Aerial View of Eagle River Valley

A bird's eye view of Eagle River Valley and Glacier Lake (the source of Eagle River). Last night I flew with a local pilot friend of mine to take some aerial of the valley where I live. It's always fascinating to see this area from a different perspective. Clouds were building over the mountains, blocking the direct sunlight over the areas I most wanted to photograph, so we will probably fly again in the next few days before the fall color is gone. Have a great Wednesday out there and thank you for following along!



Crow Pass

It was a long day but we made it over the Crow Pass Trail, down to Eagle River and to the Yukla Yurt in about 16 hours (21 miles with a 2,000' ascent followed by a 4,000' descent and numerous water crossings to boot). We started off a bit later than planned and, as a result, finished the final 8 miles in the dark. Many thanks to the crew - Tyler, Jennifer, Amanda, and of course, our fearless canine leader, Freija. We were dragging by the end but everyone arrived intact. I'd been saving this bottle of pinot noir that I brought back from Aurum Wines in 2014 - a winery I lived & worked at in New Zealand. I decided this was a worthwhile event to finally open and share it with friends. More photos to come. Thank you for all the well wishes before our departure and, as always, thank you for following along on my adventures.




Solstice Trek

One year ago my good friend Tyler Howie and I set off trekking on the Crow Pass Trail Pass Trail with his dog Freija leading the way. It was pouring rain when we started, which continued for the first 8 miles or so, eventually clearing off for a spectacular midnight sky. We are planning to do the hike again this year with pack rafts and float most of the way back to the Eagle River Nature Center. Traveling in a pack raft with my camera gear is going to be a new experience for me, so I've been spending some time on the river to get used to maneuvering before we depart.

Man & Best Backcountry Friend

Here is another image of and his faithful companion Freija, who is sporting her K-9 pack from Mountainsmith on our trek over the Crow Pass Trail last month. Recently, I've been catching up on editing photos in the lead-up to my Australian journey, which is barely one week away! In doing so, I am able to relive past moments and reminisce about what I was thinking and feeling at the time when an image was created. I took this just after we crossed Crow Pass and were passing by Raven Glacier. The sun had dipped behind the mountaintops and the temperature dropped sharply as we began our descent toward Eagle River Valley with a punishing headwind. The valley below was bathed in warm light, the last of which we would experience as the rain arrived the following morning and persisted throughout the rest of the trek. This was the turning point, when I realized we had truly left our creature comforts behind and were now at the mercy of the weather and the Alaskan backcountry. Stepping outside of one's comfort zone, this is when the best moments happen.

Heritage Falls and another moose encounter...

Day 3, Crow Pass Trail with Tyler Howie, the final stretch. Heritage Falls in autumn glory. Following our encounter with two bull moose at the river crossing the night before, we set up camp at Thunder Gorge, roughly 11 miles from our destination - Friends of Eagle River Nature Center. While packing up our gear the following morning and getting ready to make the final push home, we suddenly noticed another bull moose next to Thunder Creek, staring in our direction. My first thought was the two bulls from the night before were pursuing us, until it was apparent that this was a different moose and was on the trail of a cow, both were headed down the trail toward our camp. Tyler grabbed Freija’s collar and we darted back into the brush, just in time for the two moose to charge through our campsite and down the trail in the direction we were going to be headed. Fortunately nothing was damaged, nor did we encounter them on the way out. We arrived at the Nature Center just before 10 pm after nearly 8 hours of hiking from Thunder Gorge.

Crow Pass

A couple shots from our way up to and on top of Crow Pass on Tuesday. Approximately 3 miles and 2,000 vertical feet to the top, each step a brutal reminder that I was carrying more than 25% of my body weight in my pack, half of which was camera gear. I was happy to have used all the gear I carried throughout the trek, thereby justifying the extra effort.

Crow Pass Trek

I was planning starting the Crow Pass Trail today with my good friend and trekking partner Tyler Howie and his faithful dog Freija, but we decided to postpone until tomorrow due to high winds and heavy rain. If all goes as planned, we will start in Girdwood tomorrow, hike over the pass (to the left of the mountains pictured here) and spend two nights camped near Glacier Lake, right below Eagle Glacier, which is the source of Eagle River. The trail is 23 miles total with a 2,000-foot elevation gain going up to the pass followed by 4,000 feet down the other side to the river, plus we'll be adding the extra trip around the lake to the glacier. Autumn colors should be peaking at higher elevations and I hope to return with new images and stories to share.

Have a great week, everybody!


Various Water Crossings on the Crow Pass Trail

Keeping your feet dry on the Crow Pass Trail can be a chore, to say the least. Here are some of the various water crossings on the Eagle River side. Since I was carrying a lot of precious camera gear, I opted not to use on the logs at both Icicle and Thunder creeks and instead found shallower water to ford across. Have a great 4th of July, and be sure to get outside! Remember, all canvas prints at my online store are marked down 25% this week, use the promo code "JULY42016" at checkout.



The Edge of the Day

The most dramatic light is always on the edge of the day. Sunset over Eagle River, taken one week ago on my backcountry trek on the Crow Pass Trail with my good friend Tyler Howie. This was just before midnight as we were approaching Thunder Gorge, where we set up our camp. The rain let up and the sky was beautiful, so much that I chose to sleep on the gravel bar along the river rather than in the tent.

Solstice Sunset

The sun set on the longest day of the year this past week and the pendulum now swings in the other direction. From now until December 21, we will be losing daylight in the Northern Hemisphere while the southern half of the planet begins to gain light each day - perfect for my journey to Australia in November! After looking through my images from the backcountry camping adventure, I feel vindicated in adding 25 pounds of camera gear to my pack and lugging it nearly 30 miles over two days on the Crow Pass Trail. This is a two-minute exposure, taken just after midnight with a Nikon D700 camera body and 17-35mm lens, using a ten-stop neutral density filter system ("The Big Stopper") from Lee Filters. Happy summer to everyone north of the equator!