Picking 10 top photos from any year is an impossible task. But the process does provoke some fun reminiscence and thought. My last post included 100 favorites, but drilling that down to 10 led me on a path which resulted in all vertical images, and those that had a particular experience attached to them. Unfortunately, much of the experience will be lost on you, but I’ll give a brief comment to explain my choice.
I took this shot in March when I was standing in the middle of a frozen river in Alaska’s Brooks Range. The northern lights erupted and filled the giant sky with vivid and moving displays. I felt the immensity of this landscape by standing between the icy river under my feet and the colorful river in the sky above.
In June I ventured with a friend on a 180 mile wilderness trek into Alaska’s Brooks Range in the Arctic. It was raw, wild and rugged wilderness. We hiked 60 miles on foot up the Ribdon River, then 120 miles in our packrafts down the Ivishak River. This shot defines one of hundreds of little river crossings, some in water, some on aufeis. What an awesome journey.
In July I ventured south to the Kenai Peninsula to do some photography with friends Ron and Janine Niebrugge. We had a blast exploring the area, and especially the overnight trip to Bear Glacier Lagoon, where we paddled in perfectly calm weather. The second day was so sunny and warm that I took a little dip in the Gulf of Alaska and then we all sat in the sun on the black sand beach, looking out at the immense open ocean.
Summer in Alaska for the photographer means early mornings. It gets a little more reasonable in the southern part of the State. I took this shot at about 5:30 A.M., in Kenai Fjords National Park, before the sun rose. You never know what the weather will do in mountain country, and it is exhilarating when such good conditions greet you, regardless of how early it is.
In August I flew into the remote regions of the Brooks Range with my friends at Coyote Air. They dropped me off and I spent a week trekking around Mt. Igikpak, the tallest mountain in the Brooks. It was a vigorous week of climbing and scrambling up mountain slopes looking for wild views. It was mix of rain and sun, and some high solo adventure. Highlights were bathing in a mountain stream at 5000 feet, and feeling the physical exhilaration of human powered travel across rugged country.
In early September I packed my backpack for a short hike and packraft trip in Denali Park. I started out in falling snow, encountered a big male grizzly bear, crawled into a sleeping bag and woke to clearing skies. I then hiked up a river and over a pass and chose this spot to camp, due to that beautiful mountain view. It was a cold night, and I remember my hiking boots were frozen that morning.
In mid September I packed my backpack again and flew to Nome, Alaska, where I planned to hike 35 miles or so into the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve on the Seward Peninsula. As luck unfolded, I got a ride in on a plane instead, which saved days of slogging through the tundra. This image shows one of a hundreds of wild granite tors that define this tremendous landscape. This days started out in constant rain and gray skies, but unfolded into some wonderful light. This shot is particular special since I sprained my ankle two days earlier, but still managed to trek the ridges and make some wonderful shots.
Serpentine Hot Springs is located along the Serpentine River in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. Need I say that sliding into a natural hot springs tub after a long day of hiking and photographing is pure delight. This is the Serpentine River, right next to the natural hot springs. If you know anything about clouds, these mean high winds, and the day turned out to be crazy windy. So windy, I chose to camp at the Serpentine Cabin instead of up in the hills.
During October, I was back in the Brooks Range guiding a photo tour and the clouds parted for just a short time to let the color of the sky come down to the river. I sat on the ice with two other photographers marveling at the silent beauty of this special place.
We had some crazy weather this last year during the photo tours I guide in October. Blizzards, blowing snow, high winds, all made for some interesting sights and experiences. The ice was forming on the Beaufort Sea, which put a group of us in a small boat eye to eye with this beautiful male polar bear. The media card I used for this shoot was corrupted and it took $400 and a few weeks at a data recovery lab to recover the photos.