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.

Beautiful Burgundy Bike – Sunset Scenery

Above: A tree silhouetted amongst wheat fields at sunset, Bourgognes region, France. 

It’s time for the third and final installment of the bike through Bourgognes region of france. Part One portrayed some of the many small villages and vast vineyards. Part Two  took a closer look at some of the facades of rural French architecture. Today we’ll take another look at Rochepot Castle, some dramatic scenery during a stunning sunset, and a  few more looks at grape vines. 

Unfortunately my Alaskan blood deals poorly with warm temperatures. The three liters of water I took was insufficient for 22 miles, and by the end I didn’t have any fluids to sweat out. The result was a suspected case of heat shock. All in all nothing too serious, does make me glad we waited to start the bike until afternoon when it was cooling off, rather then heating up in the morning. 

Beginning of Ski Season – Weekly Photo Challenge

Above: A quiet and foggy beginning to the 2013-2014 season at Skiland. December 7, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.

December 7, 2013, marked the start of the downhill season at Skiland – the farthest-north chairlift in North America. Opening day is often a mad dash; wake up after a party; corral people, some gear, and grub; then try to get there for first run at 10 a.m., because last run comes quick at 2:30 p.m.

This year was relaxed, waxed boards the night before and went to bed at a reasonable time. The next day lots of clouds made visibility difficult, but unseasonably warm temperatures – over 10 degrees fahrenheit – complemented  a snowpack that hide reasonable numbers of rocks! 

Not much lifts the spirits in dark and typically cold December then an early opening at the downhill. Here’s a few examples of rapidly-changing light from the chairlift. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

Above: The silhouette of a tree creates abstract patterns as colors cascade across Green Lake in Seattle, WA.

Using layers effectively can be a powerful way to captivate an audience. The effect of taking a three-dimensional scene and rendering it two-dimensional can be greatly minimized by offering multiple layers as focal plains to create depth.

An easy trick to think about is having something in the foreground, mid ground and background. Shoot through objects like fences, window frames or tree limbs to instantly add depth. Clouds, fog and mist all help individual layers stand out from each other, and adding a reflection can quickly increase depth.

WindowSeat

The edge of a window, clouds and shoreline make for three very distinct layers.

Reflections and multiple rooms with varied lighting create a confusing set of layers.

Multiple rooms with varied lighting and window reflections create a confusing set of layers.

Foreground, mid ground and background to create layers, with complementary colors to boot!

A Halloween murder… of ravens.

The wind whipped all Halloween. Soaring and swooping ravens took advantage of the strong drafts to have some fun. A flock of ravens is also called a murder, fitting for this last day of October.

Ravens have long held a place in lore. Tricksters and shape shifters are among the most common Alaska fables. Raven Steals The light is a popular North-West Native American story where the earth begins bathed in total darkness. Accounts vary, but the plot often involves the character of Raven pretending to be the grandson of an old man who holds all the light. Raven then steals it and shines it over earth and water.

“And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!”  – Edgar Allen Poe

Here a murder of ravens flies above UAF. © Robin Wood

Ravens and tree. Oct. 31, 2012.

Uniquely Alaskan towing expedition.

I don’t like to be overly critical of people I don’t know. Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. But multiple encounters with a failed towing operation has led me to conclude these people were largely unprepared, and should have more thoroughly thought out their chosen expedition.

En route to school last week I happened upon an interesting scene. An older-model Chevy dump truck was towing a trailer of some sort down Farmers Loop, a mostly two-lane road connecting east and west Fairbanks. According to the trooper the dump-truck’s engine blew. There are multiple violations I can determine: lack of appropriate flagging, reflectors, license plates or safety triangles. Though they did have bright-orange milk crates.

© Robin Wood

An Alaska State Trooper arrives on the scene of a dead vehicle to direct traffic.

Directing traffic on Farmers Loop Rd. in west Fairbanks.

I left right as a tow truck arrived on the scene, expecting never to see the uniquely Alaskan towing operating again. Wrong. Returning home late that night I found the truck and trailer sitting on the side of the road, having moved only a few-hundred yards.

Yellow streetlights and the moon illuminate a broken-down vehicle in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Finally, a full day after first encountering the operation, the truck was gone. Thinking never to see it again I was pleasantly surprised when five miles away I came upon a very slow-moving truck with hazard lights flashing. In front was the dump-truck and trailer combination, being pulled incredibly slowly by a John Deere loader.

Towing broken-down vehicles along Farmers Loop.

It’s anyone’s guess why this was being relocated in the first place. Maybe it’s a habitable trailer and someone needs it to live in. From a photography standpoint, any one of the situations – troopers directing traffic, night time or towing – would have made an interesting picture. But all three together tell a more complete story and provide a lovely sense of time passing.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Probably a little too much detail to be a true silhouette. But the dark outline of the boat emphasized against the cloudy background offers the same effect. I really like the boat far in the background. Image taken in Prince William Sound, outside Valdez, 2011.

Fishing vessels outside Valdez.

The second image is a true silhouette. Mountains at sunset in Denali National Park.

Mountains at sunset