Choosing Your Backcountry Campsite

January 27th, 2010 by Carl D
Backcountry campsite in the Chugach mountains, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. From the Iceberg Lake to Bremner Mines trip.
Backcountry campsite in the Chugach mountains, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. From the Iceberg Lake to Bremner Mines trip.

Hey Folks

Here’s a short post with some tips for you on picking a campsite in the backcountry.  Why a post about picking a campsite? I think it’s useful because many folks overlook this part of a trip, as most people are (typically) so used to backpacking and hiking on trails in the Lower 48 states that it doesn’t really occur to them until it’s time to set up a tent. And by then, it’s too late.

Your campsite is your home, albeit ever so temporarily, and it’s well worth taking a couple of steps toward setting up home for the evening in a setting that you enjoy. Backpacking all day with a heavy load through rugged but beautiful mountains is hard work, and an important part of the trip, to us, is enjoying a great campsite. What makes a great campsite?

Firstly, it needs to be “low impact.” Essentially, low impact campsites are those that don’t leave undue stress on the landscape, or on other visitors to the park, both while you’re camped there and after you’re gone. There are a number of elements that are important, and I’ll stress a few of them here (this is not a comprehensive list). Continue reading…


Grizzly Bears in Katmai National Park

January 23rd, 2010 by Carl D

Hey Folks,

I’ve been crazy busy trying to get the website overhauled – I hope you enjoy the new design. Fortunately, I’m a better photographer and backcountry guide than I am web coder! 🙂

Here’s a video I shot in Katmai National Park and Preserve, of a family a bears fishing in Brooks River while another young bear wanders around the scene – the young cubs get a little distraught, but ole mom is pretty undisturbed about it all. If you’re not a member of Facebook and can’t see the video, you can view the video on Youtube here.

Anyway, I thought I’d post this here just to keep in touch, and look forward to our Grizzly Bears in the Fall phototour coming in 2010. I’ve just added that html page, so be sure to check it out. I have 2 slide shows on there of new grizzly bear photos.

Cheers

Carl


Backpacker Magazine!

January 18th, 2010 by Carl D
Hole in the Wall, Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
Mountain Avens and Dwarf Fireweed, Hole in the Wall, Skolai Pass, Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Click the image to view a larger version.

Hey Folks,

It’s always nice when a magazine editor wants your photo for their story, and you get published. But it’s WAY nicer when you get published in a magazine you enjoy, read and value. This image posted here is in the current edition of backpacker magazine, page 65 – full page vertical, which is nice. The image accompanies an article on backpacking “the Goat Trail”, in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. This was the first route I ever hiked in Wrangell-St. Elias, and definitely a favorite of mine, so having my image chosen to accompany the story represents much more than just another published photo and a check to me.

It’s also cool for me because a few of my friends are published in the same edition of the magazine. It’d be remiss of me not to mention Bret Edge, and Ron Niebrugge, all of whom are photographers I admire. T Continue reading…


Video – Russell Glacier.

January 14th, 2010 by Carl D

Hey Folks,

This short video was taken on the Skolai Pass Phototour, fall 2009. We had a great trip, some great weather, some great people, and loads of fun. This particular afternoon we put in some miles hiking out along the Russell Glacier toward Mt Bona and Mt Churchill, to awesome peaks 16 000 and 15 000 feet high, respectively. The Russell Glacier runs right up to the north face of Mount Bona, and inspiring sight.
We had a fantastic hike, enjoyed lunch on the high flat plateau, and then walked back toward camp at Chitistone Pass for the afternoon, and to shoot the evening light on the mountains. And, I must say, we had a simply unbelievable evening, with gorgeous alpenglow on the mountain peaks. It was a lot of fun being in the right place at the right time for some photography. That doesn’t happen everyday, but when it does, it makes al those hours and miles worthwhile. Continue reading…


Backcountry Skiing – Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

January 5th, 2010 by Carl D
Backcountry cross country (XC) skiing in the Mentasta Mountains, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Happy New Year to you all! I hope the coming year brings you all the good times you’re looking for.

I know for me the Year got off to a phenomenal start. 12:30am on January 1st had me skiing through the boreal forest for nearly 90 minutes under a gorgeous full moon, just me, the snow, my skies, the big full moon, the mountains and the cold. The temperatures were down around minus 5 (Fahrenheit) so it wasn’t too bad at all – just perfect for a nice long ski through the Mentasta Mountains in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. It’s pretty hard to think of a better way to start the new year – it was possibly one of my favorite experiences yet, absolutely amazing. I got back to the cabin feeling a sense of what it really means to be fully ‘alive’ – Awesome stuff!

This photo is of me on another ski (I didn’t take the camera on New Years Eve) up around the Mentasta Mountains, right at dusk. The wind was fairly whipping by, and the minus 10 temps felt like minus 50 and then some. Ouch!

Looking for a ski trip? Check out the Wrangells Ski Tour.

