Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Travel photos, tourism and tourists, adventure and exotic photos.

Mount Saint Elias Photo

Sunday, October 9th, 2011
Mt. Saint Elias photo, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Mount Saint Elias, 18 008' high, stands tall in the evening light over an unnamed glacier, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska - aerial photo. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Well, just back from 2 weeks to photographing brown bears in Katmai National Park, and I’m off again already; I’ll be gone for some time on this trip, 4 weeks down along the coastline of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, where I will meet up with Erin and Hig, of Ground Truth Trekking. They’re spending 2 months in the area,  finding out

“what would it be like to live on ice? In the fall of 2011 we will set out to spend two months living on the shifting, melting surface of North America’s largest glacier, along with our two young children.

Trekking between a series of camps on the Malaspina Glacier, on Alaska’s remote and harsh Lost Coast, we will explore this dramatic and wild landscape, weather the fall storms, and document climate change in action.”

Pretty cool stuff. (more…)

The Wrangell Mountains

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Wrangell Mountains, Willow Lake, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Willow Lake and the Wrangell Mountains, wintertime, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska. From left to right, Mt Drum, Mt Sanford, Mt Zanetti, Mt Wrangell. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks

Well, maybe not all of them, but some of the stars, for sure.

Mt Drum, Mt Sanford, Mt Zanetti and Mt Wrangell, viewed from Willow Lake, along the Richardson Highway. It’s not always this clear, however, and so many of the people who drive by this scene have no idea what they’re missing. Perhaps more amazingly, when it IS clear, some people drive right by without so much as a glance.

Cheers

Carl

Winter’s comin

Monday, November 8th, 2010
Snowshoeing in Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Winter travel through the boreal forest, in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Hiking on snowshoes through the snow-covered taiga, white spruce forest in winter. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Well, Fall’s well and truly over, now. I skied through a whiteout this afternoon, over in the Chugach Mountains, and decided winter’s here. So I think I’ll welcome the new season with a trip to “the park”, as I call Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

The plan is to head over early this week and spend a few days on the north side of the park, snowshoeing and skiing around in the forest. I took this photo last winter on a trip to this same area; it’s always a treat to return and wander through the silent whiteness.

Winter is such a fascinating time of year in Alaska, so stark and silent, yet completely amazing. It lacks the vitality of the summer, but owns a kind of sublime depth that simply isn’t present at any other time of year. It’s very alive. Right now it hasn’t yet got down to the crazy winter temps of -40˚, but there should be plenty of snow around.

Tomorrow I’ll spend part of the day packing for the trip. Even though I’m only going to the park for a few days, colder weather means more gear, and more careful packing is required. Then, Tuesday, it’ll be off to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park to see what I can find to photograph. If nothing is on offer, I’ll just spend the time skiing a few areas  want to explore a little more, snowshoeing through the forest, and enjoying the greatest National Park in the world. 🙂

Cheers

Carl

Backpacking trip; Hidden Creek

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Backpacking up Hidden Creek, in the Wrangell Mountains, near Kennicott, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Backpacking up Hidden Creek, in the Wrangell Mountains, near Kennicott, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. To view a larger version of this image, please click on the photo above.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a shot again from the Hidden Creek backpacking trip this past summer. Well, if one can really call the last week of August in Alaska “summer”. We had a great time on the trip, as I mentioned in a few earlier posts, in particular because we were fortunate enough to have some fine weather. Those big sunny skies make the world of difference when you’re sleeping, eating and doing everything else under them.

I miss the summer already! Right now we’re kind of in that dead era between fall and winter. I’ve been back from my last trip (photographing grizzly bears in Katmai National Park) over 2 weeks now .. the longest stint i’ve spent inside the house since May. I think next week I’ll try to head to somewhere and sleep in my tent again. I need some wilderness, especially after sitting in a court room all week (so far) doing my civic service of jury duty.

This particular hike was rewarding as well,, because last year I did this section as part of a longer route, from Nugget Creek to Kennicott – 65 miles through the Wrangell mountains. However, most of the trip was under socked in, gray, cloudy skies, cold damp air and gusts of winds. It was a treat to get to see at least some of what we hiked through in the fog.

