Archive for the ‘Trip Tales’ Category

Reports, accounts, lies, mistruths and ramblings about ambling and rambling.

Favorite Photos 2016

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

Hey Folks,

It’s that time of the year again. Wrapping up image editing and putting together a quick gallery of photos from the year for you. These are mostly from different photo tours we ran this year. (more…)

The Lost Coast Hike

Thursday, November 6th, 2014
The Lost Coast in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, with Mt Cook and the Saint Elias Range rising in the background.

The Lost Coast in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, with Mt Cook and the Saint Elias Range rising in the background. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks

Now that summer and fall has wound down some, I’ve got a little time to catch up on image processing and maybe blogging as well! We’ll see how far we get with that.

One of the trips I was really looking forward to this summer was a hike along the coast, the southern reaches of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. I’d hiked part of this area previously, some of it a couple of times, but I’d never hiked the eastern section, below the Malaspina Forelands. So it was a great experience to finally get down to this area and walk the coastline, completing what is really a cool walk.

We did the hike as an exploratory trek this year, and took a bit longer for the the hike than I normally might, as we wanted to explore a few things along the way, look for the best campsites, and so on.

Packrafts are a necessity along this route; some of the rivers that have to be crossed would be foolish to cross without a packraft, unless at super low water. (more…)

Backpacking Bremner Mines to Tebay Lakes, Wrangell St. Elias National Park

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
A hiker rests on a rock and looks out over the Little Bremner, Bremner and Copper River valleys. The Chugach Mountains are something else! Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

John rests on a rock and looks out over the Little Bremner, Bremner and Copper River valleys. The Chugach Mountains are something else! Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey folks,

Here’s an image I took of a guest one morning on our Bremner – Tebay Trek this August. John was sitting quietly before breakfast, on this rock by his tent, and I had grabbed my camera to shoot some landscapes when I saw him here.

The fog in the valley below was amazing; so thick it looked like you could walk across it. Then as silently as it had appeared before dawn, it simply vanished and the entire valley scene opened up. We had a grand, but tough, day’s hike ahead of us, and ended up doing in one day most of what I would typically do here in 2 days.

This is a tough hike, and I don’t recommend it to people lightly; a guide from another outfitter leading his clients made it about  3 days into the hike and turned around, as he felt they weren’t going to make it out in the allotted time. It definitely helps to know the area better, and avoid the brush and the gnar.

It also helps to have such grand weather. This trek has always been good to me, weather wise, so far I don’t think I’ve had anything burlier than a hail storm the day we flew in, and a light rain/snow the next morning. Other than that, I’ve always had good weather here.

For strong intermediate to advanced  backpackers, for sure. And definitely give yourself a good 10 days on this route. It’s a “bit of a mission”, as my friend Gabby from New Zealand would say. 🙂

Cheers

Carl

Trip of the year – Malaspina Glacier Traverse

Monday, December 31st, 2012
Traversing the Malaspina Glacier, Wrangell St. Elias National Park.

Jodee steps across a crevasse on the Malaspine Glacier, with 18 008′ tall Mt. St. Elias peaking thru the clouds in the background. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

What better way to celebrate the new year than a quick tip of the hat to Expeditions Alaska’s trip of the year for 2012? The winner, for me, was the Malaspina Glacier traverse we did in August. 12 awesome days on the southern coastal edge of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, I led a group of 5 hardy adventurers over the largest piedmont glacier* in North America, down to the beach, and along the coast to our pickup place.

A sketchy start, as our backcountry bush pilot informed us, right before we departed, that we wouldn’t be able to fly to our intended destination in the Samovar Hills. The huge snowfall we’d had over the previous winter hadn’t yet melted out enough to land safely at the remote backcountry strip. (more…)

Carrying a load

Saturday, November 12th, 2011
Hig, Katmai, Erin and Lituya, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hig (carrying Katmai) and Erin (carrying Lituya) walk along the shore of a small lake at the edge of the Malaspina Glacier, looking north toward Mt. St. Elias and the Saint Elias Mountain Range.Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Here’s another shot from the trip recently down along the coastline. This photo was one of my first days on the hike with hig and Erin, and their 2 children Katmai (wearing his “Prince-pants”, and carried here by Hig, on the left) and Lituya (whom Erin is carrying). What a treat it was to be invited to join this great family on their adventure! So, on this particular morning, we wanted to go and explore the edges of the Malaspina Glacier, and enjoyed a gorgeous morning hike up over the moraine and out on to the ice. The farther reaches of the glacier provided spectacular views of nearby Mt. St. Elias (pictured) and the Saint Elias Mountain Range, and the amazingly expansive view over the Malaspina. Incredible place.

It was really cool to hike with Erin and Hig, both accomplished backcountry travelers, but particularly to do so and accompany them with their 2 young children. Katmai is nearly 3, and Lituya is about 8 months old. Toddlers like this are always fascinating, but watching such young kids experience the wilderness was great fun.

