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.
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.
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.
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.”
My happy place is a state of being — the culmination of numerous factors. A breath of fresh air in sun or snow. Freedom to run through the woods, twisting along a skinny trail. A beer and a dance floor with great live music, or a slow sunday with a cup of hot coffee.
Of course looking through a viewfinder is often a happy activity for me.
Above: Expect more of a “fishing perch” than a “fishing hole” when dip-netting the Copper River in southeast Alaska. Spirit Mountain pokes above the big and fast glacial-fed river that’s full of silt and very cold. Copper River Reds, the salmon in the net, are some of the most sought after in the world.
The river is also an excellent of the Weekly Photo Challenge of boundaries. Rivers are some of Earth’s most common boundaries. For the fish in my net it is a boundary of left and death, or for a person if they fall in.
Sometimes sweeping is necessary — a time- and labor-intensive technique during which the fisher sweeps the net with the current, resets and repeats.
Even when fishing is done much work is left to be done. Here a king salmon is butchered.
Berry picking is a passage of fall, and provides delicious and healthy food for a long winter.
Fall is a harbinger of winter, especially when snow begins dusting mountain tops.
Colors create abstract patterns.
Forest fires are an important mechanism for regrowth in the boreal forest, and berries frequently find their nutrient-dense soil.
Above: The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute, with a satellite-receiving dish on the roof, sits tucked among trees as a runner makes her away along trails far below, visibly only by a bright blue jacket. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game the boreal forest, that which is found around Interior Alaska, is largest terrestrial ecosystem on earth.
Interior Alaska’s fall comes fast, and leaves even faster. With only a small variety deciduous trees we don’t get a large variety of color, but the bright yellow leaves among dark green spruce still make dramatic scenes. It can take less than one week for trees to shed their leaves if a hard frost is followed by a strong wind or rain.
A sunset on Orcas Island, Washington, illuminates smoke from a nearby campfire.
I like how the qualities of the above photo mesh with the two following abstracts photos: grass floating in water. All three pictures have a smooth quality and share cool green tones. The sun streaks, a more literal picture, still offers plenty of room for the imagination to wander. In contrast the two grass pictures offer very little reference, perhaps a few small dragonfly if you look closely.
Mt. Constitution sits atop Orcas Island and is the highest point in the San Juan Islands, Washington. Views on a clear day are spectacular! Oregon’s Mount Baker is the prominent peak in the upper-right of this photo.
Earlier this summer three friends and I took advantage of Alaska’s 24-hour daylight to night hike Granite Tors in the Chena River State Recreation Area.
We started aaround 8:30 p.m. and finished the 15-mile loop trail around 3 a.m. We ran as much as possible of the challenging trail and took one or two snack breaks.
Two benefits are immediately noticeable when night hiking. Catching spectacular sunsets and avoiding scorching mid-day heat.
Two of my run hike partners descend toward some rock formations.
Sweeping vistas are common in the Chena River drainages.
During Alaska’s summer the sun often sets past midnight. This picture was taken around 12:30 a.m.
A forest fire scorched parts of the forest about 10 years ago.