I think I’ll probably add this hike to my regular set of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park backpacking trips. It’s a flexible route, with a lot of options for detours, sidetrips, basecamps, extended hikes or shorter trips, etc, etc. And the scenery is simply superb. (more…)

Camped on the tundra; Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
A backcountry campsite high on the tundra in the Wrangell Mountains. The high alpine ridges near Mt Jarvis, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve provide a great place for hiking and backpacking. Sunset, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

A backcountry campsite (Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1) high on the tundra in the Wrangell Mountains. The high alpine ridges near Mt Jarvis, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve provide a great place for hiking and backpacking. Sunset, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Just to stave off the impending deluge of grizzly bear photos, I thought I’d drop this one in here. This is from the last backpacking trip of the season for me, the recent Mt Jarvis excursion. Here’s a campsite I picked out all by myself, high on the tundra.

With a  night so wonderfully clear, the temperatures dropped down a bit during the evening, and it was plenty cold in the am when I awoke before dawn, and sauntered across the tundra to ‘reflection pond’, where I shot some of the recent images posted of Mt. Jarvis.

For this trip, I carried the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 tent that you see here. It’s a nice little 1 person tent, pretty roomy actually, and relatively light. Weighing under 3lbs, (more…)

Copper River, Wrangell Mountains, Simpson Hill Overlook

Monday, August 16th, 2010
The Copper river and Mt Drum, from Simpson Hill Overlook. View of the Copper River basin and Wrangell Mountains, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

The Copper river and Mt Drum, from Simpson Hill Overlook. View of the Copper River basin and Wrangell Mountains, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image thumbnail to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

OK, enough with the waterfalls already! Here’s another image from my spring trip earlier this year, from Simpson Hill Overlook, off the Richardson Highway, near Glennallen, Alaska. This is a scene I’ll never tire of; looking down the Copper River, with the Wrangell Mountains in glorious sunshine. The mountains you can see in this image are Mt. Drum on the left and Mt. Wrangell the broader, dome-shaped mountain on the right in the background.

Just out of sight to the left of the frame is Mt. Sanford, and  Mt. Blackburn to the right. How many vantage points do you know of in North America where you might choose to exclude from your photo two mountains both of which stand over 16 000′ high? That speaks volumes, in my opinion, about how amazing this viewpoint is. The 5th (Blackburn) and 6th tallest peaks (Sanford) in the US and they don’t make the photo? Craziness!

The Copper River is pretty grand too. Not to get bogged down by meaningless numbers and superlatives, but the Copper River is 300 miles long, and the 10th largest river, by volume, in the US. The Copper River is also the north and western boundaries of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, coolest park in all the world! It’s perhaps best known, however, for its nearly infamous Red Salmon run, usually over 2 million spawning salmon, loaded with fatty Omega-3 oils that make for some delicious supper.

I was really hoping for some sweet delicious alpenglow on this particular evening …. but ….. alas, such wasn’t to be my fortune. The light faded soon after I shot this – the boreal forest in the foreground grew dark, and the mountain light ebbed and dwindled; distant dim clouds low on the northwestern horizon thwarted my efforts at capturing some rich color on the snow-capped peaks, as seems to be the case all too often.

This scene is one of the very few ‘roadside‘ vantage points from which to photograph some of the big mountains in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Willow Lake is another. The views on a clear day from these places rival anything I’ve seen anywhere else. The problem, I guess, for photographers is that the clear days are few and far between. Enjoy ’em when ya can! 🙂

Cheers

Carl

Horsetail Falls, Keystone Canyon

Thursday, August 12th, 2010
A hiker stands alongside Horsetail Falls, near Valdez, on the Richardson Highway, Alaska.

Standing alongside Horsetail Falls, near Valdez, on the Richardson Highway, Alaska. Please click on the image thumbnail to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Here’s another photo from my trip down the Richardson Highway – Memory Lane. This one is Horsetail Falls, another waterfall in keystone Canyon, just south of Bridal Veil Falls, the image I posted earlier.

Waterfalls are so cool; I can sit and stare at a waterfall for hours, it seems, never tiring of the flow. The energy of the falls is often spellbinding.

