Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Alaska 2014

I had the pleasure of going to Alaska with John Miller and spending a couple of weeks with him and his family on the Kenai Peninsula. I would like to thank them for their hospitality.

There were still a few bald eagles around.  This guy was in need of a bath.  He was covered in mud.

Our first hike on this trip started with a boat ride across Kachemak Bay to Halibut Cove.  During the boat ride we saw a small humpback swimming in very shallow water. From Halibut Cove we walked the trail to Grewingk Glacier Lake.  The sides of the trail were carpeted with ferns and mushrooms.

There was quite a variety of mushrooms along the trail.

This is Grewingk Glacier Lake with the glacier in the background.  It was cloudy many of the days we were in Alaska.  The small iceberg in the foreground almost looks like a fish with its mouth open.

Some fall color has started to appear.

We drove up to Hatcher Pass just a little north of Anchorage to the Independence Mine State Historical Park.  The peak production year for the two mines in this area was 1941 when 34,000 ounces of gold were produced.
During WWII the War Production Board designated gold mining as non-essential to the war effort so gold mining throughout the US came to a halt. Sheelite a tungsten ore was mined for a while during the war because tungsten was considered strategic.  But the ore quality was poor so the mine was idled.  Looks like you could mine these falls for tin today.


Eighteen families lived in nearby Boomtown. During the winters those families were basically stuck here.  They melted snow for water and the men struggled through snow deeper than they were tall to get to the mines.

The state has started rebuilding some of the mine buildings but they weren't as photographic as the ruins.

Day three of foggy/cloudy weather.


This is the Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik.  There are still a few communities that are primarily Russian families in Alaska.  Russia established the first permanent settlement in 1784. Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived 10 years later. 

John and I were too late to see natural occurring wildflowers but the City of Kenai planted a field of flowers just for us.


While capturing this picture a large mosquito landed on my camera.  As he started to fly off he forgot to let go and I felt a tug on the camera strap.  Well maybe not but he was pretty big.  The only saving grace for me is that they like John a lot better so he got most of the bites.



My favorite shot.  The camera captured the streak of light that fell on the irrigation pipe.

Sunset from Ninilchik beach with Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna volcanoes in the background.  We had two nice sunsets while we were in Alaska.  On the rest of the evenings you couldn't see across the water.

Trumpeter Swans at Reed Lake.

We stopped to hike to Carter Lake on our way to Seward. It was a beautiful day for a hike.  This Loon swam right up to us begging to have us take a picture.

We spent a couple of nights in Seward so we could hike the Harding Icefield Trail.  It is four miles up to the Icefield with an elevation gain of about 3300 feet.  We crossed a footbridge just below these falls.

One of our first good views of Exit Glacier.  It is hard to judge the scale in this photo, but if I was standing in one of those ice valleys you wouldn't be able to see me.

It was hard to believe there was enough snow above us at this point to support this much runoff. 

These two mountain goats were casually watching the hikers on the trail.

This one was only about 20 feet from the trail.


The Harding Icefield is in the background.  The icelfied covers over 1100 square miles and spawns 40 glaciers. I thought these red leaves provided a nice foreground for the photo.


John and his brother, Greg, are headed back down the trail. Exit Glacier feeds the meandering stream in the background.

Exit Glacier - I was surprised at how gray the top of the glacier was.

We were a little late for peak salmon season.  These Pink Salmon were fairly far from the ocean.

The day after the Harding Icefield hike we walked a fairly easy trail to the Skilak Lake overlook.  There were some good views but it was another cloudy day.  On both the Harding Icefield and Skilak Lake trails we did see bears but they were small dots in the distance.  The bears were feeding on berries above the treeline. 

There are moose everywhere on the Kenai Peninsula.  One day we saw eight from the road. Over 190 moose were killed on the Kenai highways last year.  Only about a third of that number were killed by hunters. 

It was bull moose hunting season while were we in Alaska.  We didn't see one male moose but we did see lots of females with calves.  This moose had two calves but only one is in this photo.

Our last hike was to Gull Rock near Hope Alaska.  The tide was out so you can see the mud flats in Turnagain Bay.  The mud flats are like quicksand so you never want to walk on them. 

John catching his breath as we near the end of a twelve mile hike.

The sun popped out for a few hours so we stopped at a few roadside lakes for reflection pictures.

