Spring into 2017

    • The Website
    • Featured Article
    • Image of the Month
    • Trips for 2017
    • Meet The Guides

    Hey Folks,

    Welcome to Ramblings, 2017. And welcome to our new website. This has been a bit of a project for some time now, and I’m SO glad to have it finally online and viewable for you all. Please take the time to look around and check it out, including some new photo galleries, video page, blog section and a whole lot more.

    We’ve tried to put a site together that works correctly across all platforms, from your phone to your 30″ monitor, and that’s not an easy task. So please, if you see any glitches or types or other errors that need adjusting, let me know. Thanks.

    "Me" becomes "We"

    Expeditions Alaska is now “we”

    One of the biggest changes of my business over the last few years is moving Expeditions Alaska from a “me” gig to a “we”.

    I began this venture in 2002 and worked, for many years, completely solo. In 2009 I did my first trip with a second guide, and over the years ended up with a few more, here and there. This past summer I had 5 other guides all running trips, and also ran a photo tour with a co-guide.

    It’s an interesting dynamic. Shifting everything from being under my own hand to having various different guides in the field at one time, managing schedules and handing over the responsibility and the enjoyment of meeting and guiding everyone to meeting and guiding a portion of you all.

    Meet The Crew

    John Calder

    Expeditions Alaska backpacking guide Johnny C

    John is a great guide and an even better friend. A backcountry skillset a mile long, and a great cook. John’s an all-rounder. He does a bit of everything. For some weird reason he plays ice hockey.

    Meet John

    Jule Harle

    Alaska guide service backpacking and kayaking guide Jule ANWR

    Jule’s worked with me since 2011. As I write this she’s building herself a cabin in Girdwood. She’s also a Yoga instructor. She’s a solid backpacker and paddler. A warm personality and a bundle of energy.

    Meet Jule

    Rhane Pfeiffer

    Expeditions Alaska guide backpacking guide packrafting guide Rhane

    Rhane does it all. Paddles, climbs, skis, hikes and bikes. Cooks up a storm and knows his way around the mountains. A great background in wilderness counseling yields a stable and settling guide. Two thumbs up.

    Meet Rhane

    Life Without Ice

    Alaska Polar Bears Climate Change

    I recently was asked by Greg Downing of Naturescapes.net to put an article together that might be of interest to the photographers there regarding polar bears. From our discussion I now have a featured article on that website about polar bears and the threat of climate change. “Life Without Ice”, an edited excerpt from my eBook, Polar Bears of Alaska.

    You can download the book here. If you don’t have a copy of the ebook, grab it. It’s free, available on both iBooks and PDF formats and part of an ongoing project on these amazing creatures. I hope you enjoy it.

    Your How To ...


    One of the things I get asked most often about on backpacking trips is navigation. How do we set out for a 10 day trip and not worry about getting lost?

    Well, of course I’ve been there before, many times for a number of the routes, and that makes things a lot easier. Alaska is big wilderness, and the size of the landscape actually works in our favor. I can eyeball most of it, most of the time.

    But fog and weather is always a factor, or maybe we haven’t been on a route in several years and the things get trickier. What then?

    Gear Reviews

    This isn’t your typical gear review. It’s more my commentary on rain gear and the failings of waterproof breathable rain gear.

    I’ve bought and worn dozens of rain jackets over the years. Literally, dozens of them. Right now on the rack beside me as I type this I can count 11 rain jackets. Eleven.

    It’s a bit ridiculous. I have everything from my old Aussie Dryzabone to my most recent Outdoor Research Goretex jacket I bought last year. Whatever your jacket, chances are good I’ve owned at least one of those.

    And none of them, I mean none of them, work like I want them to. In fact, it’s fair to say none of them work like they did when I first bought them.

    It’s been my experience that the magic of waterproof breathable technology is in the DWR (durable water repellent) coating. I don’t know what kind of black magic voodoo those manufacturers employ, but that stuff is astonishingly good.

