I just returned from a photo trip to the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and my plans to access this amazing area took a delightful turn. Instead of hiking some 65-70 miles round trip through some seriously wet and difficult tundra travel, I caught a ride in and out by bush plane, thanks to pilots Steve Fox and Doug Doherty.
So what is the Bering Land Bridge? Many years ago during the Pleistocene Ice Age, sea level was about 300 feet lower due to the earth’s water being locked up in huge ice masses. This exposed a land mass between Siberia and the Western shores of Alaska’s Seward Peninsula. The word “bridge” implies a narrow strip, but it was up to 1000 miles wide. Most archeologists agree that it was across this land mass, also known as Beringia, that animals and people migrated from Asia to populate the Americas. It is currently just a short 55 miles between Siberia and Alaska, now covered by the Bering Sea. The Preserve is a primitive landscape, and host to bird migrations from six continents.
I have heard about this area for many years, and I thought it would be a fascinating place to explore. Thankfully, those initial plans of hiking 33 miles into the Preserve changed, although it would have been a fun accomplishment in sort of sick way. I spent time hiking around the Serpentine Hot Springs area, which is a primordial landscape dotted with granite tors that are volcanic remnants now visible due to erosion. I hiked around hundreds of these things, and their shapes and sizes are all uniquely different. That autumn colors were vibrant and I ate my good share of very, very sweet blueberries. The winds really raged for a day or two and virtually stripped all the leaves of the dwarf birch plants during my visit. I saw very little wildlife, and focused on landscapes, waiting for the light to do its special thing, which it eventually did but only for a very short time on my last afternoon. It was during this period that I had the chance to really portray the primordial, ancient, dramatic features of this landscape. Oh yes, and soaking in the hot springs after a day of hiking was a total bonus!