Alaskan Skies & Weather

A number of readers of this blog have commented on the images I sometimes include with a posting and quite a number of folks have expressed real amazement at some of the collages I’ve blogged.  A recent reader shared some thoughts with me; from these grew the idea of creating this piece which is really a blog regarding Alaskan skies and weather scenes.  This was very difficult to create simply because I have so many beautiful images of The Last Frontier’s skies and unusual/extreme weather.  I believe my initial perusal left me with almost sixty images; from these I managed to winnow it down to ‘just’ thirty six and from there down to the following 18 images.  I will most likely do another such posting down the road and include the remainder of the final 36 images which just failed to make the cut.  So, for your enjoyment, I offer you eighteen images of ‘Alaskan Skies & Weather’…


This is Gunsite Mountain just north of the Glenn Highway.  If you look closely at the ‘dished’ area you will see a tiny square notch with the overcast gray sky visible beyond; hence the mountain’s name.

The Spur after the storm.JPG

A portion of ‘the Spur’ which runs from the ‘Y’ (intersection of the ‘Y’ and the Parks Highway also known as AK 3) to the village of Talkeetna after an overnight early spring snowfall

SR Basin-taiga XC.jpg

Savage River Basin in Denali NP&P on an early September afternoon.  The taiga and tussock tundra are in full fall color; this image has not been manipulated in any manner and I wasn’t using any special filters.  It is just this colorful!

Lil Cloud That Could.JPG

I spied this ‘Little Cloud That Could’ on the Parks Highway just outside Houston.  I don’t know if the rain was reaching the ground but I’d never seen just a single small cloud in an almost clear sky trying so hard to make rain!

AK 11 Orange Trees CU.JPG

Hill side fall color along the Elliot Highway (AK 2) between its junction with the Dalton Highway (AK 11) and Fairbanks.  Notice the small line of orange colored trees just a bit above and left of center; such color is rare up here due to a dearth of hardwood trees.

Thunderstorm Outflow at Fish Lake.JPG

Classic thunderstorm out-wash above the float plane docks on Fish Lake around Mile 9.5 on the Spur.  The thunderstorms were forming along the Talkeetna Mountains to the east.

Timbers Red Sunset2.jpg

A fiery red sunset over Kachemak Bay as seen from the front porch of a magical little cabin in Kachemak Bay SP&P named ‘Timbers’.


The same view as above but on a different day and time.


The incredible Aurora Borealis as seen from a neighbor’s place perhaps six miles north of my home.  The late fall/early winter of 2016/2017 featured amazingly clear skies and intense auroral activity.  Many nights I lay in bed and just watched ‘Nature’s Light Show’ for hours.


The eastern Alaska Range as seen from a pipeline access pull out on The Richardson Highway (AK 4) maybe thirty miles south of Delta Junction.  It was early September of 2000 when this image was captured looking SSW and a brief snow event had occurred across the night.

AK 11 Alyeska Pipeline Into Fog WA.JPG

Split layer fog is relatively common in Alaska and this is a classic shot of said weather phenomena.  Just left of center is the Alyeska pipeline with the road splitting off to the right.  This was taken somewhere along the Dalton Highway (AK 11).

Foraker Forming Lenticular Cloud in AM.JPG

Mighty Mount Foraker (17,400 feet in elevation) is tall enough to form its own weather as evidenced by the lenticular clouds forming above its peak.  This image was taken from the Spur around Mile 5.

AK 11 Alyeska Pullout Sunset 6.JPG

A ‘molten’ orange-red sunset taken from a pull-out along the Dalton Highway (AK 11) just a bit north of Coldfoot.

MtIliamna Sunset.jpg

A majestic early September sunset above Mount Illiamna which is a four peaked active ‘strato-volcano’ exceeding 10,000 feet in elevation.  The image was taken at Stariski SRS and is looking west across Cook Inlet.


The huge Alaskan sky as seen from a gravel pit pull-out along the Dalton Highway (AK 11).  My buddy was using his video camera to capture the same ‘big sky’ effect.

Blowing Snow on Spur.JPG

It’s Alaska so ya gotta have one image of snow falling, right..?  This was taken in January of 2017 as I was driving south down the Spur from the village to my home.

Clouds Then Mountains CU.JPG

Close up of an unknown glacier in the Kenai Mountains with a thick cloud layer almost cutting off the tops of the mountains; the image was taken from the foothills around Homer and looking across Kachemak Bay.

Denali in Morning Alpenglow adj.JPG

Mighty Denali (20,287 feet in elevation) cloaked in morning Alpenglow as seen from the famous overlook on the Spur.  From this point the village of Talkeetna is just another couple miles up the road.


