View Full Version : Alaska trip. Advice. Partners ?
I am planning to travel to Alaska, around Aug 12-Sept 9. The tentative plan is: Kenai Fjords + maybe Glacier Bay if the weather is ok, Gates of the Artic (Arrigetch area), Denali (both NP and SP), Wrangel St-Elias (McCarthy) maybe Katmai. I will be mostly interested in quintessential grand Alaska landscapes of mountains, glaciers, icebergs, taiga, and tundra, which can be worked on a tripod. I don't plan to seek wildlife, but if an animal comes within reasonable distance of a 400mm lens, I wouldn't mind shooting :-) I will try to photograph on day hikes or short backpacking trips (due to heavy large format equipment), and to save a bit by camping out and not chartering more boats and airplanes than necessary.
I am looking for (a) recommendations on access and locations, (b) photographers interested in joining for parts of the trip.
Don't know Alaska, but the Yukon is still very cold at night in August. Even that grass covered patch of ground is cold in the daytime. Keep that in mind. Bring cold gear.
Dear Mr. Q. It has all been photographed before, ya' know. Why don't you just borrow a Spotmatic, leave your large format stuff at home, and have a really good time. Nobody will ever guess. (Besides, Grizzly bears prefer Deardorf to Pentax two to one.)
Kenai is nice. Near Seward there are many good hiking trails and a beautiful 30mi highway. Check the weather report before you go to Denali. Two years ago, when I was there in August, it's raining and cold (in the night aroung 40F). Along inside passage,it usually rains a lot in summer and fall. I didn't go far north. Yukon is actually beautiful. Glaciers are impressive but not that photogenic. It all depends on weather. And the state is so big, if you go too many places you will spend a lot of time on driving. Have a good trip. I wish that i could go again.
You might consider kayaking and camping around Resurrection Bay outside of Seward. Glaciers, mountains, icebergs abound. You can get a ferry to take you quickly away from developed areas. Though snow is very likely during your visit in places like Wrangell-St. Elias and Denali, the coastal areas are close to being temperate zones. By the way, did you know that you could see everything you listed within two hours' drive from Anchorage? Hal Gage has a famous series of tidal and siltflat shots just 30 minutes by car from Anchorage. I have a 5x7 friend who would love to have an excuse to drive up again to the Knik Glacier. It's simply impossible that all of Alaska has already been "done", especially in 4x5 or larger. The beauty of Alaska is that all developed areas are defined by wilderness, and not the opposite as in the most of the lower 48. Let me know if you're coming to Anchorage and maybe we could hook up.
Just south of Anchorage, towards the Seward, check out the Raven Glacier trail (Great out and back day hike - though some parts are steep). Continuing down towards the Kenai, stop at Explorer and Portage Glaciers. In the Seward area, Exit Glacier is a must. Easy access to the glacier and beautiful (but again steep) hike up to viewpoints of the Harding Icefield. You should get some good fall colors in Denali and you have a better chance of actually seeing the mountain in late August and September than in the earlier summer months. You may want to make (expensive) arrangements to stay at one of the lodges (Camp Denali?) inside the park to have access to good shots of the mountain at the 'golden' times of the day. It is a long day on a school bus from the park entrance to Wonder Lake and back. Hwy 8 from Denali (area) over towards Hwy 4 and Wrangel St-Elias is a somewhat rough (rental car do-able), but spectacular drive. This is a pretty remote area, so definitely know the weather before you leave, especially in early fall. Two great resources are the Milepost magazine and the Alaska Gazzeteer, published by DeLorme. Feel free to check out my website http://www.naturalorderphoto.com/alaska.htm and email me if you have any questions.
I understand that mosquito repellant is essential.
David R Munson
Though I've not yet been to Alaska, I've talked plenty with a cousin and uncle of mine who spent several months backpacking in Alaska. One thing they made rather clear was that you need to watch out for bears. I'm not trying to make bears sound like terrible monsters lurking in the underbrush just waiting to eat you, in fact they'll most often try to aboid you IF they know you're there. All the same, I suggest reading up on the matter and consider getting yourself some "bear repellent"- like pepper spray, only in a container like a fire extinguisher. Good luck and have a great trip!
Just a thought...
Mosquito repellant is not necessary after the middle of August. The danger from bears is seriously over-rated, especially by folks from outside. In 13 years hiking in Alaska I have had only a couple of bear encounters and rarely carry a gun anymore. Pepper spray is probably a waste of weight -- word is that our multicultural bears like their carne de turista well spiced ;-)
I currently live in North Pole, Alaska, just outside Fairbanks. I have lived in Alaska all my life and I have been all over the state. I suggest that you make sure you have a lot of time to spend here. The weather in August can be ... damp. The fall colors will be building, and peak in early September in interior Alaska. Don't be too worried about bears or bugs, but do bring warm clothes. Take time to go to Whitter which now has a car tunnel from Portage. I would be happy to correspond with you about the trip and update you with current conditions. If you make it this far North I would be happy to meet you. There is far too much to say here. Drop me a line so that I can pass along more information. Please contact me at: Hoho@gci.net - a good North Pole Address, eh?
I would recommend Katmai for something unusual. Very erie and desolate lanscapes "if" you catch it on a rare clear day. Other than the Katmai volcanic area, not much to see except sport fishing salmon and bears feeding on them. Steve M.
The view from the top of Mt. Foraker is supposed to be quite nice.
Weather can be iffy-I was there in July. You're sure you want to schlep a LF around?I did Kenai Peninsula-Homer/Denali with a clear view of Denali!/Kennicott-McCarthy-good for the old ore mill/Valdez.Mosquitos varied to location but large. I wore "bear bells" when hiking but Lehman's probably right. George Nedleman
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