I first visited this particular area, along the Lowe River in Keystone Canyon, on a trip to Valdez in 2000. That trip seems like several lifetimes ago now. It rained most of the time, and I left soon after, heading north to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park for a backpacking trip. I wish I hadn’t taken so long to return. (more…)

Bridal Veil Falls Photo, Keystone Canyon

Sunday, August 8th, 2010
Bridal Veil Falls, Keystone Canyon, Richardson Highway, Valdez,

Bridal Veil Falls from the Richardson Highway, near Valdez, Alaska. Keystone Canyon, Lowe River, Chugach Mountains, Central Alaska waterfalls. To view a larger version of the photo, please click on the thumbnail.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a photo I took this spring on a quick trip down the Richardson Highway to Valdez. Kind of a spur of the moment thing, I took off from Glennallen one rainy, nasty morning to revisit the area. I hadn’t been down to Valdez in years, and so it was a nice way to spend what looked like might be a day of dreary weather. I also wanted to photograph a couple of the waterfalls along the road, this one and Horsetail Falls as well, which is just around the bend from Bridal Veil Falls.

This kind of location is difficult to shoot, for me, as the scene doesn’t offer a lot of options regarding a vantage point. The river in the foreground, Lowe River, is uncrossable, unless you have a boat. I, of course, did not have a boat with me. So the photographer here is pretty limited to shooting from across the river, and that makes it difficult to come up with any compositional variations.

Similarly, without a heavy overcast day, including the sky wasn’t a great option either. The road runs immediately behind where I shot this image from, so backing away would drastically change the nature of the photo, by including the road in the foreground. Not necessarily a bad thing, but that wasn’t what I was looking for. Perhaps I’ll go back one day in better conditions and shoot it again, with the road and a motor vehicle in the foreground, as a ‘travel photo‘.

(more…)

Designating Wilderness: your choice.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (aerial photo).

Coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (aerial photo).

Hey Folks,

Last night I attended  public comment hearing for the preliminary stages of a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). In short, this comment period allows the public to offer information and thoughts on some of the issues they feel might need to be addressed, and oftentimes their thoughts as to how those issues should be addressed. The CCP will be a document that “outlines and guides long-term management” of the Refuge. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are the land management agency responsible for managing the Refuge. If you would like to add your input at this stage, here is Comment Form for the Refuge. Before you do, it’s worth browsing the FWS ANWR webpage for some useful ideas on how this works (they’re not looking for reasons why the coastal plain might or might not be opened to drilling – that decision is to be the work of Congress, not the simple folks of the FWS).

One of the critical topics up for discussion is the designation of  “wilderness” in the Refuge. Currently, nearly half (41%) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 19.3 million acres is designated wilderness. The remaining 10 million acres are not currently designated “wilderness”. The FWS are presently proposing to study these areas and determine whether or not they qualify as wilderness; the ‘Wilderness Review‘ section of the CCP. A recommendation could then be made to Congress to designate these areas wilderness. Such a designation would render the Refuge off-limits to oil and gas extraction.

The arguments were the same tired commentaries we’ve heard countless times now; (more…)

A Tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico

Thursday, May 6th, 2010
Hiker playing Native American Indian flute on the arctic coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Alaska.

Playing a Native American Indian flute on the arctic coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Alaska. Please click on the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

I’ve been wanting to write for the last week about the current Gulf Oil disaster, but haven’t really been quite sure what to say. There are simply so many tangents to this mess that I’ve not known where to start. The deaths of 11 people seem, unfortunately, to fade into the melée of concern about big oil, political ineptness, poisoned ecosystems, fathomless litigations, ad infinitum. The web we weave seems larger than the spread of oil.

It makes sense, to me, to start at home. The reality is that this catastrophe stares us right in the eyeball. The mirror reflects our own lives – I drive a car, I love my gore-tex and silnylon tents, my synthetic-fill jacket, my polycarbonate cameras. I eat fresh bananas and whole grain breads shipped here from afar. My computer was flown directly from Shanghai, China. The world I live in is a fossil fuel world. That world includes crude oil belching from the ocean floor into the Gulf of Mexico, and on to Gaia knows where.

So I bear responsibility in this mess; I want cheap gasoline, cheap oil. I complained about the soaring gasoline prices just 2 years ago. I failed to demand that the federal government not exempt BP from an environmental impact study. I failed to demand that Minerals Management Services mandate a remote-control shut-off switch on all drilling operations. I failed to demand that the oil industry follow the strictest, safest procedures possible. (more…)