Klondike Country

This was the place at the heart of the famed “Klondike” gold rush in 1896, and is still filled with remnants from that rich history.  Along the ‘Top of the World Highway’, 200 miles along a mountaintop from Dawson City, Yukon to Tok, Alaska, the artifacts are as plentiful as the amazing auroras.  I also spent some time bushwhacking through Tombstone Territorial, and another trip back there is high on my list.

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Choose your own adventure!  Finally got to see some of those elusive purple auroras.  Had to shoot this sign dark, otherwise you’d be able to read all the dumb chicken related town names, found in Chicken, Ak of course..
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I found this curious Grey Jay, aka. Whiskey Jack aka. Canadian Jay, along the Top of the World Highway.  She even came in for a landing, had me feeling like Snow White.

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An enormous gold dredge beached in Chicken.

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Tombstone Territorial Park has some of the most impressive mountains I’ve come across. Unfortunately circumstances and time restraints stopped me from exploring around here as much as I’d like, but that’s for another time I suppose.
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I loved the little line of autumn following a tiny stream down the mountain, though bushwhacking through alders is the pits.  About 10 miles, I ran into a grizzly.  Part of me would have rather been eaten than find my way back through this devilish undergrowth.
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These are tailings, the raw earth dumped out the dredge after its done its thing refining out the gold.
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They stretched on for miles!
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Another gold dredge, and why preservation of historical structures is important.

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The Great One, Denali

It took three trips, but I was finally able to see the mountain.  I visited Denali twice in winter, and both times it was completely shrouded in clouds.  I learned that 70% of people who visit Denali never get to see it, the weather being so frequently unforgiving.  But on my third attempt the following autumn, I couldn’t have asked for better conditions.  I arrived, by luck, 3 days before the only road in is bared for the winter, and only 6 other people got on the bus for backcountry access, I’d never felt more remote and alone, but not in a lonely way.  It was nice naturey feeling, knowing there was barely a soul or trace of mankind within 100 miles of me.  I had the mountains and the rivers to myself, and it was lovely.  Well, not totally to myself, lots of animal sighting including my first pack of wolves!  Unfortunately they were on the ridge opposite a massive valley so no worthwhile photos, but to hear a howl when the auroras started blazing away was an exhilarating experience.

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Peaking through autumn alders at a big ol brown bear.
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A really strong aurora flared up, visible even in the glow just after sunset.
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Massive dry river in late autumn, really hope to get back during the summer snow melt and get this same shot except with a raging river.
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A big male who still eyes a mom and cubs after being run off.
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This mountain blows my mind.
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The road here is probably about 4K ft elevation. Crazy to think its another 16,000′ up to the top.

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Even the ‘foothills’ are impressive.  Wish I could share this full image with you, its 25k pixels wide, and you can see every detail of every amazing peak.  Maybe on a video soon…
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That would have been an impressive bull for sure.
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Mama comforting her cubs after chasing off a male.

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Derp!

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Mama running off a male while the cubs try to keep it. It was wonderful to see these massive creatures move like a freight train up the steep terrain.

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Denali foothills showing off some impressive autumn.

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A strange igloo along the Denali highway.
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These aren’t even the peak.

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Ice Sculptures

Some awesome rewards for braving the cold of the Alaskan winter, I found all sorts of interesting ice formations in the form of frozen falls, glacial caves and lakes locked in 6′ of ice.  Granted it took about 6 months for me to regain feeling in my toes again, but at the time it seemed like a small price to pay for such wonderful and unique views.

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A cave cut into a thin glacier turns the whole world blue.
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Bubbles from lake bottom collect and get frozen in layers of ice at Abraham’s Lake.
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A small frozen falls in Maligne Canyon, Jasper, which I illuminated with some flashlights.

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A section of Wapta Falls, frozen solid.
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The view from behind the frozen falls pictured below.

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The falls frozen over in Johnston Canyon, Banff
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Falls in Maligne Canyon make a perfect playground for ice climbers.
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The Mendenhall glacier in Juneau cuts its way around the cliffside in its slow descent.

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A small falls was encased in a giant bell of ice, with a hole just big enough for me to fit a lens in.

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A wall of ice shows a bit of the Athabasca glacier under a winter’s worth of snowfall.

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Kennecott, Alaska

A collection of shots that I’m still catching up on from last winter’s trip, this bunch from around Wrangell-St. Elias, a remote national park in Alaska, as well as the remains of a lot of mining history and abandoned structures dotted along the Alaskan and Yukon wilderness.

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The remains of an old roadhouse somewhere along the Yukon highway.
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The ruins of a concentration mill, 7 stories into a hill, overlooking a serene frozen lake.

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It’s wonderful the gov’t stepped up to preserve this amazing slice of American history, the Kennecott copper mining town, overlooking a massive glacier.

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A trestle towards an old mining town hangs on to its last legs in the remote Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska. 

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Hatcher Pass, AK in Autumn

Amazing how much a few months can change a place.  This is the same mountain pass from the previous post.  Definitely a different feel from when its not encased in 10 feet of snow, and made for a much more enjoyable hiking.

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Not sure where the pooch came from, but it was nice to have some company for bit til she trotted off down the mountain.

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I found her people but she went off exploring the mountain on her own.  I need a mountain dog…

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This guy’s got alpine travel figured out.  I think when my knee finally goes I’m gonna go this route.

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Sketchy crossings,  no problem for the slow and steady…

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Autumn found in pockets amongst the pine.  There were also entire mountainsides which were a blanket of yellow birch and spruce.

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I’d been on the road for a week at this point, and hadn’t found a shower in awhile.  This is me, debating whether to brave the cold and take a bath in this lovely little alpine lake… Frigid but completely worth it.

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Nice little ptarmigan, funny little birds and not in the least bit shy.

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Colorado Ghost Towns and Abandoned Mines

I spent a few weeks driving around the Rockies in Colorado and finding all sorts of great places long abandoned and slowly returning to the earth. 
St. Elmo, a wonderful preserved little ghost town in the heart of the Sawatch Range, and the jumping off point to a number of old mining sites way up in the mountains.  
Along Colorado’s Scenic Alpine loop lies the ghost town of Animas Fork, an amazingly well preserved ghost town that has stood dormant since this mill closed more than 100 years ago.  
The bones of an old church jut out of a forest along Hwy 25 in eastern Colorado, the only remains of an old mining town which once thrived there.

The Blue Lagoon, Church Mountain and the original Geysir

A collection of images from around some of Iceland’s biggest tourist destinations.  The Blue Lagoon, a spa and pools filled with mineral rich runoff from the geothermal plant, Svartsengi.  Kirkjufell, Icelandic for Church Mountain for obviously reasons and from Geysir, the original namesake of geysers worldwide (although the images below are of Strokkur, an adjacent geyser which routinely erupts in heights up to 100 ft!)  The actual Geysir is infrequent, and may often go dormant for years at a time.  I visited this spot three times trying to get the right light, and over those days never once saw it erupt.  But fortunately, Strokkur goes off every 15 minutes or so I had plenty of action to capture… 

Auroras Over Iceland

Hope this post isn’t too green for you, I got incredibly lucky had many night of amazing light shows.  Never realized how fast they move, and it was the thrill of a lifetime to finally get to see this wonder snake its way across the sky.  I shot a bunch of time-lapse stuff too, and will have some great videos to accompany this soon.