Wild Rose Bloom

Wild Rose in Alaska

Wild Rose macro f/5.6, 1/60 sec

Took the time to wander my own backyard in search of some of the summer’s flowers. Came across this wild rose which was still in the process of blooming. Most of the other roses had bloomed and were losing their bright red color and becoming the more muted pink they become later on.

Hiking Angel Rocks

Angel Rocks trail is a popular destination for Fairbanks people looking for a great hike close to town with beautiful scenery. It is located around 50 miles drive out Chena Hot Springs road on the right. The trail is well marked and makes a winding, switchback path to the granitic angel rocks themselves. From the top you can see much of the Chena River valley. As an extension, it is possible to hike another 6.5 miles from the top to the hot springs themselves located down the road.

Chena river and angel rocks trail

The Chena river tributary with angel rocks visible in the background

Although the sky was a dull gray and had very little to add to my images, I enjoyed my time hiking and wading into the water for interesting angles. I also tried a little gold panning (to no avail) later in the evening despite the water turning your hands a painful numb nearly on contact.

The lower regions of the trail have multiple beaver dams and can be a great place to stop and play fetch with your dogs if they aren’t tired enough from the hike. Although other areas around Alaska are showing some signs of waking for summer, I found that most of the vegetation on the Angel Rocks trail had not yet started to show any signs of color. What little snow that is left on the trail is melting out fast though.

Melting ice wedge

Melting ice on the edge of the Chena River

Returning Geese

It’s that time of year again when the roads begin to melt and with that, all the accumulated trash from the winter that has been cryogenically frozen begins to thaw and reanimate itself to be blown around by passing cars. It is Spring! Smells have started to return, some good, some better left alone. Along with the warmer weather the light is also quickly defeating the darkness, giving us over 14 hours of daylight to play in and enjoy. For me, however, these past few evenings, the light has also meant insomnia. I am writing this from a sleepy stupor after what seems like 72 hours without rest. This needs to stop.

But on to what this post was originally about. The geese will soon be back from their southern sojourn, feeding and breeding and telling all of us in the north that summer is just around the corner.

Geese walking in front of trees

Geese walking in single file in front of the fall trees

Yard Moose

One of the nice things about living a little ways outside of town in Alaska is that you are occasionally greeted by wildlife in your yard. This year we have had a momma moose and her two yearlings stop in now and again to munch on some of the alder trees we have on our property. The other day I took the opportunity to take some close shots of the mom without her being alarmed by my presence (from out our house window).

Female mother moose eating alder trees

Momma moose eating

After she became accustomed to the sound of my shutter she soon relaxed and continued to peruse our great selection of herbivore delights. This continued for around 20 minuted before she decided that she would take a moment to herself and lie down. Nothing like a nap after a good meal! She gave us a great yawn that had both Meagan and I laughing despite trying to keep quite. Her rest was short lived however as her two adolescent children came crashing through the woods towards her demanding that they move on.

Yawning Moose

Mother moose taking a well deserved break

It was a nice moment to share with the mother moose and a reminder of how important it is that we learn to respect and share the land with all the species that coexist within it.

2011 GCI Open North American Championship sled dog race

Day two of the ONAC race series has taken place today in downtown Fairbanks with day 3 and the final day happeningĀ  tomorrow. The ONAC race is an exciting event each spring in Fairbanks with mushers running their teams down 2nd Ave downtown, onto the Chena River and around the Alaska Dog Musher Assoc. trails via Noyes Slough. The 20 mile race takes mushers around 60 minutes to complete with many mushers running upwards of 14 dogs to a team.

Many more images of the first two days of racing can be viewed in my ONAC album

ONAC dog racer

ONAC racer climbing out of Chena onto 2nd Ave

Sled dog looking out of Truck

Sled dog resting after racing

Ice Alaska World Ice Art Championships

Every February and March in Fairbanks we get a host of world class ice carvers to compete in the World Ice Art Championships. This year we saw some amazing artists including Junichi Nakamura the artist who with his teams took first in both the realistic multi block and single block events this year! The park is still open for people to look at the ice art, but the longer you wait the more the sun takes its tole on these beautiful sculptures.ice art


Red Fox in the City

Red Fox in FairbanksWhile driving through downtown Fairbanks the other day I spotted this little red fox trying to cross an empty clearing. He was shy and you could tell that he was more than a little weary about crossing a big field without any cover. I pulled my Jeep over got out and started shooting from behind a snow berm from about 300 ft so that he would not be disturbed.

A few things that helped get this shot were my Canon 20D’s 1.6x crop sensor which allowed my 200mm lens to act like a 320mm lens and create a much better zoom range. Another trick that helps to shoot brightly lit snow scenes is to overexpose your images by 1-2 stops. This is needed to get nice bright white snow as opposed to the gray that point and shoot images come out looking like.

Common place in an uncommon place

When most people think of water in their homes they give very little thought to how it got there. Why would they, aside from knowing that it is drinkable the process for which it got there is probably very uninteresting. In Alaska however, people take a very hands on approach when it comes to their drinking water. Littered throughout the state and in many different settings there are watering holes. These watering holes can come in many different shapes and sizes from large banks of pumps where one can drive up and fill 250 gallon tank in the back of their truck, to small pipes stuck into the hillside were a spring slowly fills a 5 gallon jug. The idea is all the same, good clean water that you know exactly were it came from, your local watering hole. I wanted to share with you a few photos of my favorite watering hole near Fairbanks, Alaska.

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The Fox water shelter has been around for many years and has seen some improvements over the years as well. It started out as a small pipe you could hold a jug under, and is now a nice shelter complete with a holding tank and two dispensers. One thing hasn’t changed though, the people you meet there are friendly and will not think twice about holding a conversation with you. That’s because they’re your neighbors, it doesn’t matter if you don’t live across the street, when you are at the Fox watering hole you might as well.

Now it might seem strange to some people that Alaskan’s go through so much trouble to get water when they can just turn the faucet on right? …Wrong. Due to the remoteness, cold weather, and expense of putting in a well or water tank, many of us Alaskan’s simply do without. And why not, you wont miss it when you hear about your friend who’s heat quit and he ended up with a nasty flood when the heat came on and revealed all his burst water lines.

……

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I took these shots after work when I got the idea to go and photograph common places for locals that would seem uncommon to many others. I took along my new wireless flash triggers that I mentioned in my previous post which allowed me to get creative with the lighting. By placing a flash behind the half wall on the ground I was able to illuminate the inside of the shelter and show the people filling up even though I was loosing sun light (it is only February in Alaska).

Yukon Quest 2011

So looks like as of this morning Hugh Neff is leading the pack ahead of Hans Gatt having just left the Central checkpoint on their way to Fairbanks during the 2011 Yukon Quest.

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The racers are running in temps close to -35 F and some pretty strong winds is what I hear. Good luck to them and hope they can manage to keep warm and safe! I’ll be looking for them at the finish line.

Follow this link to see more mushing photos