What’s a good daily mileage for an Alaska backpacking trip?

September 30th, 2021 by Carl D
Backpacking distances in Alaska, how far, how hard. Lake Clark National Park backpacking trip, Alaska.
How far = how hard.

Hey Folks,

There is no generic answer to this most-frequently asked question for Alaska backpacking trips. Obviously your fitness, your pack weight, your group, etc, all heavily impact the distance you’ll cover each day. More than that, the terrain itself will determine how far and how fast you travel.

Not just the gradient and uphill/downhill stuff. Those things clearly are important. However, here in Alaska, the most common determinant, and most profound one, is the terrain itself. The footing. What are you walking over? What are you walking THROUGH? Heavy, dense alder will slow you down way, way way more than you imagine. Add thickets of Devil’s Club inside that and you’ll be moving very slowly. You might make 3/4mile an hour. Maybe. Even on flat terrain.

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How big does my backpack need to be?

September 20th, 2021 by Carl D
Backpacking trip in gates of the arctic national park Alaska.
Rachel T backpacking Gates of the Arctic, summer 2021.

Hey Folks

One of the questions we invariably get for backpacking trips is “what size backpack do I need?” It’s one of those both critical questions to ask and also an impossible question to answer. I’ll try to explain why below.

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Brown bears fighting – IOM Sep 2021

September 3rd, 2021 by Carl D
Brown bear males fighting Hallo bay, Katmai National Park.
Brown bear males fighting Hallo bay, Katmai National Park.

Hey Folks

From our Alaska Brown Bears and Coastal Wildlife Photo Tour in July this summer. We were super blessed with some amazing weather for the duration of the trip, and some really, really great bear photography experiences.

From our time in Kukak Bay photographing various different bears on a whale carcass to great experiences with a couple of different sows and spring cubs (both triplets and quadruplets), the highlight was definitely this evening with excellent moments watching brown bears chasing salmon, bears fighting and some simply gorgeous light. Good times.

Hallo Bay can be such a golden place. Spectacular location, amazing bears, it can provide super nice light and some truly special moments for photographers and nature lovers.

We had ventured out to the water towards the late evening, after some nice hours on the grass flats with a sow and her 4 cubs. The tide was going out, fish running in, and right after we made our way to the beach, the bears started coming out.

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Mt Jarvis and Copper Glacier – IOM, Aug 2021

July 21st, 2021 by Carl D
Mt Jarvis and Copper Glacier, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.
The north face of Jarvis

Hey Folks

Here’s an image from a new trip we ran this past month. Looking up the Copper Glacier at the North face of Mount Jarvis, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

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Polar bear cub in snow – IOM June 2021

June 1st, 2021 by Carl D
Curious polar bear cub in snow. ANWR, Alaska.
Curious polar bear cub in snow.

Hey Folks,

June is here so time for another image of the month. This one from a few years ago. We had a great time photographing this young polar bear cub. He was very curious, far more so than his sibling and always gave us some attention. Great for photography. And a nice cover of fresh snow doesn’t hurt either!

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Backpack the Malaspina Glacier

May 11th, 2021 by Carl D
The Lost Coast on our Malaspina Glacier trek

Hey Folks,

Super stoked to head back down to the Malaspina Glacier this fall. Rhane and myself are going to be leading this adventure. Sept 7 – 17. See the link above for details, it’s all there, but ….

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Brown bear fishing – IOM, May 2021

May 1st, 2021 by Carl D
Brown bear fishing for Sockeye Salmon, Katmai National Park, Alaska.
Brown bear fishing for Sockeye Salmon, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Back to posting photos of the month! What better way to start back than a shot of this awesomely cool brown bear about to destroy a spawning Sockeye salmon in Katmai National Park? This image from our Bears of Summer photo tour a couple years ago.

You can see how much the technique is “the paw”. Pretty cool. you can also see just how the thick the water is with salmon here. All that deep red in the foreground is salmon.

Can’t wait to get back here.



Alaska Northern Lights Tours

April 20th, 2021 by Carl D
Alaska northern lights photo tour
Photographing the northern lights, March, Alaska

Hey Folks,

We’re trying to get back into full swing. We’re scheduling our March Alaska northern lights photo tour for 2022. March is a fun time for the northern lights. It’s still “winter” in Alaska, and that means we have a good possibility of some nice wintery landscape foregrounds, long dark skies and fewer people. But it’s not mid-January, so the weather’s a bit warmer and life under the Alaska night time skies a little easier.

March is also the time of our vernal equinox, when day length and night length are approximately the same. For some reason, the equinoxes seem to yield the best northern lights activity. Nobody seems to know why this is so, just that it is so. it’s our favorite Alaska secret (that and smoked salmon). It’ll be an awesome aurora fest for the eyes.

I didn’t get to Fairbanks this spring, and I’m looking forward to returning in 2022 to photograph the northern lights. Wanna join me? We’re setting 2-3 weeks of dates, and it should be a good time for all. The auroral activity seems to be returning towards a peak, so hopefully the displays in Alaska will be excellent. This past month they were as good as ever. Next year hopefully even better.

If you’re new to photographing the northern lights, no problem. That’s what I’m for. I’ll help you with your knowledge and skills to make these photos. And if you don’t have it, this primer ebook is a great start for learning what it takes.

Download the ebook, gear up, make some plans and join us for a fun Alaska northern lights photo trip this coming spring.

And if you’d rather come in the Fall, for an entirely different context to photograph Alaska’s Northern Lights, look at this phototour in October.



The Tao

April 12th, 2021 by Carl D
Backpackers looking over alpine tarn near Iceberg Lake, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, 7 Pass Route
The eternal moment

“When her work is done, she forgets it.

That is why it lasts forever.”

Lao-tzu, “Tao Te Ching”

Return to the Great Bears

April 2nd, 2021 by Carl D
brown bear mother chasing salmon, Katmai National Park

Bears Chasing Salmon

Hey Folks,

Bears are my favorite photography subject. By far. 

Mostly because I have had the exceedingly good fortune to photograph them as often as I have.

This summer I’m so looking forward to getting back to the Alaska Peninsula and the Katmai National Park area to see the great bears of the Katmai region. 

I definitely love catching the action of a hungry bear hot on the heels (tailfin) of a spawning salmon. This hungry young mother bear had 3 even hunger and younger mouths to feed, and she was pretty intent on doing what needed to be done to make that happen.

Great memories of a great trip.

We still have space on Fall Grizzlies Tour as well.

Hopefully when we return this summer we’ll catch more action like this. And if not, it’ll still be awesome just to be around these magnificent animals. They’re good for the soul.



Expeditions Alaska
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