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Chugach Backpacking

Portage Glacier and Lake, Chugach National Forest, Alaska.

Portage Glacier and Lake, Chugach National Forest, Alaska.

Hard to beat this camping site!  From a recent backpacking trip.

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2016 Alaska Brown Bear Photo Tour

A year and a half old cub from this past June's Photo Tour.

A year and a half old cub from this past June’s Photo Tour.

I have been doing two Alaska bear photo tours into Lake Clark for many years now, but that is going to change in 2016.  You see, I contributed one of my trips to Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris and it is now part of a very extensive Alaska tour going from the far North to South  (sold out) that I will be leading for them next year.

So unfortunately, that leaves me just one of these very popular tours for the summer of 2016.  So far, just from the wait list, and mailing list, five of the six spots quickly filled (I suppose that is a good reason to be on the mailing list).  But the good news is, if you are interested,  there is one spot left.  Let me know if you have any questions, otherwise follow the link for more information:  Alaska Bear Photo Tour.

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Portage Pass Trail

Janine with her backpack on the Portage Pass Trail, Whittier, Alaska.

Janine with her backpack at the top of the Portage Pass Trail, Whittier, Alaska.

Last Sunday night we hiked the Portage Pass Trail to Portage Glacier and Portage Lake, where we spent a wonderful night listening to the calving glacier while watching the changing light illuminate fields of fireweed.  It had been 9 years since I last hiked this trail.  Back then, getting to the lake required a lot of route finding and difficult bushwhacking in thick alders well over head high.  Today, the Chugach National Forest has improved the trail all the way to the lake – it now has to been one of the best hikes in South-central Alaska!  Maybe second only to the Harding Icefield Trail.

The trail begins just to the right (South) after you emerge from the tunnel into the town of Whittier.  Follow the signs to the limited parking area.  The entire distance from the trail head to the lake is about 2 miles, maybe a little more.  You do climb up and down about 800 vertical feet as you cross over the pass, but all and all, it is a easy trail with spectacular views of not only the lake and glacier, but also looking back at Prince William Sound.

Nine years ago when I hiked to the lake, not only was I the only person there, but it appeared I was the first person in weeks to visit this beautiful location.  Today?  Well the trail improvements have also brought a lot more visitors – Sunday evening I think there were a couple dozen hikers, often with kids visiting the same place.  So if you are looking for an easy trail with big benefits, look not further then Portage Pass Trail!

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Paddling Boarding Spencer Glacier

Stand up paddlers at Spencer Glacier, Chugach National Forest, Alaska.

Stand up paddlers at Spencer Glacier, Chugach National Forest, Alaska.

We debated about bringing our stand up paddle boards on the train to Spencer Glacier when we camped there earlier this week – in hindsight, I wish we had as it looked like a blast!  These nice folks did say we could borrow theirs, although I didn’t take them up on it. Those shorts would have made for a cold swim in case of a fall!

 

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Portage Glacier

Portage Glacier, Chugach National Forest, Alaska.

Portage Glacier, Chugach National Forest, Alaska.

Took advantage of the nice break in the weather for a couple of short backpacking trips – one to Portage Glacier and another one to Spencer Glacier.  Granted, Spencer Glacier involves as much riding on the Alaska Railroad as hiking, but it still counts!

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Antarctica Pictures

Gentoo Penguins near Danco Island, Antarctica.

Gentoo Penguins near Danco Island, Antarctica.

Another photo from Antarctica.  Click here to see more of our Antarctica photos from earlier trips.

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Best South Georgia Tour – Antarctica

King Penguins, Salisbury Plain, South Georgia

King Penguins, Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.

Save $1,000 on great trip to South Georgia!

More on that great deal in a minute.  First, let me explain what you are seeing.  This is thousands and thousands of King Penguins on the Salisbury Plain.  The brown birds you see are the year old chicks, also known as Oakum Boys.  This makes for a fascinating pattern.  In short, South Georgia has to be one of the most amazing places on this planet – period.  It is a place that anyone who is passionate about wildlife and nature should expedience at least one in their life.

I am a guide on the next three major trips Cheeseman’ Ecology Safaris has scheduled to Antarctica / South Georgia.   As you may know, I have also worked on the last three as well.  What is interesting, in the 20 years Cheesemans’ has been leading tours to the South Georgia / Antarctica, they have never had a situation where they had space left 3.5 months before the trip.  So because of this, they are now offering $1,000 for this upcoming trip to South Georgia for new sign-ups only.  Here is a link:  Cheesemans’ South Georgia Tour.  I do not see a mention this discount on their website, but when you call or email, you can tell them you heard it from me and I’m sure  they will honor it.

So why do I think this is a great trip?  For starters, there are 8 days of landings on South Georgia.  This should allow for a variety of weather and landing locations.  If you are going to take the time, and spend the money to travel this far, you want as many opportunities as possible.

Not only is this a longer trip then most, but we spend a lot of time on shore, and we do more landings – and will go to shore early and late, perfect for photographers.

It is a small ship, limited to just 100 passengers.  This give us the ability to ferry all the passengers to shore  quickly, and also allows us the ability to take everyone Zodiac cruising at the same time.

Experienced staff and crew including Tim and Pauline Carr who lived on this remote island for 14 years becoming the island’s sole permanent residents.

I could go on, but you can learn far more on the Cheesemans’ website.

 

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Gentoo Penguins, Antarctica

Gentoo Penguins near Danco Island, Antarctica.

Gentoo Penguins near Danco Island, Antarctica.

I haven’t had much of a chance to share images from last winters trip to South Georgia and Antarctica, so I thought I would share some more.  Cloudy days sure bring out the blues in the ice!

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Black Oystercatcher

Black Oystercatcher

Black Oystercatcher

Black Oystercatcher – another new photo from last month.

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Brown Bears

Brown bear family, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska.

Brown bear family, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska.

Another bear photo from last month because I love bears!

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Tree Swallows

Tree Swallows, Seward, Alaska.

Tree Swallows, Seward, Alaska.

This was yesterday from the home office.  We have a tree swallow family in the front yard, and a violet-green family in the back – love watching and hearing them, and knowing they eat tons of bugs!

They will likely fledge any day now.  Usually the mom places the bug way back into the chicks mouth, but here you can see she almost tosses the fly to the chick, maybe a teaching moment?

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King Eider Photo

King Eider, Alaska Arctic.

King Eider, Alaska Arctic.

A king eider from earlier this summer – maybe my new favorite bird!

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