We live in a world defined by our own constructs. The rules we learn and abide are our own, the maps we follow are our own, the stories we learn are own. The way we see the world is through the eyes of our culture. At times, it provides a miraculous view; I can’t imagine my life without the music of Stevie Wonder to keep me company, or the writings of Thoreau, or the photography of Frans Lanting. Those are the parameters of our civilized lives, and they serve us usefully much of the time.
But what of those parameters not laid out for us by other people? What if I want to see the forest through the eyes of the bear?
The easiest way to experience a bit of what the wild was like is to go into a great forest at night alone. Sit quietly for awhile. Something very old will return. – Jack Turner
Challenge yourself to experience the world beyond the models we’ve constructed for it to fit inside.
Well, what we mean is “no trail”. It’s not the same thing as backpacking through the mountains for a few days on a nice trail, hitting the open alpine terrain where the trail disperses and you flit over the green alpine grasses the von Trapps.
When we talk about “offtrail backpacking” travel we mean when the terrain is challenging, you have no trail. We mean when the terrain is easy, there is no trail. We mean when the terrain gets really, really hard and downright nasty, we have no trail.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.