September 15, Stewart, B.C.

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

Another Trip in to Fish Creek and Salmon Glacier

Up and out very early and made the 35 mile drive in to Stewart/Hyder while it was still dark. My game plan was to try and get up the Salmon Glacier Road in time to catch some early morning light, and hopefully some blue skies.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

As the Prius climbed up the road, I could see some pretty heavy cloud cover moving in and it looked like I wasn’t going to get my early morning shots.

Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

I did manage to snap a few shots before the blue sky disappeared completely …

Clouds Moving in on Salmon Glacier
Clouds Moving in on Salmon Glacier

… but it didn’t take long before the clouds were only allowing shafts of sunlight through. No sense in wasting the long trip up here so, since the cloudy conditions were conducive to shooting a couple of the small  waterfalls up here, I turned my camera around to concentrate on the uphill side of the road and slowly headed back down the mountain.

Waterfall Above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall Above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier

You’ll have to forgive my fixation with this type of waterfall shot …

Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier

… but i just have this thing about a single rock fixed in the center of a waterfall.

Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
A Little Autumn color
A Little Autumn color

A little local color and then on down to …

Fish Creek Bear Observation Site

Fish Creek Bear Observation Deck
Fish Creek Bear Observation Deck

A view of the platform above Fish Creek on this gloomy day. I wandered along the platform for about two hours patiently waiting in the drizzle and rain for a bear to show up. There were only a few other hardy ( foolhardy? ) souls here today who risked getting wet for an opportunity to see some bears in action.

Chum Salmon Spawning
Chum Salmon Spawning

There are still quite a few, a little worse for wear, chum salmon spawning in Fish Creek. One of the rangers here told me that this season has seen the best chum salmon run in nine years. The female fish ( on her side in the image above ) is fanning out a spot in the gravel, with her tail, where she will deposit her eggs. The male, the darker fish behind her, will then fertilize the eggs.

A Sign That Bears Are Around
A Sign That Bears Are Around

Salmon remains on the bank of the stream indicate that there are still bears in the area that are coming in here to feed.

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

And finally, on my third trip in here, this handsome fellow comes wading down the stream to try his luck!

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

Kind of a thrill to be this close to one of these beautiful animals. This guy is almost directly below me, only about 20 feet from where I am standing on the deck above.

I just happened to stumble on this blogger’s post on Fish Creek and was a little surprised to see what she was lucky enough to run into when visiting the site, click: here to check it out.

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September 13, 2015 Stewart, B.C.

Just One of Those Days!
Just One of Those Days!

Just a Spectacular Day !

This part of the world certainly has it’s fair share of gloomy, damp weather, and my trip through the region has experienced more dark days than sunny ones, to be sure.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Meziadin Provincial Park Campsite
Meziadin Provincial Park Campsite

But as I left my campsite at Meziadin Provincial park this morning …

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

… on the 35 mile trip down Route 37A to the small coastal towns of Stewart and Hyder, it became quickly apparent that today was going to be one of those blue sky days that leaves an indelible mark on your memory.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

Route 37A weaves it’s way down through the coastal mountains along a glacier fed stream that parallels the highway and those jagged mountains rise rapidly above the stream and loom over the road.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

The autumn colors, the golds of the aspens and birches and the reds and oranges of the shrubs and ground cover, certainly add to the spectacular scenery.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

Hidden above the steep mountains that tower over the valley are extensive glaciers that every now and then reveal themselves as their toes dip down to the valley they carved out below.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

Glacier fed waterfalls from the ice fields far above tumble to the river below as you approach the small town of Stewart, British Columbia.

Along the Road to Stewart
Along the Road to Stewart

The image above reveals only above one quarter of the height of this waterfall …

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

… somewhere way up there lies an enormous ice field, an example of which I shall find later in the day.

Salmon Glacier

Initially, way back before the disasters on the Top of the World Highway, I had planned to be here in Hyder the last week of August for the final chum salmon run on Fish Creek to get a chance at some grizzlies enjoying that last run of the season.

Muddy Toe of Salmon Glacier
Muddy Toe of Salmon Glacier

Even though I most likely had now missed that salmon run, I still wanted to come down here to once again experience the climb up the Salmon Glacier Road, a drive I did 22 years ago in my old Class C motorhome.

