One Man's Paradise

Anticipation

Winter made his first foray into central Alaska with snow and freezing temperatures. It seems unreal to read about fall colors just arriving in parts of the lower 48s. Nevertheless, the writing is on the wall: Winter is coming. I am taking it easy, currently. No work commitment, no deadlines. That gives me time to go through memory cards from last winter that are still loaded with some unedited images.

It makes quite a difference to sit in a warm cabin and look at the pictures taken at dawn, the coldest time of the day, when it takes some determination to step outside and set up the camera. In February the lowest temp was -45 degrees Fahrenheit. For most people that’s cold.

Nevertheless, the light and sounds in those circumstances are remarkable, I can’t say much about scent, since nose hair are frozen and nerve endings seem temporarily disengaged. Well, here are some pictures that bring back memories of a silent, cold winter morning in the Brooks Range.


Never forget that anticipation is an important part of life. Work’s important, family’s important, but without excitement, you have nothing. You’re cheating yourself if you refuse to enjoy what’s coming.”

― Nicholas Sparks


Ah, the quote. Why am I writing this? Am I looking forward to another winter in Alaska? The jury is still out on that. However, I am looking forward to unrestricted travel and a manageable pandemic. Please do your part to get this outbreak under control.

Cheers

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One Man's Paradise

Above the Arctic

The Arctic is a place that needs to be experienced, which is probably true for any place…

Words and images can only do so much, but what does vast, rugged, remote mean to you if you have not experienced frigid days hundreds of miles away from the next road, surrounded by swarms of mosquitoes, or standing on a mountain top, seeing ridges and swamps and lakes and rivers? What about the midnight sun or Northern lights. Or a herd of caribou, crossing the tundra with ease. Or musk oxen, that were once thriving in this inhospitable place…

As Emerson writes there is also something else about this place that touches, if we only take the time to experience it.


In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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One Man's Paradise

Appreciation

While others celebrate the end of summer, in the Arctic we experience the beginning of winter with below freezing temperatures and 24 hours of steady snowfall.

After a wet summer there were a few gorgeous fall days, a rich blueberry harvest, and a few memorable wildlife encounters. Without much warning winter did return and threw his white blanket on the landscape.

There is no question in my mind that this harsh and beautiful place deserves our appreciation and protection.



“You won’t save what you don’t love and you can’t love what you don’t know.”

Jacques Cousteau
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One Man's Paradise

Waiting for the Sun V

This is the Chandalar Shelf, birth place of the North fork of the Chandalar, formerly known as the Chandalar River. Early traders had named the river after a native tribe that hunted in the area: “Gens de Large” which, when written in English mutated into Chandalar. “Gens de Large” referred to “people of the open country”, “people who dwell far from the water” or simply “strong people” in reference to their strenuous life on the barren land. They were distinguished by their trade with the Kangmaligmut and by the manufacture of strong babiche, a type of cord or lacing of rawhide or sinew.


Gens de Large River Indian Natives, at Camp 29, on Robert Creek. Looking south. Klute District, Copper River Region, Alaska. 1898. – ID. Schrader, F.C. 347 – sfc00347 – U.S. Geological Survey – Public domain image

Chandalar Shelf is also a place where thousands of caribou spent the winter. Wind blown, the valley allows caribou to find food below the thin layer of snow. Apparently they can handle the cold alright, as long as there is a sufficient food supply.

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One Man's Paradise

Waiting for the Sun IV

Apricity – the warmth of the sun in winter


While looking for a quote to go with today’s image I came across the word “apricity”, which I had never heard before. The other day I mentioned to a colleague that it feels so much warmer today compared to yesterday. The day before it was overcast and -20 F. Today was sunny, clear skies. Same temperature. I guess our minds played a trick on us. It felt warmer, just because we could see the sun. Now I am wondering where apricity fits in… The warmth of the sun in winter. Real or simply imagined?

Stay warm.


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One Man's Paradise

Waiting for the Sun II

Another day…

I am amazed how folks have found ways during this pandemic to further their passions. I have enjoyed remote music sessions shared through the internet. In that spirit I reworked some earlier images, which I am sharing in the coming days.

Here is “Waiting for the Sun”.

Can I recommend Gnossienne No 1 by Erik Satie to go with that?


“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

Lewis Carroll
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One Man's Paradise

As Winter progresses…

The sun is barely creeping up above the horizon in this neck of the woods. Temperatures have been well below freezing for a couple weeks by now. Lakes and rivers are frozen over.


“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”

Frank Zappa


I missed the magic air bubbles trapped in ice this season, but I came across some interesting snow and ice formations.

Stay warm and play it safe.

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One Man's Paradise

Snowden Creek

Snowden Creek was named by Bob Marshall after Harry Snowden, the English name given to his Inupiat companion while visiting Wiseman, Alaska. Accordingly, the mountain towering above the creek is Snowden Mountain, a complex agglomerate of sharp ridges and menacing towers.

We decided to explore this pristine area attracted by the easy to reach dry creek bed left behind by the annual powerful spring snow melt. Several small streams fed into the narrowing canyon, supporting a layer of lush moss in the otherwise dry autumn landscape.

A noisy waterfall announces the end of our excursion. The water shoots down into a turquoise pool. A symmetrical sharp crack at the base of the waterfall draws my attention. Expanding thawing ice must have created this amazing display.

I see a curious similarity to our current state of affairs: a deeply divided nation with opposing views that prevent us from coming together.

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One Man's Paradise

Where We Live

So many places, so little time. That was the mantra before Covid. Now we are cooped up in our little countries. Before Old Man Winter arrives I decided to go on a road trip to see more of the land where we live.


Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Carl Sagan


What I came away with is this humble feeling that Earth is a beautiful place, mostly in areas where we leave her alone. And those places become fewer and fewer. Some of us need space, not crowds…

Maybe not all the time, but on occasion.

Be safe.

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One Man's Paradise

Summer in the Arctic


Here is half a dozen images shot in the Brooks Range in the Summer of 2020. The number of out of state visitors was way down due to the pandemic. A mountain range that offers true wilderness, if you manage to get away from the one and only road through the range.


“To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.”

Ansel Adams


Somebody said if you shoot portraits in black & white then you photograph the people’s soul. I believe that applies to landscapes as well.

Be safe.

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