I’ll try to keep up with the Image of the Month. Here’s one from the north side of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Taken from Rock lake, at sunset, the light on the distant Wrangell Mountains was gorgeous.

Thanks.

Cheers

Carl.

Image of the Month – Hiking at Skolai Pass

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
Backpackers hiking the tundra at Hole in the Wall.

Hole in the Wall, near Skolai Pass, is a great place to explore. Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the thumbnail to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Photo of the Month for June, 2010, is this photo of some folks hiking up at Hole in the Wall, near Skolai Pass, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. I love the sense of scale this photo gives for the peak in the background. This is one of the peaks known as the 7 fingers, glacier-capped outcroppings towering above the tundra. Hole in the Wall is a classic old glacial formation, and a great place to walk and explore; I’ve spend many a day wandering around on the moraine, awestruck at the magnificent jagged cliff faces soaring above me.

This trip was a few years ago, and we had a grand time. The weather was, as you see here, unbeatable, and we all enjoyed the week we spent in Skolai Pass. We camped on an open ridge above the pass, before heading south to Chitistone Pass, where we camped and enjoyed the scenery. From Chitistone Pass, we ventured down to Russell Glacier, over into Chitistone Valley, and checked out the Goat Trail. Then we made out way back along the floor of Skolai Pass.

The big boulders in the foreground are called erratics; a piece of rock that differs from the size and type of rock native to the area in which it rests. They’re moved into place, carried by glacial ice , and deposited when the ice retreats. Sometimes they’re moved hundreds of miles by advancing glaciers; at Hole in the Wall, they were moved a mile or so. But a number of these large boulders technically aren’t really erratics, as they have fallen from the cliffs above. Massive, some of them are the size of a small house. The geology here is incredible.

I’m looking forward to getting back up to Skolai Pass this summer; it’s just one of “those” places that I can go back to every year and love it. It’s kinda like going home each summer. Each trip brings both new vistas and intimate views of the nooks and crannies, the secrets of Skolai. At the same time, seeing the features like Hole in the Wall and Russell Glacier again is a welcome treat. I love it.

We’ll be up at Skolai mid july this year, and I can’t WAIT!

Cheers

Carl

The Hubbard Glacier Calving into Russell Fjord.

Friday, May 7th, 2010
Hubbard Gacier calving chunks of ice into Russell Fjord, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hubbard Gacier calving chunks of ice into Russell Fjord, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the thumbnail to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a photo from a trip to southeast Alaska I took, of the Hubbard Glacier calving into Russell Fjord at Gilbert Point, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, near Yakutat. To watch a 250′ high wall of ice crash into the ocean is simply awesome. And I mean awesome like ‘inspires awe’ … absolutely jaw-dropping stuff.

The Hubbard Glacier is one of the few advancing glaciers in Alaska right now, as most are retreating under the glare of warming climate; the cycles of glaciers that calve into the sea are also dependent upon dynamics of the sea floor, as well as other complicated elements. The glaciers are often at various stages of a retreat-advance cycle, and the Hubbard is currently advancing. A decade or so ago it actually advanced across the very narrow neck of Russell Fjord, known as Gilbert Point, and blocked off the Fjord – drastically affecting the ecosystem there. The pressure built up in the Fjord eventually pushed back, and the glacier washed out. (more…)

Image of the Month | Skiing in Wrangell – St. Elias

Monday, March 1st, 2010
Backcountry skiing on the Root Glacier, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Backcountry skiing on the Root Glacier, with Stairway icefall in the background. Springtime brings melt, opening a small pool of water on the glacier's surface. Cross country skiing, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Click on the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks

Here’s our Image of the Month for March 2010. Backcountry skiing on the Root Glacier one gorgeous spring day. This little blue pool of crystal clear water was simply too nice to pass up for a photo op.

Carrying a tripod allows me to set up for photos when I’m out and about by myself. I set up the shot, and visualize where I’d like to stand to make the composition. Sometimes standing a bit further away allows the photo to be more of a scenic shot, without the person being too dominant in the frame.

This is where a digital camera really helps, being able to review the shot in the LCD, as I’m not able to guess exactly where to stand. For example, I didn’t want my head here to merge with the horizontal line at the end of the glacier – base of the mountain in the distance, so it took a couple of tries to get it right.

Normally I wouldn’t leave quite as much room for the sky, but I wanted to give the image a bit more of an expansive feeling here, with more space. I also wanted to leave plenty of room for text, if the photo were ever to be chosen for a cover shot for a magazine or story. (more…)

Backcountry Photography

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Shower Camp Camera Cover from Expeditions Alaska on Vimeo.

Hey Folks

I thought this video might be both entertaining and useful to visitors to the website. Here, Andy Seeger shows off his fashion-sense and creative ingenuity with ‘Shower Cap Hat’ – a cheap workable solution to protecting your camera gear from bad weather on backpacking trips. Backpacking is ALL about compromise; weight, bulk and space, durability, multi-use, etc … these are things to consider when packing for your trip.

Rather than carry an expensive and heavier camera rain cover, a cheap plastic shower cap fits perfectly. it’s lightweight, packable, durable, light and easily available. What’s more, as Andy says, you can even get water with it. 🙂 (more…)

Lookin’ for the Wolf – Image of the Month, Feb 2010.

Sunday, January 31st, 2010
Winter travel through the boreal forest, in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve. A man hikes on snowshoes through the snow-covered taiga, white spruce forest in winter.

Snowshoeing through the forest in search of the wolf, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

A week or 2 through the winter boreal forest hoping to find wolves is always a treat – whether the wolves show themselves or not. So far, no luck – they remain the mystery.

But what a treat it is to hear their howls, or find their soft tracks in the snow, and to know they too sift through the boreal forest. To enter the winter boreal forest is to enter the realm of the wolf – the home of Canis lupus. Few creatures can quite so vividly engage our mind and spirit like the wolf – so rarely even seen, yet so enmeshed in our cultural histories and stories.

I’ve walked I don’t know how many miles and waited hours, days, hoping for a glimpse, (more…)

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Owner and guide Carl Donohue.

 

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