Best of Alaska
Top 50 Photos
Selected from over 10,000 Photos and Slides taken 1989-1996
During the seven years we were stationed in Alaska, I became interested in photography. In addition to taking a million photos of Spencer as he was growing up, I was fortunate to travel around the state with the Air Force Band. The band traveled to many remote sites accessible only by the military, including several bases on the Aleutian Islands (Adak and Shemya) and the interior of Alaska (Clear, Galena, and King Salmon).
I just finished a 2-year project scanning over 10,000 negatives and slides, and have selected the following 50 photos as my favorites.
(They are in no particular order)
Hope you like them too.
1. Bald Eagle
This was actually an injured eagle which was nursed back to health at the base raptor rehabilitation center. Just before being released back into the wild, the caretaker allowed me to take a few photos, with the Chugach Mountains in the background.
2. Lake Hood, Anchorage
Lake Hood is home to one of the busiest float plane airports in the state. During the summer tourist season, a plane takes off every 1 - 2 minutes.
The lights of Anchorage and the Chugach Mountains are visible in the background.
3. Brooks Falls, Alaska
Located in Katmai National Park in southwest Alaska, near the point where the Aleutian Islands start branching off the mainland.
Dozens of bears gather at Brooks Falls to feed on the salmon migrating upstream to spawn, to gain weight and prepare for winter hibernation.
4. Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park
5. Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park
These two cubs were waiting for mom to bring breakfast.
6. Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park
Mmm, more tourists. The last ones were very tasty!
The only way into the area is by floatplane, or river boat from King Salmon Air Base.
7. Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage
This float plane airport is located on the north side of the base.
This is autumn - around early September. Note the trees are yellow, but the line of snow is working its way down the mountains.
You can see winter approaching.
8. Colony Glacier (R) and Knik Glacier (L) meet about 75 miles east of Anchorage.
GPS: LAT 61.362300 LON -148.144068
The dark line in the ice (right side of photo) is a moraine - made by gravel rubbed off the mountains as the glaciers slowly pass.
9. Portage Glacier, west of Whittier
GPS: LAT 60.751434 LON -148.797120
This rapidly receding glacier was once visible across the lake from the Portage Glacier Visitors Center.
Now it has receded around the corner of the valley.
10. Sleeping Lady Mountain, due west from Anchorage across Cook Inlet
Legend has is this is the sleeping princess waiting for her warrior husband to return.
11. Hiking in the Chugach Mountains east of Anchorage.
12. Caribou herds migrate through Denali National Park and points north throughout the year.
This photo was taken on the Parks Highway north of Denali National Park, near Healy.
13. The Alaska Railroad is a great way to see Alaska.
Here, the train passes through Denali National Park on its way to Fairbanks.
Again, its autumn and you can see the "termination dust" (snow) working its way down the mountains to terminate summer.
14. Denali National Park sunrise.
I often volunteered to drive the equipment truck from Anchorage to Fairbanks, so I had an entire day by myself to stop and take photos.
15. Denali (AKA Mt McKinley) - the highest point in North America.
This is the back-side of the mountain. Most photos are taken by tourists from the highway.
In the winter, the park access road is open to traffic, although at minus 40, I had the million-acre park all to myself most of the morning.
I left the engine and heater running the entire time, since I was 20 miles from the highway.
16. Dillingham, Bristol Bay
Located in south-west Alaska, near the point the Aleutian Islands branch off the mainland.
Bristol Bay is best known for its seafood - mostly salmon.
I caught this sunset photo as I was hiking around the town look for photos. It was February and temps were below zero.
17. Remote village of Aleknagik, by the Wood-Tikchik Lake System and State Park
GPS: LAT 59.270006 LON -158.625036
This is such a quiet and serene fishing village in Southwest Alaska, just west of Dillingham.
18. Canada Geese on Otter Lake, Fort Richardson, near Anchorage
Fall colors with winter snow working its way down the mountains.
19. Northern lights over base housing at Elmendorf Air Force Base, near Anchorage
We lived in the 3rd unit of the first building on the right foreground.