Alaskan Adventure Images

If you’ve read any of the earlier posts in this blog you know about the awesome visit I just completed with my sister (Sally) and brother/brother in law (Gene) who hail from Monument, Colorado.  This was their first visit to Alaska and they did it right by spending a week sailing up the Inside Passage from Vancouver, debarking at Seward, catching a wildlife cruise in Resurrection Bay, visiting the town and Kenai Fjords National Park, taking a bus to Anchorage and then riding the Alaska Railroad to Talkeetna where I picked them up.  We spent 18 days together during which I was privileged to show them ‘my Alaska’ which consists of many locations most tourists don’t know exist let alone visit.  Some of the aforementioned include East End Road in Homer, the west side of the Kenai Peninsula, the Denali Highway and Teklanika campsite in Denali NP&P.

During their visit we all took hundreds of images and I want to share some which I really enjoyed.  With that said here’s the first ‘installment’:

A section of The Alaska Range as seen from a K2 Aviation Beaver during a flight-seeing trip which included a glacier landing

A section of The Alaska Range as seen from a K2 Aviation Beaver during a flight-seeing trip which included a glacier landing

A view of one of the command desks in the National Tsunami Warning Center located in Palmer

A view of one of the command desks in the National Tsunami Warning Center located in Palmer

Majestic Denali as seen from the shore of the Susitna River in downtown Talkeetna

Majestic Denali as seen from the shore of the Susitna River in downtown Talkeetna

The incredible Class 5+ white water in Devil's Canyon on the Susitna River; we toured this area on a wonderful tour with Mahay's Jet Boat Adventures

The incredible Class 5+ white water in Devil’s Canyon on the Susitna River; we toured this area on a wonderful tour with Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures

The incredible beauty of the Alaska Range in morning light with the tussock tundra in fall color from the Denali Highway (AK 8)

The incredible beauty of the Alaska Range in morning light with the tussock tundra in fall color from the Denali Highway (AK 8)

A young grizzly in Denali NP&P's Sable Pass as seen from a tour bus

A young grizzly in Denali NP&P’s Sable Pass as seen from a tour bus

A pair of Sea Otters in Kachemak Bay as seen from our wildlife cruise courtesy of 'Bay Excursions' in Homer

A pair of Sea Otters in Kachemak Bay as seen from our wildlife cruise courtesy of ‘Bay Excursions’ in Homer

The flukes of a small Humpback Whale that came within ten feet of our boat in Kachemak Bay during our wildlife cruise!

The flukes of a small Humpback Whale that came within ten feet of our boat in Kachemak Bay during our wildlife cruise!

Back With A Vengeance!

It has been a while since I last posted on this site as my sister and brother in law visited me and we spent 18 wonderful days together during which I was privileged to show them ‘my Alaska’. I say ‘my Alaska’ because across the years I’ve discovered many magnificent places to visit which very few tourists even know exist let alone visit. Examples are the Denali Highway (AK 8), Teklanika campsite in Denali NP&P, the west side of the Kenai Peninsula and the East End Road in Homer which is at the terminus of the Sterling Highway (AK 1). Both were mesmerized by these and other locations; the fact they’ve spent maybe 35 years living on the front range of the Colorado Rockies only highlights the majesty and awe-inspiring nature of ‘The Great Land’. I was sad to say ‘adios’ to them in Anchorage yesterday but also whetted their appetite for a return trip by explaining we still had the east side of the state to explore. Hopefully we will be able to do so in the near future.

So now I’m once again able to post my thoughts and I find this initial piece will be a bit different from most of the previous. The nucleus for my post began to coalesce with my reading of an excellent tome titled “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton. It is an amazing read focusing on how ‘We the People’ are being manipulated by a consortium of political, legal and media special interest groups with a focus on the outright lies perpetrated by the extremists in the environmental circles. Without a doubt Mr. Crichton has his own opinions and some of his ‘science’ is both a bit slanted and outdated – the latter not his fault as the book was published in 2004 – but overall I found the book eye-opening to say the least. He makes it abundantly clear that the current ‘global warming’ disaster claims are based on shoddy and incomplete science at best and often employ fear-mongering along with political and economic pressures to produce the desired outcomes. If one doubts this I can only point to the fact that many of the websites and on-line postings he highlighted as support for his beliefs have since disappeared from sight.

