Tag Archives: boreal forest
Fun and Games
While I enjoy a few more days in the mountains, you might enjoy this. OK, so it’s not the typical blog post on a photographers’ website .. that’s a good thing, no? A friend dared me I would NOT put this on my blog … I can’t imagine why.
All I ask is that you turn it up .. loud.
A lil’ holiday spirit. As this is published, I’m probably somewhere right around here:
Copper River, Wrangell Mountains, Simpson Hill Overlook
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! 🙂
Boreal Forest at Dawn
Here’s a quick shot from my recent few weeks in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. I’m leaving in the morning for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and will return in 2 weeks. I’ll try to post something from that trip then. Until that time, I hope you enjoy this scene.
This photo was taken maybe an hour after dawn – around 4:30 am.
Photo sale to the CIA
All photo sales are unique, but this one was pretty weird. My phone rings around 5:30am, I kinda half open my eyes, clasp for the phone, miss, knock it off the table beside my bed, try to catch it, bang my head on the guitar standing against the wall, drop the phone, and it crashes to the floor. My go-to response in this situation is pretty simple; I curse. It’s a sin, I know, but it’s a hard habit to break. So I curse again, and then pick up the phone.
Surprisingly, the person on the other end of the phone is still there. I gurgle a quick greeting;
“hello, this is Carl.”
“hello, this is special agent ——– ………. “ Continue reading
Winter, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
This photo from my most recent trip to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, over the Xmas- New Year. The note below was penned one beautiful evening last winter, by candlelight in a tiny cabin in the Alaska. There’s nothing quite like the silence and the cold of the boreal forest in an Alaskan winter.
The Paradox of Silence and the Cold
Silence is the aural equivalent of stillness. Both appear related to time, or at least our perception of it. Winter in the north seems to be abundant in both. The northern winter, often so harsh and unrelenting, is also the time when the place becomes still and silent. Continue reading
Fireweed Mountain, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.
This one is for my buddy Mark Vail, who I know has to be getting a little homesick right about now. He’s been gone from his home a few days.
“A few days??”, I hear you ask, “that’s nothing!”
Well, sure it is – to most people. But most people don’t have this view by the trail to their crib, either. 🙂
Fireweed Mountain and a perfect reflection in a small pond, right off the McCarthy Road, taken this last fall, on the end of our Skolai Pass photo tour. Inclement weather suggested we fly out a day earlier than planned, and we made the best of the following morning (which was, of course, gorgeous weather) with some fall colors along the McCarthy Road. You might recall some scenes of Fireweed Mountain in the winter I posted in the past.
We commented on the difference between roadside photography and backcountry photography. One noticeable difference is how nice it is to pull up the vehicle at a likely spot, hop out, scout out some compositions and then start photographing, with the doors to the van wide open and some killer tunes from the ole iPod rockin’ our world as we clicked and clicked away. I think we were listening to Emmylou Harris as we shot this, “Where Will I Be”, from Wrecking Ball. Great album!
We actually had a great day shooting, and got some nice images – markedly different to the high open alpine stuff we’d been photographing up at Skolai Pass the day before. The contrast in scenery was fun, and the colors were great.
I’ll try to mix in some more images from that trip here as I go through my new collection of bear photos from the recent Katmai trip.
Fall Colors in the Taiga
While I’m out trudging around in the cold and wet mountains, you get to sit home and read about it, and still see the pictures!
This photo was from my recent trip to the north side of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, off the Nabesna Road. The weather wasn’t super co-operative for grander landscape images, which was a bummer, as there are certainly some grand landscapes to be had in the area. But the weather was good for more intimate scenes, like this one.
The boreal forest is a real treasure, and hiking through it is always a treat. It’s amazing what one can find sometimes – I’v e found everything from moose racks and caribou racks to trekking poles, tent stakes and other trash. But this last trip was a first for me. I found a fully-loaded, good condition large caliber centerfire rifle, with a scope, sitting by a tussock in the forest. I packed it out, and handed it in to the Park Service office, and still haven’t found out exactly what happened as to how the rifle came to be there. Pretty crazy stuff.
Other than my trip was, as always, too brief. Marred by dismal skies, I was really hoping to get some big shots of Mt Sanford, but the mountain was only rarely visible. The final morning of my trip it was out, but distant clouds to the east blocked the sun’s rays from adorning the peak – total bummer. There is a view of the mountain that I think lends itself to as fine a landscape image of grand mountains as any, but I need to put in more time, apparently, to make it happen.
As for the image above, I spend so much of the summer hiking and trekking in the alpine areas of the park that I don’t get to spend the hours in the forest that I would like. The forest is a special place, and I always enjoy my time there. In the fall, it comes alive with color, and this year was grand, for sure. The color seemed to peak around the end of August, and only a few days later had noticeably dropped off. I was lucky to catch it before that happened.
I’ll be back (hopefully) from my next trip with some more landscapes, and then we’ll see what the last 2 weeks of September bring for my trips. At the moment, I’m toying with a few ideas, but haven’t set anything in stone so far. We shall see.
Oh, a side note; this kind of more open boreal forest is often referred to as ‘taiga’, which is a so-called Russian word for ‘little sticks’, expressing the smallish stature of the spruce trees. However, my Russian friend Sergei tells me that in Russia, the word taiga simply means ‘forest’. We’ll have to explore this controversy further and see wherein the truth lies. In the meantime, here’s a quiz; how many various vegetation species can you see here, and what are they (Mark Vail you go last)?
The boreal forest, winter. Spruce trees covered in snow, near McCarthy, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.