Just back in for a day or so between trips, and thought I’d post a photo from this last trip; the Coastal Brown Bear Photo Tour. So, of course, I’ll post a photo of a Harbor Seal, instead of a bear. We had a few great days with the bears, in Geographic Harbor, Kinak Bay and then went up Kukak Bay for the last day and a half, where we were able to find some super, uber tolerant Harbor Seals. It was a real blast seeing them up close and personal.
We also got to photograph some bald eagles, which was neat, as well as a couple of wary sea otters. Sea otters are ridiculously cute, but can be challenging to photograph. We saw a beautiful gray wolf in Geographic Harbor, and also saw whales on our flight over from Kodiak to the Katmai Coast. All in all, a really fun trip.
Big, big fun .. HUGE fun at the end of a recent (and very soggy) hiking trip, from the Kennicott Glacier, up hidden Creek, over the pass and down to the Lakina River. At the end of the trip, the clients flew back to McCarthy for a hot shower and dinner, while I met up with Jule (fellow guide and cook extraordinaire for our Grizzlies in the Fall Photo Tour) and 2 other folks for a packrafting adventure down the Lakina River. At high water, the river runs a solid Class II, III and a couple of III+ rapids. We bombed down the river in about 5 hours, including a couple of quick stops for bodacious snacks, bathroom breaks, etc.
Just a few moments of this made it onto my video camera, so I edited them together for this little Packrafting Trip video teaser. More info and trip details to come, but for now, enjoy the clip, and read up about Alaska Packrafting Trips – you’ll be wanting to come on a packrafting trip before you know it. Great fun stuff!
Another photo from our July sea kayaking trip to Icy Bay. After a great day paddling across the bay, hiking along the edge of the Karr Hills and taking a close look at the Yahtse Glacier, we paddled back toward camp and found Harbor seals .. lots of Harbor Seals. There are an estimated 3500 harbor seals in Icy Bay, and we saw plenty this afternoon.
It seemed like every other ice floe had a small family of seals lazing upon it, resting on the ice in the sun. Though any of them are somewhat skittish, because they’re so NOT used to human visitors, we had our share of seals that allowed us a closer look.
One interesting aspect of the wildlife ecology here is the prevalence of Harbor seals yet complete absence of orcas, a major predator of the seals. I’ve never heard of anyone, ever, seeing an Orca in Icy Bay; for some reason they just don’t come into the area. As a result, the seals are abundant, and somewhat casual, less wary than they can be elsewhere.
I shot a few video clips of the seals on the icebergs, as well as a number of still photos, as well. It really helps to have such relatively calm waters to sea kayak in when photographing, and Icy Bay is great in that regard. Even though some times its windy here, generally the water is reasonably calm and protected; great sea kayaking.
Heading off for a Brown Bear Photo Tour soon; I’ll maybe catch some more harbor seal photos on that trip, as we’ll be along the Katmai Coast. Big fun!
Welcome back! I know I might’ve missed a few months here recently; it’s been tough to get time to blog lately. This month’s image, from a recent trip Sea Kayaking in Icy Bay Trip, is one reason why I haven’t posted anything recently.
We were lucky enough to have some amazing weather this summer – 5 days in Icy Bay with a backdrop like this show what I mean. Seb and his partner Lauren flew all the way to Alaska from France to see Mt. St. Elias. I tried to point out to him here he was looking in the wrong direction; that it was right behind him!
Heading back out soon. I’ll try to post again before I go.
After a great month of March, I’m finally getting around to catch up on the blog. We had a great month, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and photographing the aurora. For the most part, the weather was fantastic, and all the trips went well.
This shot is from one awesome night we had up on the Dalton highway; Minus 24 degrees, but well worth sticking it out. We had a few quiet nights, but some really dynamic displays as well. Good times! Thanks to everyone for coming out and enduring the cold!
Image of the Month for March, 2013, is a brown bear from Hallo Bay last year on the Coastal Brown Bear Photo Tour. 2 spaces are available for the tour this year, scheduled for mid-September. Drop me a note if you’re interested.
Just editing some of my files from this past summer, and I ran across this picture from our August Iceberg to Bremner Mines trek. I shot this photo with my little Nikon pocket camera, a Nikon Coolpix L22. I started carrying a point and shoot (P&S) this summer, for the first time in I don’t know how long; too long!
It’s definitely nice to have something handy and accessible, without trying to deal with a larger SLR hanging from a strap while hiking. I generally carry my SLR or SLRs inside my backpack, stashed away where they won’t get (a) damaged and/or (b) left behind quite so easily. It’s SO easy while backpacking to stop and take a quick break, put something down, and walk off without it. That sucks when it’s a can of bear spray or a Nalgene, but it REALLY sucks when it’s something like an SLR, and insanely expensive.
So this summer I hiked with a trusty little Nikon Coolpix L22 in my shirt pocket – the perfect size for a P&S camera. I miss the image quality, of course, when I get home to view the images, but I mostly miss the functionality of the camera in the field. This could well be simply because I’m not as familiar with that camera as I should be, and so I just “point and shoot”, rather than fussing with trying to make some kind of manual controls. There were a few times when I really thought “man, I wish this camera would let me do x-y-z” – which of course I could easily have done if I’d had the SLR in my hands. Continue reading…
A backpacking blog with no post about hiking boots? What gives?
Hiking boots are one of those subjects that are SO subjective that it’s invariably a much lengthier conversation than a blog post might, or should, be. Different boots fit different people well, and different boots fit different situations differently. I can suggest what works well for me, in situation x-y-z, and that pair of boots might be completely inappropriate for you in the same situation. or, they might be completely inappropriate for me in situation a-b-c.
So it’s extremely difficult to try to write a ‘general’ idea about boots. I’ll give it a shot.
Leather vs synthetic. The biggest question most start with is “leather boots versus synthetic”. Full leather boots will typically tend to be more durable, provide a little better ankle support (though I have doubts about how much), be heavier and more expensive. If you backpack off-trail a lot, carrying a heavy load, and want a pair of boots that will last a long time, my suggestion is a leather pair of boots. But, if you hike mostly on trail, don’t carry a big heavy pack very often, and don’t mind replacing your boots more frequently, synthetic boots are often a good choice. Continue reading…
Photographers, think about heading on up to Alaska in November, 2013 and join me for the bald eagle photo tour there. It’s a weeklong trip, based out of Haines, Alaska, all accommodation and ground transport included, and we’ll spend the week shooting the world famous bald eagle congregation. Every fall, as many as 3500 bald eagles may show up to the Chilkat River area to feed on a late salmon run. While most of the rivers in Alaska are freezing over by that time, warmer ground water from a couple of nearby springs keep parts of the Chilkat and neighboring rivers open, and the bald eagles drop by for a feast.
This photo tour is also, for those so inclined, a photo workshop, where I’ll teach and discuss some techniques to help improve your photography; particularly we’ll look at wildlife photography subjects, such as tracking and shooting fast moving and flying subjects. We’ll look at in the field practices that involve trying to maximize your shooting opportunities on the ground; how to be in the right place at the right time.
The bald eagles here offer us a variety of photo opportunities, from close up headshots and portraits to action shots of bald eagles fighting and fishing, soaring against spectacular mountain backdrops and trying to create some of those grand “animal in the landscape” photos. Continue reading…