Reed Lake Reflection

Trumpeter Swans 

Well that's all for Alaska.  The next blog will either be from Nepal or shortly after my return from Nepal in November.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Icefields Parkway and Jasper National Park

This blog covers the Canadian Rockies from Lake Louise to Jasper.  The Icefield Parkways is a beautiful drive.

We started the third day with a 3-1/2 mile walk to the Plains Glacier Tea House above Lake Louise.  Shown in this picture is a Clark's Jay.

There were a few climbers just off of the trail to the tea house.

A bear cub chowing down on berries along side the Icefield Parkway. I kept looking for momma bear but I couldn't find her.  She must not have been in the immediate area which was fortunate for people who were way too close to the cub.

Fireweed flowers along side Mosquito Creek.  It rained a little this morning so you can see all of the water drops on the flowers.

The Bow River at the Mosquito Creek junction.  While not a great picture I had to put this in the blog as a memorial to my lens cap.  It was floating down river much faster than I could move.

A better Bow River shot.

Mistaya Canyon.  This canyon has no barricades or walkways. A good place to walk carefully.

The Mistaya River and Kaufmann Peaks.

The river churns as it flows through the narrow canyon.

Mistaya Oxbow and Epaulette Mountain


Silverhorn Creek and Mount Weed.


Peyto Lake.  The glacial runoff has suspended rock flakes that reflect the blue light.  While it is very pretty, light doesn't penetrate the water so there is little plant life and not many fish. 

Mosquito Creek.  As I hiked back to this location to take a picture I stepped on a four foot diameter boulder along side the creek.  The bank collapsed and the boulder and I rolled into the creek.  Fortunately I only got a wet foot and didn't get crush by a rolling boulder. 

Moss Waterfall

Day four started with a pre-dawn drive to Bow Lake.  This is a great place for early morning photos.

Crowfoot Mountain reflected in Bow Lake.

Fireweed reflections at Bow Lake.

Moraine Lake. This is a beautiful lake that is easy to reach.  Just arrive before 9 am if you want to get a spot in the parking lot.

We hiked to Helen Lake in the afternoon.  There had been a grizzly sighting on the trail early in the day.

I like the way the sun light played through these grasses.

One of two Helen Lake pictures.

Helen Lake

Dolomite Peak and some interesting clouds

This is the area where the grizzly bear was sighted.

I went to Herbert Lake four mornings to get a good sunrise picture.  The first morning there were clouds at the eastern horizon. Day two, very low clouds so no mountains.  Day three, fog so thick you couldn't see the lake.  Good thing it was only four miles from my bed.

On day six we drove to Jasper.  This is a reflection in Rampart Pond.

We hiked up to Parker Ridge to get a good view of the Saskatchewan Glacier. The glacier is two miles wide.

Athabasca Falls Canyon

Athabasca Falls and Mount Kerkeslin

Full moon photography at Patricia Lake. I used a headlamp to light the stump. This picture was taken at midnight.


The beginning of day seven and a hike to Mount Edith Cavell and Angel Glacier.  The trail to this area has a lot of bear activity so you must walk in groups of four or larger and have bear spray.  Kathy and I joined a family from Belgium and had a wonderful time.  Good thing they spoke English otherwise it might have been a long day.

We hiked up a steep path to 2800 meters to get a good view.


Kathy sat down on this rock and I thought this guy was going to climb into her lap.

We hike back to Moab Lake.  The only lake that I didn't think was picture worthy.

Pyramid Mountain reflection in Pyramid Lake.  I passed within 8 feet of two elks females on my way to this sunrise spot.


Maligne Canyon is another nice canyon trail.  There are four bridges across the canyon so there are lots of nice views.  The fifth bridge is gone so if you head that way skip that parking lot and trail.

These trees seem to be able to grow almost anywhere.  Not much soil here.

I thought the pothole was interesting.  The water is actually moving in the hole.

Medicine Lake is above Maligne Canyon.  This lake drains through a cave system into Maligne Canyon.  It is interesting to see waterfalls entering the side of the canyon in some areas.

Medicine Lake Slabs reflected in Pyramid Lake.

That all for the Canadian Rockies Blogs.  Tomorrow I am off to Kenai Alaska with John Miller.  Hope to publish a Kenai blog in a couple of weeks.