    Until it isn’t.

    For the rest of this post see the blog post linked below.

    On the blog ...

    Hiking in rain gear Malaspina Glacier, Alaska.

    A short article about backpacking gain gear and particularly the efficacy of waterproof breathable rain jackets. In short, they don’t perform well over time. None of them.

    Wrangell Mountains, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

    Wrangell Mountains in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Hey folks, Welcome to March, 2017! A photo of my favorite view. And a view I’ve seen many, many times this winter. The Wrangell Mountains. Left to right, you’re looking at Mt Drum, Mt. Sanford, Mt Zanetti (the little “cone” shaped peak the looks like a ski-jump […]

    Aurora borealis over head, Alaska.

    Northern lights over the White Mountains Hey Folks After a couple of weeks doing little but shooting northern lights and enjoying the company of some wonderful guests I suppose it’s appropriate that I post a northern lights photo for this month’s Image of the Month. So here it is. This one was one of the […]

    Polar bear photo weight of a polar bear, Alaska.

    Large adult male polar bears can weigh over 1400lbs. Seriously? How big? We’ve all heard polar bears are the largest terrestrial carnivore, right? We’ll side-step the rather silly idea of labelling Ursus maritimus (Sea bear), a marine mammal, as a “land-based carnivore ” for the moment. Instead consider the point behind it. Polar bears are […]

    Subscribe to the Blog

    Would you like to receive blog posts via email. Why would ya wanna miss one? I don’t blog often, so I won’t spam you to death. And there’s often some fun photos or stories, as well as interesting pieces about Alaska and trips, critters and places, etc.

    Here it is!!


    This is where it all happens. Keep yourself up to date and receive access to trip discounts, gear info packets and photo eBooks. Right here.

    More Odds & Ends

    As is so often the case I’ve been occupied with other things than writing newsletters. Over the winter I’ve stayed busy, warm and skied a lot. Fun times, but a lot of office work and time spent being the computer as well. It’s never fun but it’s a big part of making this whole thing keep rolling.

    Winter here has been what winter in Alaska should be. Cold, snowy, beautiful and a lot of fun. The last few winters here have been far warmer than usual, with little snow, and that can make for a lot of freezing rain, ice and ugly conditions. Give me -20˚F and 2 feet of snow on the ground an I’m much happier than 25 above, 10 mph winds and a layer of ice across the landscape. Every. Single. Time.


    Last year one of the big changes involved moving the booking system over to a new online reservation system. After trying out a couple of different systems, I’ve settled on one that seems to give us most of what you and I need. It’s not perfect, by any means, but none of the systems really seem to fit just right.

    It’s a lot of work and an endless headache learning any new software and trying to do so while planning and booking trips for people can be terribly frustrating. Hopefully it’s smooth sailing forward from here.

    Recommendations and Tips

    Just Stuff

    * Music news: My music tip for this newsletter is the Marcus King Band. Great band, and Marcus is a super-talented young man. What a voice, and he plays guitar like nobody’s business. The self-titled MKB album on iTunes is a favorite of mine.
    * Photography: Some great images, as always in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards this last year. The winning image is exceptional
    * Books: The Wolverine Way, by Doug Chadwick. Fans of great nature writing will love it. What an astonishing creature!
    *TV/Video: Planet Earth II. Buy the season on iTunes or Amazon Prime and enjoy some phenomenal videography.


    • Backpack: The Mystery Ranch Glacier pack.
    • Tent: the new Mountain Hardwear Ghost 2 isn’t as solid as the discontinued Skyledge 2 was. A sad day.
    • Camera: Super happy this last year with my Nikon D500
    • XC skis: Skied on my Rosignol BC70s all winter.
    • Winter softshell jacket: Arc’teryx Gamma MX STILL rocks
    • Summer sleeping bag: Replacing my 20˚F bag this year with another Western Mountaineering Ultralite
    • Hiking poles: Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Pole – totally awesome!

    Expeditions Alaska
    Visit the wild