Far Mountain Traverse

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Travel

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. 



Mittenwald, Bavaria: Waterfall and More Mountains

Landscapes, Photography, Sports, Travel

Above: A canyon with cool-blue water cuts through the mountains surrounding Mittenwald, Bavaria. Photographed August 7, 2013.

A long day of hiking is guaranteed to make one sore. One way to loosen up is another hike – this time to a swimming pool under a waterfall. A bike ride and a 30 minute trek up a stream bed led to the pool. The water was not warm, but greatly refreshed achy muscles.

A natural shower and a swimming pool to play in outside near the village of Mittenwald, Bavaria.

A natural shower and a swimming pool to play in outside near the village of Mittenwald, Bavaria.

The stream bed alone was gorgeous, with teal water, smooth stone and tall canyon walls. 


Cool blue canyon.

The road between Mittenwald and the stream and waterfall is occupied with farmland. The return trip at sunset gave me a few great photographic opportunities.

Farmers enjoy mountain views at sunset while driving a tractor.

Farmers enjoy mountain views at sunset while driving a tractor.

Faded German signs, a biker and mountain ranges.

Faded German signs, a biker and mountain ranges.

Mittenwald, Bavaria: Part One

architecture, Landscapes, Photography, Sports, Travel

Above: Alps rise just north of the German-Austrian border. The winding road leads to the summer house of Kind Ludvig II, whose main castle I featured in an earlier post. Photographed August 6, 2013.

Mittenwald is a small village in the German state of Bavaria. It’s situated on the German Alps and shares a border with Austria. A friend of mine lives there, so it was a few-day stop while traveling in Europe.

Mountains are a high-hop and quick-skip away. Architecture follows strict guidelines. Ski hills and mountain bikes are popular pastimes. There’s more to come from Mittenwald.

Caribou, Moose, Dall Sheep and Ptarmigan in Trees

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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. 


Spectacular Polychrome Pass, Denali National Park

Abstract, Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Sports, Travel

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. 


All images were shot during a bicycle trip into Denali National Park on May 2. More to follow.


Farmer’s silhouette, seen through train window

Landscapes, Photography, Portraits, Travel

Above: A farmer in the distance is seen, silhouetted while working, through a train window. The stark emptiness of the image is what makes the person seem so prominent. Cool colors, green and grey-blue, create a relaxed and open landscape that contrasts the farmer’s firm form. 

1/2000 sec. at f/9.0 ISO400

Fairytale castles and grand views in Bavaria

architecture, Landscapes, Photography, Travel

Above: Neuschwanstein Castle, in Bavaria, southern Germany, sits on a hill high above farmland, lakes and small villages. 

Neuschwanstein was the castle of “Mad” King Ludvig II, a reclusive Bavarian King. It’s not an ancient castle like many situated throughout Europe. Construction began in 1869, and Ludvig never saw it’s completion, he died a suspicious death one day after being disposed of the throne. Immediately after the castle was opened to the public for tours, and can now accommodate 6,000 people a day. 

The castle has played a role in everything from Disney movies to a storage house and retreat for Nazi SS. It sits on a dramatic hill, overlooking Ludvig’s father’s castle, sprawling farms and bodies of water. Fussen, Bavaria, is the closest town.

A hill behind the castle offers the most dramatic views.


Amazing Whistler and Blackcomb

Landscapes, Photography, Sports, Travel

Stunning scenery, helicopter-like views and spectacular snowboarding on sometimes treacherous terrain are just a few of the experiences I was fortunate enough to have in Whistler, British Columbia. Whistler and Blackcomb are two mountains in the town of Whistler, where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held. It is one of the premier skiing destinations in the world, with good reason. 

Thanks to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which features the worlds longest unsupported span, almost two miles, and the worlds tallest lift at 1,427 feet, Whistler and Blackcomb are the worlds largest continuous lift system. The amount of accessible terrain is insane. 

Snowboarding in Whistler is an experience I will never forget, and hope to have again soon. 

Note: These were all shot with my iPhone, I have GoPro media I hope to edit soon, but realistically may not.


iPhone roadtrip: Fairbanks to Whistler

Black & White, Iphone, Landscapes, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

I recently returned home from a road trip through Canada, south through Washington, Oregon and California, then north through Nevada, Utah, Montanan, Washington and Canada again.

Because of the quickness both in taking and sharing pictures I really embraced my camera phone on this trip. This is the first of likely a half-dozen posts chronicling the road trip from my iPhone.

All these were featured on my Instagram account, follow me @rwoodpix to see what other adventures I embark on this summer.

The first leg of the trip was roughly 2000 miles, from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Whistler, British Columbia, to do some snowboarding. This first post features shots from the road.

Sunflower Fields Forever

Landscapes, Photography, Travel

I rarely talk about picture specifications. But on this occasion, through some stroke of luck, a difficult image turned out.

These sprawling sunflower fields were shot from the window of a moving train, somewhere in Switzerland. Camera settings were ISO 3200, 1/800 of a second at f 4.0.

Even though the picture isn’t fully sharp, it would have been nearly impossible to get a better result. I could have slowed my shutter speed to get a smaller aperture, giving more sharpness, but with motion I think a fast shutter speed is more important. ISO 3200 is already pretty high, so I don’t think much would be gained by going to 6400 and getting more noise.

A good image captures a feeling, and to me this represents a very fleeting moment of extraordinary beauty.