Sunset atop San Juan’s Mt. Constitution

Mt. Constitution sits atop Orcas Island and is the highest point in the San Juan Islands, Washington. Views on a clear day are spectacular! Washingtons’s Mount Baker is the prominent peak in the upper-right of this photo.

Mt.Constitution

Scenery and a sandpiper

Above: The Eastern Alaska Range backdrops the Delta Clear Water, a spring-fed river in Interior Alaska. A small canoe can be seen in the lower third of the photo,

The Delta Clearwater is an Interior Alaska river true to its name: clearwater. An early summer float trip provided astounding views and some small wildlife.

Night hike of Granite Tors

Earlier this summer three friends and I took advantage of Alaska’s 24-hour daylight to night hike Granite Tors in the Chena River State Recreation Area.

We started aaround 8:30 p.m. and finished the 15-mile loop trail around 3 a.m. We ran as much as possible of the challenging trail and took one or two snack breaks.

Two benefits are immediately noticeable when night hiking. Catching spectacular sunsets and avoiding scorching mid-day heat.

Skiing World Class Thompson Pass

Above: Mt. Diamond backdrops Eli Sturm as he skies down a couloir in Thompson Pass, where the scenery and snow are world class. 

The 2,805 foot Thompson Pass pass is outside the coastal town of Valdez, and averages more than 550 inches of snow per year. Skiers and snowboarders travel from all over the world to make turns in Thompson. Copious runs are accessible right off the road, while endless mountains provide the potential for extended excursions. 

My friend Eli and myself made the six hour drive south from Fairbanks last Saturday for two very full days of riding. We mostly used climbing skins — directional skins you attach to the bottom of your skies to ascend mountains.

On the first day we skinned about 4.5 hours, climbing roughly 4,000 feet, to the top of a couloir, a steep narrow gully on a mountain. The result was some of the best and most scenic riding of my life. 

Descending towards Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass with spectacular snow.

Descending towards Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass with spectacular snow.

A skier traverses towards shade on the Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass.

A skier traverses towards shade on the Diamond Glacier in Thompson Pass.

Majestic Alaska: Castner Glacier

Some time ago I realized I live in one of the most stunning landscapes on the planet, yet fail to truly experience it. I call it the backyard syndrome: it’s so close you rarely walk through it. Not to say Alaska isn’t enormous, harsh and challenging. So more and more I have been taking to the trail.

A few weeks ago four people from the Alaska Alpine Club attempted to summit White Princess — a nearly 10,000 foot peak in the eastern Alaska Range.

The 9 mile approach up the Caster Glacier took all day, but bluebird skies always make great skiing. Unfortunately, bluebird skies didn’t stick around, and near-whiteout conditions high on the mountain nullified Sunday’s summit push. Absolutely no complaints though.

The photos are mostly 35mm film with two iPhone frames.

Dreamy cherry blossoms

Above: Water on whimsical cherry blossoms.

Dreamy is the current Weekly Photo Challenge. To me, dreamy conjures feelings of contrast. Dreams are often simultaneously crisp and cloudy. Things that don’t make sense feel true. Entire dreams can be vague narratives shrouded in mist, except for one hyperreal detail — perhaps a pair of eyes.

In these photographs a shallow depth of field helps create a dreamy and uncertain aesthetic. 

 

Moss on Mt. Rainier

Above: A small stream snakes through vibrant green moss on Mt. Rainier in Washington state. The picture reminds me how alive and diverse the mountain is, from the thunderous cracks and groans of enormous glaciers to the smallest bubbling stream sustaining a secluded ecosystem. The picture is a rough scan of color positive film, shot on Hasselblad.