What struck me most, I suppose, was the thought of how great it is that 2 young parents are here spending 24 hours a day with their children. Not too many parents do I know, or know of, ever do something like this, and it was really fun to observe. Almost every waking moment of their day Erin and//or Hig engaged their children, for 2 months. The kids had a blast, especially young Katmai, who soaked up the beach, the mountains, the views, the dirt, my peanut butter, any chocolate within a half mile, and the sunshine whenever he could. (more…)

Backpacking Wrangell – St. Elias’ coastline

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
Backpacking on the coast, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Setting out for a month long backpack along the coastline of Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Wow; what a cool trip this last one was. A month along the coastline and borders of the Malaspina Glacier in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park’s southeastern reaches.

This photo is my first night on the beach, right after the air taxi departed, I shouldered the heavy pack, posed for an image, and set off down the beach to find a campsite. Dark comes quickly this time of year in Alaska.

I caught up with friends Erin and Hig from Ground Truth Trekking, and their 2 kids Katmai and Lituya, the following afternoon. I spent most of the rest of my trip with them, and then the last 10 days or so in the Icy Bay area, trying to get a nice sunset photo of Mt. St. Elias from that area. Seemed like things were still getting going when before I knew it, the month was over and I had to fly back to the city. Time flies, eh? (more…)

Grizzly bear photo tour

Friday, October 7th, 2011
Brown bear standing, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Brown bear, Ursus arctos, walking upright down Brooks Lake near the footbridge, first light of a cool, foggy morning. Brown bear, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Just back from a fantastic 2 weeks in Katmai National Park on our Grizzly Bears in the Fall Photo Tour. What a great way to wind up the season!

This year we had a challenging but rewarding trip; there were definitely fewer bears than in some recent years (still more than 45 bears along the river), but some great weather, light and conditions helped us to all make some nice images.

This photo I have to say a big thank you to one of the folks on week #2, Chris, a Brit now living in San Diego. I was loaded down with my 500mm and D300s on my tripod, and my D700 and 70-300m over my shoulder. We had moved off the river a little to give a passing bear some room, when this scene appeared behind us. Trying to stumble thru 4′ tall grass, hummocks and tussocks and wet marsh without busting my tail was a bit of a mission, and Chris kindly offered to hold my 500mm for me, so I could step over the ground easier and snag a shot before it was too late. Thanks Chris, I appreciate it. (more…)

Grizzly Bear Photo Tour

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011
4 grizzly bear cubs, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

4 grizzly bear (brown bear, Ursus arctos) cubs sit in the forest, and await there mother's return. Grizzly bear cubs, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Heading off for 2 weeks in Katmai National Park for the grizzly bear fall photo tour. Hopefully we’ll run into these 4 youngsters again, though it’d be most surprising if all 4 cubs made it through last winter; I sure hope so, but the ways of the wild aren’t always aligned with our hopes. Their mom turned herself inside out last fall feeding these hungry bear cubs, so we’ll see how things went for them.

See you folks back in October.

Cheers

Carl

Hiking on the Russell Glacier

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Hiker on Russell Glacier, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hiking on the Russell Glacier, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. To view a larger version of this image, please click on the photo above.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a quick snapshot from the recent trip we did to Skolai Pass; Justin hiking on the Russell Glacier on a gorgeous afternoon in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. This was actually the first time I’ve ventured out on to this particular glacier; good times indeed.

An hour or so later, we saw a wolf heading up the valley. That’s a great day!

Cheers

Carl

Trip to Wolverine

Monday, July 18th, 2011
Nimble Bob hiking the Nizina Glacier, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Nimble Bob hiking on the Nizina Glacier, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Please click the thumbnail to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

I just had the good fortune to spend a week with a fellow whose company I enjoy very much, Bob S, from California. Bob’s been out on 4 trips with me now, 2 photo tours to Skolai Pass, 2 weeks in Katmai photographing grizzly bears and now a trip to Wolverine and the Nizina Glacier in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. Thanks Bob for your fantastic company!

The first trip Bob made with me was on what became a somewhat infamous Skolai Pass Photo Tour, where we basically hunkered down under a tarp for the bulk of the week avoiding the sleet and wind and rain that hammered Alaska most of that summer. Yikes!

So I was more than amazed when Bob contacted me about a redo the following year. A hardy soul indeed, so we ventured back to Skolai Pass, where we had a grand time, some great light, and a memorable morning photographing a friendly grizzly bear in the mountains. Good times. The following year Bob comes back again, for 2 weeks in Katmai photographing the great coastal brown bears. We had a fantastic time, and some great photography opportunities.

This year we did a mixed trip, some time down “low” in the valley floor, hiking and photographing the Nizina Glacier and surrounding area, and then made our way up to Wolverine, a high alpine ridge above the Chitistone Valley, where we walked and talked and took pictures in the mountains. Good stuff.

Next year Bob aims to go to Africa for a photo tour, so anyone with any recommendations for a great trip to shoot wildlife in Africa, please get in contact.

Cheers

Carl

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Owner and guide Carl Donohue.

 

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