Above: Sun shines on a granite tor of Angle Rocks and trees in golden fall colors, to the right the Chena River snakes through a valley cast in shadows. September 11, 2014.
Angle Rocks is almost assuredly the most popular hiking spot near Fairbanks. It’s a 3.5-mile loop in the Chena River State Recreation Area, about 45 miles from Fairbanks, that takes trekkers through and around a variety of tors formed from granite.
The tors were formed hundreds of millions of years ago when magma bubbled up from the Earth’s mantel, but failed break through the ground. They then slowly become revealed as erosion striped the surrounding land, exposing the giant rocks.
I hiked Angle Rocks twice this summer, once in spring and once in fall. Both seasons provided fantastic and vibrant colors. The cool and calm spring greens and the energetic and exciting gold of fall.
Hikers climb and play on one of the many formations at Angle Rocks. May 17, 2014.
Colorful patterns created by shadows, leafs and rocks result in a busy but fascinating scene.
Trek 45 minutes past the main rock attractions to get a panoramic view all the way to the Alaska Range, hundreds of miles south.
Stretching silhouette at Angel Rocks.
Angle Creek trail winds though green spring trees in the valley opposing Angle Rocks. Specks of people can be seen in the lower-right rock formations.
Above: The view south from the top of Far Mountain, northeast of Fairbanks. Smoke rises far in the distance from a wildfire more than 100 miles south.
Far Mountain Traverse is roughly a 28-mile hike that starts and ends at Chena Hot Springs. The loop has a total elevation gain around 15,000 feet, with a summit of more than 4000 feet — one of the highest peaks in the surrounding area.
In addition to considerable mileage: rock fields, granite tors, smoke clouds from wildfires, mild bushwhacking and a lot of mosquitos. All standard Alaska backcountry.
One thought I had during the hike was to reach Far Mountain, then pack raft out. I found a very in-depth blog post about just such an adventure at Go Play Outside, a fun Alaska excursion blog with extensive information. A hike a raft is doable.
One of the more interesting granite tors.
Strong winds kept mosquitos at bay most of the trip. But when mosquitos mass…
Good morning from the tent.
Above: Mother moose sheds her winter coat, followed close by a yearling, Denali National Park, May 2, 2014.
My last post was the scenery I encountered during a long and hilly 50-plus mile bike ride inside Denali National Park. There were multiple large mountain passes, hot temperatures and in my case more then 10 pounds of photo gear.
I brought along my telephoto, predicting I would regret not taking it. While I probably could have done without, it certainly got me a few wildlife shots.
Both to my relief and disappointment, there were no bears on this trip. Bears in Denali are common, and traveling solo I didn’t want to see one too close.
These were far from the only instances I saw wildlife, most were too far away to do anything but acknowledge their presence.
Female ptarmigan in a tree, the Alaska State Bird.
Dall sheep in Polychrome Pass.
Male ptarmigan in a tree.
Caribou looks at you.
Above: The steep pitch of Polychrome Pass becomes evident when the horizon is set against the slope. May 2, 2014.
Polychrome Pass is a mountain pass named for Polychrome Mountain on the Denali Park Road, the 83-mile out and back road that takes visitors inside Denali National Park. The narrow, steep, winding pass is breathtaking, and steep.
“Poly” is latin for many and “chrome” is latin for color, so polychrome pass means “many colors.” It’s an appropriate name. Reds, greens, blues, violets, ambers, yellows and browns are just some of the spectrums seen at any given time. With the addition of sweeping vistas, it’s one of my favorite places in the park.
According to National Park Service geological information, Polychrome Pass features basalts and rhyolites deposited by volcanic activity 56 million years ago.
This post will feature some of the many colors and the swirling, striated patterns they create, mixed with grand vistas.
Dall sheep, masters of rocky slopes, forage in Polychrome Pass.
Abstract detail shot of colorful rocks.
Polychrome Pass looking southwest.
Polychrome pass looking southwest, the road winds through to upper left of the image.
Complementary reds and greens are just some of the many vibrant colors that give Polychrome Pass its name.
Shadows and striations make stark patterns.
Polychrome pass looking northeast.
All images were shot during a bicycle trip into Denali National Park on May 2. More to follow.
Hundreds of Bohemian Waxwings flocked in frigid 20 below fahrenheit. I arrived unexpectedly on the scene and realized time was short.
