Aug 102017

The vastness of Alaska is practically impossible to grasp, even when it’s right in front of you. One way I like to help describe it is that the drive I’ve done now a couple of times from Anchorage to Anchorage (via Denali, Fairbanks, and Tok) makes a 1,300 mile circle. Yet it looks downright insignificant when superimposed on a map of the entire state. The place is just…immense, no matter where you are: on the rivers, in the mountains, or in the interior. No wonder Alaska holds such a mystical, far-away reputation.

In June and July, I spent another month of my life in that great state, doing a reprise of earlier trips with my cousin, Mike. With a friend, we first drove those 1,300 miles, and then we spent 16 happy (if cold) days on the Alsek River, crossing in and out of Alaska and British Columbia along the way. On several occasions, I got to witness the land slipping by under the wings of an airplane. This blog is dedicated to those varied and artful aerial views. Enjoy.

The first batch of photos is from the flight between Anchorage and Juneau, along the southeastern coast overlooking the mountains, icefields and glacial rivers of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Glacier Bay National Park.

mudflats & river/lake/ponds

glacier to lake with icebergs

further out, same glacier

The second batch is from our flightseeing ride from Wonder Lake, 92 miles int the backcountry of Denali Park out to the Parks Highway near the town of Denali. (Our pilot grew up in…Grand Rapids, Michigan!) These photos show some of the terrain of the interior as well as the western view of the Denali massif. Although the mountain itself was mostly withdrawn behind a curtain of clouds, we could sense the enormity of it all (plus, we had wonderful views of Denali earlier that day). Our flight took us over Muldrow Glacier, which is one of the less-common climbing routes for mountaineers on the big mountain (and the one favored by NOLS, the wilderness education school whose history I was honored to write last year).

winding river, tundra/spruce forests

kettle ponds and a lake

Muldrow Icefall

hanging ice/steep snowfields

huge crevasses on the Muldrow Icefall

sweep of the glacier with mountains & moraine

looking up the glaciers as two join with medial moraine between

mountainous color pallette, into the distance

sheer mountain cirque wilderness

No matter where you go in the state, Alaska demands a sense of wonder and appreciation for All Things Wild. It is one of my favorite places.

  2 Responses to “Aerial Alaska”

  1. Stunning photographs! Thank you for sharing, Kate!

  2. Thanks – very nice photos, Kate. After nine years of retirement in Arizona, I still miss Alaska, having spent ten years in Fairbanks, where I got to fly my old 1959 Cessna 182A all over the State.

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