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…
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!
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…
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…
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.
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.
– Trip #1: Sept 19-25, 2010.
– Trip #2: Sept 26 – Oct 2, 2010
– Fully Outfitted Camp and Guided Photo Tour $2675.00
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.
I thought I’d write a quick post about insulation for hiking. This year, I made the switch from a pile fleece jacket to a synthetic fill jacket. The jacket that I virtually lived in all backpacking season long, (on plenty of day hikes as well, including this walk up to Powerline Pass near Anchorage with Keba and Musa) was the Montbell Thermawrap. At under 9oz, it’s hard to beat for weight savings. It’s certainly MUCH lighter than any of my fleece jackets, and far more stuffable. Packed into its little stuff sack, it takes up no space in the backpack at all. And it’s insanely warm for something so tiny. It definitely is warmer than either my 200 weight or 300 weight polartec fleece jackets, and is also extremely windproof. Continue reading…
Well, the season has wound up tight, and I’m slowly getting back in to ‘office-mode‘ for the winter. I’ll try to write a ‘summer backpacking wrap’ before too long, with some notes from the various trips we had this year. In the meantime, I’d like to mention a trip I’m planning for next year, 2010, that I’m WAAAAYYYYY excited about. I’ll be leading a photo tour to Katmai National Park in the fall, after the backpacking season. We’ll basecamp in Katmai National Park for a week, and photograph grizzly bears, also known as ‘brown bears’ in that particular region, all day long. For those of you unfamiliar with Katmai National Park, the region is home to the greatest population density of grizzly bears anywhere, and also some of the largest bears in the world. Continue reading…