I recently spent a week in the Brooks Range hiking, photographing, and animal watching. It was the first time I have been in the Brooks since 2003 when I spent a little under a month kayaking down the Marsh Fork of the Canning river to Brownlow Point on the Arctic Ocean. The drive up the haul road hasn’t changed much from what I remember although there are more pavement sections, but this doesn’t detract too much from the wildness that you feel out there.
The arctic region is one of beauty and serenity. Not many places exist where you really do feel the extent and vastness of what surrounds you. The silence is only penetrated by the call of a migrating goose or perhaps the far off noise of a caribou foraging in the tundra.
I took only a handful of photos on the trip as most of the time was spent backpacking and I regretfully felt that a SLR was too much weight to take along. The lesson learned is that no matter how light you are trying to pack it is always necessary to have your camera close at hand. Carrying a nice zoom lens in the 20-135 mm range will greatly increase your likely hood of taking along your camera and can save you from a lot of regret later on when the light is just right and the wildlife could not be any better placed. Having just one lens will also keep your weight down and allow for less to think about while in the field.
Focusing on the light in the mountains and the changing sky was my primary focus, many of my shots from the trip are of darker skies looking onto sunny sloped mountains. The alyeska pipeline also provided a great foreground to compliment the natural lines of the many rivers like the Dietrich and Atigun.