Camping Above Salmon Glacier, 1993
Camping Above Salmon Glacier, 1993
Half Way Up the Salmon Glacier Road
Half Way Up the Salmon Glacier Road
Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

The view at the top was every bit as wonderful as I remembered, perhaps even more so on this gorgeous day.

Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier

And when you turned around, the autumn colors of the upper slopes of the mountain just added to the wonder of this very special place.

Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier

WHAT A DAY ! Kind of makes up for missing the bears and the salmon run, but I think I will check out Fish Creek anyhow tomorrow, just in case there happen to be some stragglers still around.

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July 19, 2015 Wasilla, Alaska

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

A Gorgeous Day at Hatcher Pass

Yesterday I left Anchorage and travelled a short way north to Wasilla and set up in the Walmart parking lot. I am truly experiencing a real wilderness adventure the past week or so, boondocking first in Cabella’s parking lot and now at Walmart, but the truth of the matter is that I have yet to find a decent private campground in my Alaska travels. All have you packed in like sardines and seem very much overpriced for what they offer.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Three Rocks
Three Rocks

With nice weather predicted for today I was out and about before 7 AM and drove out the Wasilla-Fishhook Road heading for the Hatcher Pass. The Little Susitna River parallels the road as you gain elevation on the way up to the pass, so I had to stop for a few river shots.

Little Susitna River
Little Susitna River
Little Susitna River
Little Susitna River

The easily climbed paved road up to the State Historical Park at Hatcher Pass provides several great vantage points for photos as well as a couple of primitive campgrounds that would handle mid-sized rigs.

Hatcher Pass Mine State Historical Park
Hatcher Pass Mine State Historical Park

There are a few restored buildings at the State Park and some old mining facilities that have definitely suffered from years of abandonment.

Old Mine Works
Old Mine Works
Alaska Marmot Catching His Morning Rays
Alaska Marmot Catching His Morning Rays

There also was this Alaskan Marmot warming himself up in the early morning sun.

Alaska Marmot
Alaska Marmot

He appeared pretty used to human presence but kept a close eye on this photographer as I was capturing his image.

Hatcher Pass Road
Hatcher Pass Road

Hatcher Pass

Just before you reach the State Park, there is a gravel road that takes off to the left and heads up to Hatcher Pass itself. This is a little narrow and steep in a couple spots, and although it probably could be done in the motorhome, i wouldn’t recommend doing so.

Hatcher Pass
Hatcher Pass

The road climbs for a half mile or so to a small parking area at the very top where you can walk out a footpath for some pretty dramatic views of the valley below where the road then takes you eventually to Willow.

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds
Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

Some of the high meadows up here have this weird mounded texture. These mounds are about a yard wide and rise up about a foot or so in the center and are covered in moss.

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds
Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

I have no idea how or why these exist, and can’t say as I have ever encountered anything like them before.

Hatcher Pass
Hatcher Pass

At times today, I literally did have my head in the clouds.

Hatcher Pass View From the Top
Hatcher Pass View From the Top
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

As you can see, you are well above treeline up here and the air is crisp and clean, the distant view just simply spectacular.

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

The narrow gravel road, in relatively good shape, leads you down from the pass and to the town of Willow, about thirty miles away.

Mine Tailings
Mine Tailings

Along the road there are a few active mining operations as well as some abandoned ventures.

Sounding the Alarm
Sounding the Alarm

All along this road, especially at the higher elevations, were these ground squirrels, some of whom were a little wary of me …

The Lookout
The Lookout

…and some that probably had discovered that some people will throw them some little treats if they look cute and approach your vehicle.

Ground Squirrel Portrait
Ground Squirrel Portrait

This guy was one of the latter.

All along this road, I was constantly scanning the meadows and mountain slopes looking for wildlife. I was sure I would have to see some sheep or bears somewhere along the way, but I never saw anything, even though I stopped every mile or so and glasssed all the slopes. Perhaps the weekend warriors scared evrything off? It just looks like there would have to be wildlife up here.

Descending to Treeline
Descending to Treeline

The road eventually descends back below treeline, where you start to encounter fireweed once again.

Road to Willow
Road to Willow
Roadside Fireweed
Roadside Fireweed

This was close to a ninety mile round trip and it took me about six hours to make it around with all the stops for photographs. The Willow side of the mountains appears to be a very popular spot for the local ATV crowd.  THere were several pulloffs for camping along that section of the road and on this Sunday afternoon, almost all of them were occupied by campers with ATV’s. The State Park land doesn’t allow ATV’s.