Best to all,

Cheers

Carl


Image of the Month – Dec 09 Alaska Brown bear

December 4th, 2009 by Carl D
A grizzly bear approaching along Brooks River, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
A grizzly bear approaching along Brooks River, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Hey Folks,

OK, I’ve moved the Image of the Month page to here for now; I’m in the process of overhauling the site, and will gradually either remove or shift the older Image of the Month pages to the blog. I think that will make them easier to  keep a handle on. So that’s the plan, for now. It’s simply too difficult to keep up with the Image of the Month on a static html page, and keep re-writing it, during the summer months when we’re hiking and backpacking all the time. So I think this format will work better. I hope so.

So we can start off the Image of the Month, for December 2009, with this grizzly bear photo I shot last fall, in October, in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Continue reading…


Camping by the Arctic Ocean

December 2nd, 2009 by Carl D
Camped by the Beaufort Sea, Arctic Ocean, at the mouth of the Canning and Steen River.

Hey Folks,

Here’s an image from our campsite on the Arctic Ocean, at the end of the Canning River float trip. This trip is such a great multi-day raft trip and we can’t wait to get back on it in 2010. What makes this trip so special is that we go from the Brooks Mountain Range, starting almost on the Continental Divide, and run all the way out of the mountains, across the coastal plain to the coast, ending at the Arctic Ocean. It’s a potpourri of terrain and ecosystems, and really gives a sense of how enormous the place is. We probably cover close to 150 miles or so.

The bird life on the trip is quite incredible, waterfowl such as tundra swans and longtail ducks, loons, eiders and more. Golden eagles and Rough-legged hawks are commonly spotted, and snowy owls as well, from time to time. It’s definitely a bird lover’s treat. Continue reading…


Denali Photo, Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

November 18th, 2009 by Carl D
Early morning photo of Denali, Or Mt. McKinley, and reflection in a small tundra pond, Denali National Park, Alaska. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.

Hey Folks,

A few years ago I spent a glorious week in Denali National Park and Preserve, camped out in the backcountry at one of my favorite spots to hang – a high ridge to the north of Denali, or Mt. McKinley as it’s officially known (see this post for a discussion concerning the name of the mountain). After too many years and way too many footsteps across the tundra, I finally happened to be in the right place at the right time. Previous trips had me wet, cold, hungry, and wondering where this infamous mountain actually was (hidden, veiled behind the infernal clouds). This one was gloriously different.

So just how much do I like this little spot? Well, in 2007 I took my mum and dad to Denali National Park and Preserve on their trip to Alaska and force-marched them up over the hills and across the tundra to this pond one afternoon. It’s a pretty spot to sit on the tundra, have some lunch, look for wildlife (we saw caribou) and soak up the mountain’s grandeur. They had a grand time.

Continue reading…

Grizzly Bears Fall Photo Tour

November 11th, 2009 by Carl D

A grizzly bear charges up the river chasing spawning Sockeye Salmon, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
A grizzly bear charges up the river chasing spawning Sockeye Salmon, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

NB: I’ve now added this trip to our regular webpages. By all means, browse this page, but also visit the page listed under ‘Phototours’ on the Trips section of the website. That page can be found here.

This coming year, 2010, I’m super excited to offer a new phototour to Katmai National Park and Preserve; we’ll be basecamping in remote southwest Alaska, photographing grizzly bears, dawn til dusk, for a week. Katmai National Park is home to some of the largest grizzly bears (or “brown bears” as they’re often called in that region) in the world. Feeding largely on salmon from some of the richest salmon runs in Alaska, the bears are magnificent creatures and there’s no better time to photograph them than in the fall. This trip offers an unsurpassed opportunity to photograph wild grizzly bears in a remote and brilliantly wild setting and promises some simply incredible photographic possibilities.

Schedule

– Trip #1: Sept 19-25, 2010.

– Trip #2: Sept 26 – Oct 2, 2010

Price

– Fully Outfitted Camp and Guided Photo Tour $2675.00

–  Both trips (14 days) $4600.00

Continue reading…


Sanford Plateau Backpacking trip, 2009.

November 1st, 2009 by Carl D

School teacher Natalie keeps up with her reading on the Sanford Plateau trip, July 09, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.
School teacher Natalie keeps up with her reading on the Sanford Plateau trip, July 09, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a photo of school teacher Natalie from this past trip. We had a great walk across the Sanford Plateau in July. The weather was awesome, as you can, and we had an absolutely gorgeous evening after dinner up on the Plateau; the sun going down to the north lit up the entire region just beautifully. Natalie wanted some photos of her reading a book that she could show to her school students when she returned to teaching after the summer. I took a couple of her in front of Mt. Drum, and a few with the awesome west flank of Mt. Sanford as a backdrop. You can also see some of the glacial moraine in the valley below, a remnant of the receding Sanford Glacier. We hiked across the lower portion of the moraine, and then climbed up on to the plateau the following morning. It’s a steep climb, but as is the case so often with climbs like this, so well worth the effort. Once upon the plateau, the walking is easy, and the vast open range of tundra really a great place to visit.

This trek was a first for Natalie, she’d never taken on quite a trip like a backpacking trip in Alaska before, Continue reading…


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