Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Bicycle Odyssey

Scott Christy and his wife Jean Tam have contributed material for a number of blog posts in the past. This time they spent this fall travelling through select parts of New England on bicycles, fom Maine to Virginia. They rode for at least 400 miles through some very scenic and historic areas. That is Jean in Maine in the photo above.
They were accompanied on parts of their journey by friends, and Scott's sister. They rode collapsible bicycles that they could stow in their small airplane. They tried to avoid roads or trails open to motorized vehicles. They camped wherever they could.

New England is famous for its brilliant Autumn colors, and Jean And Scott hit the region during prime leaf transition.
A rustic covered bridge.
Just like, The Bridges of Madison County. Remember that movie?

I guess that this is some kind of Oak.

This photo reminds me of another old movie, On Golden Pond. This scene only lacks a loon. Speaking of loons, Jean and Scott live next to a small lake, (Connor's Lake) in Anchorage. They built and maintain a floating platform that is used by a nesting pair of Pacific Loons every year. They added loon cams to monitor the progress of egg hatching etc. Cornell Lab of Ornithology hosts a live feed of these loons on their website during the nesting season. I dont have the link on hand, but it's something like, www.cornell.edu.
A very picturesque, coastal hamlet in Maine.
This must be Red Maple.

The Maine coast.

Now it's on to points South. Stay tuned for more of Jean & Scott's travels through New England.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Artists For Conservation etc.

Right now it's the time of year for the annual Artists For Conservation book to come out. The rabbit painting which is the current header for this blog was in last year's book. It is quite an honor to be accepted into this organization which limits it's worldwide membership of nature oriented artists to 500.
This year I entered my Muskoxen painting, called, Shaggy Beasts. About 100 paintings get chosen for the book. It made the cut, Yippee!
Along with the book, there is a companion calendar. Being chosen for last year's calendar was one of the highlights of my artistic carreer.
Imagine my surprize when I found this painting also included in this year's calendar. What an unexpected thrill. Frankly I think that there were many other paintings in the book that deserved to be in the calendar more than this painting.

I'll flesh this post out with some winter shots of the Coastal Trail.
I know that I have included very similar views in the past. I have not gone anywhere good in a while.

Sleeping Lady, also known as Mount Susitna. The Coastal Trail is a barren place in the winter.
There is usually something living to see, but it can be a lot of walking before you see any signs of life.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Let's Get Vertical

Horizontal photos fit the format of a blog much better; but this post is all about vertically oriented photos. See the footprints of some unknown animal leading to the water? This is the Eagle River Valley, on the edge of Chugach State Park. A favorite place of mine. I lived twelve miles downriver from here for thirteen years.
Notice that this is the same peak as the former photo? It was also featured upside down in the last post; Polar Bear Peak, ( in the summer) with it's hanging glacier.
.And a sinewy waterfall on a mountain slope in the Eagle River Valley..
Another dramatic Autumn vista in the Eagle River Valley.
Now for some of the wildlife of the Eagle River Valley, like this Rock Ptarmigan, high on a slope above the valley floor.
This is not another ptarmigan, but a close relative from down in the bottom of the valley. It's a Spruce Hen. These two species of game bird can be quite tasty. They can also be very tough and gamey, depending on what they have been eating.
When this fledgeling Great-horned Owl reaches adulthood, it will no doubt happily feast upon either of the former birds. It was right near the Eagle River Nature Center.
A Hermit Thrush carries a beak full of worms to it's young in the nest not far from where I saw the G.H.O.

Also nearby, a Common Redpoll.
Every August, Sockeye Salmon show up in the Eagle River Valley to spawn. It is always fascinating to watch, but you also have to watch out for bears who show up for dinner.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Loving Those Mountains

Years ago I met a woman living in the White Mountains of Arizona who grew up on the Great Plains. She remarked to me that she was intimidated by big mountains and especially terrified whenever she had to drive along steep, narrow mountain roads. 
I have shared her stress being on death defying roads like Papallacta Pass in Ecuador. The Salt River Canyon in Arizona is notoriously scary to many people. At least it has good roads with frequent pull outs.
Other than driving challenges, I have always loved mountains, and always lived in, or near them.
I also love painting them, like this small 8x10" Caribou set against a mountainous backdrop.
This is an upside down view of Polar Bear Peak above Eagle River. I may have posted this photo before, but I really liked how utterly still the water was when I shot this photo.
The land of the midnight sun. It was about midnight when I shot this photo of Iliamna, (an active volcano) while I was standing on the beach near Homer.
The big boss of North American Mountains is Mount Mckinley. Called Mount Denali by the politically correct. It can sometimes be seen from Anchorage. In this view it is barely visible on the right, in this photo from the hills above town. That's Mount Foraker on the left.

A close view from the Parks Highway, taken on a bitterly cold, Winter day.
Mt. Mckinley and Foraker from the other side. The big mountain looks completely different from different angles. Some mountains like the Grand Tetons or the Matterhorn hav a very distinctive, and majestic look. Mckinley looks like a big pile of cow poop from most angles. Nevertheless, it retains its majesty.

It certainly looks regal when viewed from Reflection Pond in Denali National Park. Many people travel to the park hoping to get a good view of the mountain. It is hidden in clouds of its own making most of the time. They leave disappointed in their quest, but they always see great wildlife.
This angle deserves another look without the pond.

Getting even closer. The base of the mountain is blocked by its foothills.
From this viewpoint you can see twin summits. I forget which of the two is actually highest.

Mckinley is 20,320 ft high. You can feel the cold emanating from it as you get closer. There are always hearty souls who feel the need to climb it. That is no easy feat, and many people die in the attempt. I certainly have never been that adventurous nor physically capable of such an attempt. But what a glorious pile of cow dung it is.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Mystery Bird and Other Stuff.

My nephew Jeremy sent me a few more photos from Petersburg, including a mystery bird. This is not it. In fact, it's the local scavenger that hangs around his neighborhood.
Jeremy says he took this photo out of his window.

Another bird photo taken from his window. Also not the mystery bird. It's the dark, Northwestern race of the Song Sparrow.
This is the bird in question. Clearly a merganser, although it's not at all clear, concerning both focus and species.
At first I confidently e-mailed Jeremy, telling him it was a male, Common Merganser. Now I'm not entirely sure. It has odd markings. It may be a wierd Red-breasted Merganser, or possibly a hybrid of the two species. Any thoughts on the subject?
Yesterday I had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal at my nephew Danny's house in Wasilla. That's him at the head of the table. His wife Angie, at the bottom of the photo is a wonderful cook.
After stuffing my face, I went for a short walk with two of my nieces through the neighborhood. Surprisingly, there is no snow in Wasilla right now.

The temperature never rose above the low teens farenhiet. That's Jessie in the photo above.
Jessie leads her little sister Olivia through the woods on their property.
Late afternoon alpenglow on the nearby, Talkeetna Mountains.