Deena commented that my edited photos look “somewhat” surreal. True. The photos below were taken early in our Alaska tenure, and the surreal landscape is what my photographer’s eye saw.
We drove into snowy peaks above the clouds of mist that seemed to be our constant companion in Alaska. On one hand, the light rain was annoying; on the other, the mist created an atmosphere of mystery and uniqueness that we haven’t felt anywhere else in the world.
The Richardson Highway to Valdez (yes, the one of oil-spill fame) took us over Thompson Pass. This Florida boy just had to get out and photograph his foot in the snow – in the middle of summer! We don’t know other places that have picturesque waterfalls on the side of the road. It’s a good thing they added pull-outs to the road because I wasn’t the only one taking pictures!
Our hike up the ridge over Worthington Glacier, with a challenging vertical rise on a path barely wide enough for a single foot, led us to an amazing view of the glacier. And a reverse view of the beautiful valley where we had parked. (If you look closely you can see the roof of the ranger station.)
With such rugged passes and fog, we can only begin to imagine the life of the hardy pioneers who ventured into Alaska for fame and fortune.
The Kennecott Mine was once the richest copper mine in the world. It was depleted of profitable ore and finally abandoned in 1938. The Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, created in 1980, includes the remains of the mining operation, and a 14-storey mill building. The national park has hiking trails to one of the old mines on top of the mountain, and to Root Glacier. (Click any thumbnail for larger, lightbox view.)
Driving Alaska, every stretch of road rewards the gaze with another life-affirming landscape. Traveling south on the Richardson Highway from Tok, we saw dark clouds brooding over the increasingly larger mountains of the Wrangells chain. Alaska is a place of incredible mountain vistas, decaying glaciers, swift rivers and crystal lakes. It is a place where ancient gods argue, make love, create destiny, oblivious to us mortals.