I crossed the River Styx, and lived…

For me, summer is a time of chaos, long hours, travel, and moments of serenity found in nature. These are a sampling of images that tell a story of the first half of my summer field season. As a geologist for the State of Alaska I was fortunate to explore the Western Alaska Range’s Styx River and Kuskokwim  River regions by foot and by helicopter. There really is no better way to see the state. We were based out of the historic Rainy Pass Lodge, one of the oldest lodges in the state and also one of the first checkpoints on the iconic Iditarod dog sled race.

 

surreal lake

glassy puntilla lake

 

long exposure puntilla lake

Long exposure of puntilla lake

 

4th of July Fireworks

4th of July fireworks at Rainy Pass Lodge

 

northern volleyball

Volleyball at Rainy Pass Lodge

 

Puntilla lake float plane

Float plane taking off out of Puntilla lake

 

radio repeater setup

Radio repeaters and solar setup

 

Rainy pass lodge

Rainy Pass Lodge looking South

 

glacial lake swimming

Glacial lake swimming

 

GoPro selfie

Solo morning traverse

 

 

glacial geology

 

Steep slopes

Any sheep?

 

never ending mountains

Never ending mountains

 

rock and ice

Brightly colored slope

 

scree slope

The beckoning slope

 

colorful ridge

Ridge worker

 

helicopter pilot and view

 

women looking over ledge

The ponderer

 

summer slowers

Alpine flowers

 

sunny slope

Sun spot

 

narrow landing

Tight landing

 

helicopter fieldwork

Helicopter fieldwork

 

glacial recession panorama

Glacier recession

 

Foggy Morning

Foggy morning

 

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.

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.