20. Elmendorf Air Force Base just after Mt Spurr volcano erupted nearby.
The base was covered in 1 - 2 inches of powdery volcanic ash. It took weeks to clean up.
That's not fog - it's ash in the air. Everyone wore masks.
21. Sunset at the Elmendorf Air Force Base totem pole.
22. Cold winter weather in North Pole (near Fairbanks - not the real north pole)
23. View of the Alaska Pipeline near Fairbanks looking north.
24. Hang glider at Hatcher's Pass - about an hour northeast of Anchorage.
There was a huge gold mine in this area during the gold rush days.
25. Start of the Iditarod dog sled race in Anchorage.
This is a ceremonial start. The racers run about a mile, stop, pack up, and restart an hour away in Wasilla.
Some years, they have to truck in snow so the sleds can run over the streets.
26. Shed, tools, and flowers at Crow Creek gold mine (south of Anchorage)
27. Near Valdez - view of river and valley.
There are countless rivers like this fed from melting snow from the mountains.
28. Portage Glacier, south of Anchorage
29. Eagle Lake, a popular hiking destination about 5 miles east of Anchorage.
30. Seldovia - can be reached only by boat or floatplane.
Located across the Kachemak Bay south of Homer.
31. Another view from Seldovia.
32. Close-up of ground vegetation near King Salmon in southwest Alaska.
33. Military and airplane folks will recognize the significance of this photo.
In the early 1990s, a flight of Russian Su-27 fighters stopped by Elmendorf Air Force Base to refuel on their way to an air show in Canada.
This was the first time Russian planes had landed in Alaska since WWII.
It was a major public relations step forward as we hosted our guests for several days.
American F-15 (foreground) and Russian Su-27 (background)
34. Seagull watching for supper.
Adak - large Aleutian Island with Naval Anti-Submarine base.
35. Farther out the Aleutian Islands - in fact, near the very westward tip of the chain - lies Shemya.
This was a forward base, just minutes from Russia, with several F-15 fighters on high alert during the cold war.
This volcanic island is only about 2 miles long by 1/2 mile wide. The north shore is an interesting contrast of volcanic rock, wildlife, and vegetation.
36. North shore of Shemya.
Seagull, volcanic rocks, and hardy flowers coexist in this peaceful setting.
37. Shemya Island, north shore
At low tide, columns of volcanic rock show how the ocean has eroded the lower sections to form mushroom-shaped towers.
These towers can be up to 30 feet tall.
38. In the midst of the harsh conditions of Shemya, this Lapland Longspur was chirping away.
Interesting to find a small bird like this on a remote island in the middle of the Bering Sea.
39. In World War II, the Japanese actually invaded and held Attu, the next Aleutian Island past Shemya.
This bunker was probably occupied by cold, lonely soldiers looking out this window at the enemy just miles away.
Later, when the US attacked to regain Attu, they fought a determined enemy who fought to the death.
Over 1,000 American soldiers were injured and 580 killed in this little-known battle of WWII.
More information on the Aleutian Campaign: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleutian_Islands_Campaign
More information on the Battle of Attu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Attu
40. Peaceful sunrise on Shemya Island.
Shemya is so far west, it is actually close to the eastern-most point in the United States, since it is west of the International Date Line.
This is actually one of the first sunrises each day in the USA.
41. Moon over Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage.
42. Sunset over Turnagain Arm by Anchorage.
Ice chunks fill the bay during winter.
43. The Alaska Railroad heading south from Anchorage to Seward in winter.
This is a very scenic train ride!!
44. I hiked for days and climbed a tall mountain in winter to get this photo of a Dall Sheep.
Actually, I got in the car and drove to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage.
45. I saw this bunny when I was on one of my winter hikes near Anchorage.
46. Denali National Park - spring time.
Snow is melting off the lowlands.
47. Mt Spurr (volcano) looking west from Anchorage
48. Jack Wade gold dredge along the Top of the World Highway (Taylor Highway) near Chicken, AK
49. The northern-most land border port in Alaska - Poker Creek (photo taken in 2007)
50. Denali Viewpoint along Parks Highway, about 100 miles north of Anchorage. (Photo taken about 1995)