True North to Alaska… the journey begins! We are on our way, beginning a one month road trip to Northern BC, Yukon and Alaska. We have no itinerary other than a 5 day excursion via Kodiak Island into Katmai National Park to photograph the world’s largest land predator, the Grizzly Bears of Katmai. The first half of our trip will likely be centered around the coastal areas of southeast Alaska, while the latter half will take us up the Dempster Highway in Yukon as fall begins its wonderful colours in Tombstone Provincial Park which has been described as the Patagonia of the north.
It is with excitement, anticipation and trepidation that I begin this journey. Excitement arising from embarking on my first real road trip without horses! Excitement that I will spend my 50th birthday not at a horse show, but somewhere in the wilds of Alaska, a dream spawned about 10 years ago, while sitting with clients at my 40th birthday dinner at the Evergreen Horse Show in Washington. Anticipation of experiencing the wild beauty of yet to be seen landscapes and wildlife and the potential photographic opportunities that await. Trepidation at leaving my horses and dogs in the care of a capable but just turned 17 year old student, Andrea, knowing all the possibilities for Harley to get into trouble, and with the onset of strangles (equine distemper) just beginning its tour through the ranch. Trepidation also in the concerns of being confined with my partner in a tiny camper for an entire month. While we share much in common in terms of our love of nature and photography, we are complete opposites in many other ways. Our circadian rhythms for example: I am usually up at the crack of dawn and Tim is usually up at the crack of noon. My most energetic moments happen in the morning while Tim kicks into gear around midnight. It is now 8am and I have been up since 5:30 taking photos, eating breakfast and now making this journal entry while waiting for the ‘beast’ to rise from our roof-top tent. On the other hand, by the time 9pm rolls around I am ‘toast’ and looking for the sleeping bag, just as Tim is becoming inspired and energized. Another way in which we are opposite is in the field of ‘planning’. I am a list maker, planner extraordinaire while Tim prefers to ‘wing’ it’. I have my gear 99% organized prior to the trip and have spent countless hours reading about the locations to which we are heading. Tim likes to shop along the way (5 hours in Jasper buying bits and pieces argh) and learns about a location once he has arrived by talking to the locals! We are careful to be both tolerant and appreciative of one another’s differences!
Thus far the trip has been rather mundane photographically as the weather is typically overcast. However, yesterday an interesting stop near Smithers at Moricetown Falls gave us the opportunity to watch the local fisherman tag and catch coho and springs. The men from the local Carrier tribe stand in precarious places along the rocky sides of the waterfalls or on the weir with nothing more than a single rope around their waist while scooping the salmon from the roiling water with nets attached to five meter long poles.
We are now camped at Dease Lake, the last place to fuel up for the next leg of the trip – the Alaska Highway. Ahh, I hear the beast stirring… more later.