Reaching accomplishment creek on the Sag River is indeed an accomplishment. Fully out Alaska’s snowy Brooks Range and into the seemingly endless arctic tundra.
However, accomplishment and completed are not synonymous. Another very full day awaits – half on on whitewater and half in a car.
But what better way to reward an accomplishment than Alpenglow reflected in a tranquil rock garden in a truly wild place.
After a full day of technical water in the Atigun canyon, and a half day of flat floating on the Sag River, vast expanses appeared on the north side of the Brooks Range, far in Alaska’s Arctic. Here, The Sag cuts through the frame during a very strenuous side hike.
Almost immediately after this hike, white water turned up for the next day-and-a-half.
Fall and winter collide in the Atigun River Gorge. Sept. 2, 2017.
It seems my life is being drawn toward rivers significantly more in recent years. I don’t necessarily go searching, but don’t turn them down either.
Such a situation arose last fall, when I got the opportunity to float the Atigun and Sagavanirktok rivers. They are extremely remote class II-IV rivers, far above the Arctic Circle, flowing north out of Alaska’s Brooks Range.
It’s a nine hour drive north from Fairbanks just to the put in — cell phone service is unavailable after about 45 minutes of driving. Don’t forget to add a few extra hours for the car shuttle.
Needless to say, the trip is extraordinary.
Tucked deep in the forest north of Fairbanks, one of the most vibrant and lush bluebell bushes I have ever seen.
Exploring the centuries-old Nankoweap Granaries deep in the heart of the Grand Canyon.
Headlamps were used to cook nearly every meal during the long winter nights.
Cruising down the Colorado River.
A side creek drains toward to Colorado River with cactus in the foreground.
Be sure to check out the full-length article full-length article I wrote about my trip down the Grand Canyon for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
A flotilla of rafts cruises down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon in early 2017.
A person is dwarfed by Red Wall Cavern along the Colorado River.
Camping along the Colorado River.
The year is quickly coming to an end, which makes me think about all the great activities it was filled with — none more monumental than paddling the first half of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, which fittingly started on Jan. 1.
Check out the full story with photos I wrote for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
Only a few hours drive from the beach leads to the Hoh Rainforest, one of the largest temperate rain forests in the U.S.
My grandma — who inspired the trip around the peninsula — didn’t advise visiting Hoh Rainforest for the very appropriate reason of rain and big trees being all too easy to find in Washington. But it was close, so I went and enjoyed a rare sunny afternoon walk.
The depth and patterns created by luminous leaves made for lovely photographic subjects.
Of the approximately half-dozen beaches visited on the Olympic Peninsula, Klaloch and Rialto seemed in a league of their own, each vastly different.
The Dungeness Spit, technically in Olympic State Park, earns an honorable mention for one of the longest sand spits in the world and a light house.
At Klaloch, limited but amazing camp sites overlook truly vast expanses of gently sloping sand and minuscule tides. A quaint resort is nearby with cabins for rent. Rialto beach is the opposite — strong waves crash into pebble beaches, pushing rocks up the shore before drawing them back out to sea with an almost violent crackle. A lovely 1.5 miles paved road connects the campground to the beach — perfect for a light jog past a pond of croaking frogs.
For years my grandma told me Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is her favorite place to vacation. Last spring I finally took some time to check it out — and immediately understood her enthusiasm. From expansive beaches to the rain forest and climbing into the high alpine, all in one day, Olympic National Park has something for everyone.
Being a land-locked Alaskan familiar with world-class mountains, I was most excited by the stunning beaches and joys of exploring tide pools. This post I’ll featuring a few of the sea anemones and star fish I photographed at Kalaolch’s tide pools.
Next post I’ll highlight the dramatic scenery of expansive beaches.