I took five frames. Luckily I was at a very fast shutter speed, so four are nice and crisp. While all four images are fairly similar, they’re stronger as a set. Flowing patterns of birds in flight mixed with minimal tree reference and high contrast make complicated scenes and challenging composition.
In the day of digital photography it’s a great feeling to take only five photos and truly enjoy four.
Click on any image to view in carousel.
Waxwings three – Barely visibly birch trees
Waxwings two – Flight patterns
Waxwings four – Close up
Waxwings One – Sliver of a spruce tree.
Above: Straight down view from the parking garage during the start of the 2014 Yukon Quest international sled dog race.
The Yukon Quest kicked off February 1, a world famous 1,000 mile sled dog race between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon. Dog teams pull sleds and handlers along the namesake Yukon River, up and down summits and through treacherous trails in some of the worst weather imaginable. A true endeavor for dog and man alike.
The race alternates start and finish between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, this year was Fairbanks. The Chena River in downtown Fairbanks is the usual starting spot, but due to unseasonably warm temperatures the ice was deemed unstable and the race started on 2nd Avenue. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people lined the street to send off racers.
I wasn’t on assignment so I casually photographed the race from the top of the parking garage. I love the chance to combine rugged dog mushing with a city scape – particularly from a high perspective.
Looking west a dog team leaves start gate of the 2014 Yukon Quest.
Looking east a dog team works toward the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks.
Above: Snow-covered spruce trees lead to a hill north of Fairbanks briefly blanketed by the golden glow of sunrise.
While much of North America is recovering from the recent polar vortex, Fairbanks has been experience lovely weather. Temperatures were above zero degrees fahrenheit for much of December and January, including plenty of balmy days up into the 20-degree range. Not to say we haven’t had cold weather – last weekend was 40-below – but it has felt pretty mild so far.
All that warm weather was ideal for cross-country skiing. Nordic skiing is easily one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors while getting a killer workout.
One of the outings was directed toward a frozen pond (in the summer nothing more then a swamp,) overlooked by a old cabin on the bank. Whispery clouds provided a canvas for the pink and orange sunset to blanket.
An old cabin at sunset just north of Fairbanks Alaska, Jan. 2, 2014
Closeup of an old cabin.
Above: Piano lessons at night through a window in the University of Washington district. Shot on a Kodak Retine IIIc, 35mm film.
Windows, the current weekly photo challenge, can mean many things. Look in or out a window to see opposites. Eyes are windows. A window of time carries heavy implications. Windows are simultaneous openings and reflections. Insight into others and self.
Throughmylens posted two wonderful windows to look through – one in British Columbia and one in Italy.
Im excited to feature film frames this post. I have been neglecting film recently, so it’s good stimulant to shoot and process more. Two are film, the abstract black and white and the color frames are film.
Abstract frost patterns in a window at Creamers Field – 120mm Illford film.
Cat watches world.
Dog watches world.
Above: A quiet and foggy beginning to the 2013-2014 season at Skiland. December 7, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.
December 7, 2013, marked the start of the downhill season at Skiland – the farthest-north chairlift in North America. Opening day is often a mad dash; wake up after a party; corral people, some gear, and grub; then try to get there for first run at 10 a.m., because last run comes quick at 2:30 p.m.
This year was relaxed, waxed boards the night before and went to bed at a reasonable time. The next day lots of clouds made visibility difficult, but unseasonably warm temperatures – over 10 degrees fahrenheit – complemented a snowpack that hide reasonable numbers of rocks!
Not much lifts the spirits in dark and typically cold December then an early opening at the downhill. Here’s a few examples of rapidly-changing light from the chairlift.
Sitting in a cloud, prepping for the second run of the season.
Visibility remained elusive, even worsening as the morning progressed – 10:42 a.m.
By 1:58 the sun was in decline, and direct sunlight had all but passed.
With one hour left to snowboard, at 1:48 p.m., the sun had broken some clouds – revealing spectacular scenery.
The photos are dated, but the weekly photo challenge of “community” is a good opportunity to post them.
A costumed community of musicians and dancers joined together the Saturday after halloween for some dancing to Steve Brown and the Bailers. These like-minded people – in spirit, enthusiasm and search of enjoyment – joined together for the night to make a very welcoming community.
Hope my fellow wordpress community and beyond enjoy!
Smiles and spins for the honky-tonk rhythms.
From left to right: a monk, skeleton, witch and vampire don’t often form a community.
Music and costumes
This prisión mandolin player is part of a community I wouldn’t want to be.
A furloughed fed and Inspector Gadget come together to have a good time.