If you are ever in the Wasilla area and have some decent weather, this is a must do trip.

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June 20, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Cottongrass
Cottongrass

Wildflowers and Wildlife

Cottongrass
Cottongrass

Driving all the back roads above the city of Homer, I run across patches of wildflowers here and there, nothing like the fields of wildflowers you may find in the west, in the lower forty-eight, but still a visual treat when you do discover them. This is a particularly dense patch of cotton grass growing alongside the road, a very neat plant I was able to get some nice shots of very early in the morning before the breeze came up.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Cottongrass
Cottongrass
Columbine
Columbine

I really haven’t come across much Columbine, just a couple of plants here and there, again nothing like in the mountainside meadows of Colorado for instance.

Jacob's Ladder
Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium is starting to appear more frequently.

Impossibly Blue
Impossibly Blue

And this is not a wildflower, but some form of perennial that caught my eye in a bed next to East End Road. I am not sure what this impossibly blue flower is as I have never seen it before, and I used to pour theough all the perennial flower catalogs back when I managed almost a half acre of perennials at my art gallery.

Impossibly Blue
Impossibly Blue
Homer Perennial Bed
Homer Perennial Bed

Gorgeous flower in a very nicely designed perennial bed.

Lupines
Lupines
Lupines
Lupines

And then there is the lupine … everywhere it seems. Unlike back in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, here there is only one color, this blue, or perhaps purple. At least I have yet to find any other color here.

Boatyard Lupine
Boatyard Lupine

As I said, lupine, everywhere.

Virginis
Virginis
Fireweed Road
Fireweed Road

What I am patiently waiting for, here in Homer, is for the fireweed to start blooming. I think it is a real shame this wonderful plant is labeled as a weed because it is just a beautiful flower that fills the fields and roadsides here above Homer.

Fireweed Farm
Fireweed Farm

Thes two images kind of illustrate that point quite well, and just happen to be images taken on the back roads above Homer some twenty two years ago on my last visit here. I have actually been able to locate the fireweed farm location and would like to get an image to show the penalties of progress. That wonderful scene is now bisected with dirt roads leading to not so scenic homes breaking up the previous expanse of fireweed, and though I’m sure a lot of the plant still survives, the beauty of that particular landscape has fallen victim to progress.

Angry Beach Eagle
Angry Beach Eagle
Takeoff
Takeoff

I enjoy watching the antics of the bald eagles on the beach every morning while I have my coffee. This guy was doing his angry eagle walk up the beach heading directly at me until my neighbor came out and slammed his door only thirty feet from the eagle and scared him off. There used to be a woman who fed the eagles here on the Homer Spit for many years so a lot of these birds probably are somewhat accustomed to approaching humans looking for handouts, though now it is illegal to feed them.

Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls
Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls
Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls
Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls

As I walked around the boat harbor very early in the AM I was startled by the number of gulls on the breakwater there.

Ring-necked Pheasant and Chicks
Ring-necked Pheasant and Chicks

And this one really suprised me, what I am quite sure has to be a Ring-necked Pheasant mom and chicks feeding along the dirt road at the end of East End Road. I had no idea these birds could survive this far north.

Ring-necked Pheasant Chick
Ring-necked Pheasant Chick
Moose and Calf
Moose and Calf
Moose Calf
Moose Calf

And finally my daily dose of moose. This mom was feeding along the edge of the road and when I stopped to watch, her calf came struggling up through the deep grass behind her. As the cow continued to move forward and browse, her calf was having a really hard time trying to keep up with her movements. At first I thought maybe the tall grass and bushes were just so thick, and tall, that perhaps that was it’s problem.

Mom and Injured Calf
Mom and Injured Calf

But when they finally crossed the road, it became quite clear that the poor little guy had somehow broken, or severely injured his left hind leg and was hobbling along on three legs.

Moose Calf
Moose Calf

Barely one in three moose calves survive their first summer, most here on the Kenai fall victim to black bears or grizzlies, although there is also a growing presence of wolves in the area. Not being able to run or keep up with a protective mom probably will mean a short life for this guy. Mother Nature is cruel.

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