Fall around Fairbanks

Above: The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute, with a satellite-receiving dish on the roof, sits tucked among trees as a runner makes her away along trails far below, visibly only by a bright blue jacket. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game the boreal forest, that which is found around Interior Alaska, is largest terrestrial ecosystem on earth. 

Interior Alaska’s fall comes fast, and leaves even faster. With only a small variety deciduous trees we don’t get a large variety of color, but the bright yellow leaves among dark green spruce still make dramatic scenes. It can take less than one week for trees to shed their leaves if a hard frost is followed by a strong wind or rain. 

Angle Rocks in spring and fall

Above: Sun shines on a granite tor of Angle Rocks and trees in golden fall colors, to the right the Chena River snakes through a valley cast in shadows. September 11, 2014.

Angle Rocks is almost assuredly the most popular hiking spot near Fairbanks. It’s a 3.5-mile loop in the Chena River State Recreation Area, about 45 miles from Fairbanks, that takes trekkers through and around a variety of tors formed from granite.

The tors were formed hundreds of millions of years ago when magma bubbled up from the Earth’s mantel, but failed break through the ground. They then slowly become revealed as erosion striped the surrounding land, exposing the giant rocks.

I hiked Angle Rocks twice this summer, once in spring and once in fall. Both seasons provided fantastic and vibrant colors. The cool and calm spring greens and the energetic and exciting gold of fall.

Potatoes and Romanesco

Above: The odd green color makes romanesco feel even more bizarre.

Continuing the harvest theme from my last post about blueberries, it is fall after all, today includes some vegetables grown in my garden. Few things are more satisfying then a delicious home-cooked meal made with food you grew. Much like the blueberries, it can be difficult to find time to photograph vegetables rather then planting, picking or eating them. So here’s a few photos of some photogenic plants.

Potatoes are my family’s main crop, and come in many varieties. My favorite is probably Irish Reds. They work for many recipes, and look fantastic.

Fresh washed Irish Reds.

Fresh washed Irish Reds.

One vegetable perhaps more known for its appearance then its use as a food is romanesco, from the cauliflower family. Occasionally called “martian vegetable” for the lime green color and spiraling fractals that form the structure, it can be a very perplexing plant.

I chose black and white to emphasize the plants form.

Spiraling romanesco - repeating patterns play with the eye.

Spiraling romanesco – repeating patterns play with the eye.

Vibrant and Healthy Blueberries

Above: Handfull and bucket full of berries.

Fall in Alaska brings much more then decreasing temperatures and less daylight. Gorgeous colors fill the hills while harvests fill the pantries. The near total daylight of summer allows great success over the short growing season. The harsher, cooler climate vegetation endure make for sweet and succulent food.

Blueberries are both incredibly tasty and incredibly healthy. Packed with antioxidants, blueberries are often called a brain food for their anti-aging and protection-properties for brain neurons. A 2012 article from Alaska Dispatch describes how antioxidants “pick up loose oxygen-seeking substances that, left to roam, will ultimately find a healthy cell to deplete.” WIld Alaskan berries have repeatedly tested to be much higher then farmed berries in health benefits.

The vibrant colors also fit in nicely with the Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated. 

Berries topped with dew rest on a branch.

Berries topped with dew rest on a branch.

A sea of color.

A sea of color.