But I truly enjoyed his basic message which is; “Think for yourself, do your own research, question everything and do not just buy-in to what the lame-stream media or the current political party are spewing!” I’ve often railed about the average American being led around by their noses through the liberally biased lame-stream media agendas thinly veiled as ‘news’. Even these losers no longer try to claim they are ‘journalists’; indeed, we haven’t seen true journalism in these outlets since the early seventies. To me this should make it even more apparent to those of us who can remember the likes of Murrow and Cronkite – both of liberal beliefs, by the way, but unwilling to color their reporting with their own beliefs – that the current mass media outlets all have their own biases and use their programming to push said agendas. The purpose of ‘the Fifth Estate’ was to be a watchdog on the federal and state governments; given they now support liberal politics and smear anything else should not be lost on the American people.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday I read a story in ‘Discovery News’ which spoke to the falsehoods behind the environmental extremists who have been shouting that polar bears will be extinct due to starvation by 2068 when it is forecast that the Arctic sea ice will be absent 180 consecutive days each year. Apparently a just released report from American Museum of Natural History now states that polar bears are much more adaptable regarding food sources than the wacko environmental extremists wanted us to believe. There is now reason to believe these bruins will learn to eat other food sources which will substitute for the seal pups they will no longer be able to hunt and kill in the absence of Arctic ice. Of course this will pressure the species and that is not good but their impending extinction so touted by extreme environmentalists as a clear sign of our impending doom will most likely not materialize.

Do I doubt the climate is changing? Not in the least; the earth’s history shows the climate has been in continual flux since there was a ‘climate’. Do I doubt we are seeing warming temps? Living in Alaska this is abundantly clear and other world-wide data would seem to support this concept. Do I believe man is the main cause? By no means!! While I do believe mankind has contributed to the warming I remain unsure as to just how much. In addition I feel we know so little about the Earth’s climate over the past billion years we should not try to draw conclusions based upon a mere century or even a millennium of data. Only now are we beginning to learn of the effect of solar cycles on the Earth’s climate; the jury is still out on creeping shifts in the magnetic poles. I could go on and on but I believe I’ve made my point.

If we are to truly trust scientific research then we need to completely remove the influence of funding from special interest groups with their own agendas, allow research that is free from political pressure based upon pseudo-science and remove the emotionalism from all scientific efforts. Without this we will almost certainly continue to exist in a ‘state of fear’…

Family Visits ‘n Fun!

Of late you may have noticed a dearth of postings on my site; there is a reason for this and said dearth will continue into early September.  My sister and brother in law – Sal and Gene – are visiting Alaska for the first time.  They began their travels with a flight from Colorado Springs (CO) to Vancouver (BC) where they boarded a cruise which took them up the Inside Passage with stops at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay before reaching Seward where they disembarked and spent a day visiting the sites.  Then they took a bus to Anchorage, spent a day looking around and then boarded the Alaska Railroad and traveled up here. 

Since they arrived the weather cleared up and has been warm and dry; I told them they were welcome any time and that Alaska was smiling on them!  Since arriving they’ve done the ‘Grand Tour’ on a K2 Aviation Beaver which flew them among the peaks and valleys of The Alaska Range as well as landing on a glacier.  We visited the Palmer-Wasilla area via the Hatcher Pass road, toured the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer (neat place and well worth the time), picked up great fish and meat at Mat Valley Meats in Palmer and shopped Fred Meyer before heading back to Talkeetna via the Parks Highway.  I’ve driven them around the area and they spent Saturday morning wandering the village.  Sunday they participated in my music show on KTNA; they gave their impressions of ‘The Great Land’ in general and of Talkeetna in particular in between music.  Both were fascinated by live radio and really got a kick out of seeing their ‘little brother’ make it happen.  They have walked ‘the Kidz’ multiple times each day and Sal is still trying to get a picture of the musher who takes her team up and down East Barge Drive on her ATV.  I’ve seen a bevy of moose but sadly Sal and Gene haven’t been with me but they did see a pair of moose in Hatcher Pass.  I also caught a brief glimpse of a grizzly at Mile 2.8 of the Spur but once again they were not in the Escape.

We finished baking six apple pies Sunday afternoon and gave one to my neighbor (Cathy); the remainder will go to Holly (my dear friend and realtor), the KTNA staff, the ‘ladies of the Talkeetna PO’ and another neighbor leaving one for us.  I still want to introduce them to more folks around town and get in a Mahay’s Jet Boar ride up the Susitna River.  Wednesday we drive to Anchorage to pick up a RV; we’ll return here to load it up and then head north to the Denali Highway.  As pets are not allowed in the rental RV Mark will live here in our absence and handle ‘the Kidz’.  We’ll be in Denali NP&P from Friday through Sunday and then most likely drive into the Kenai and visit Homer and the immediate area.  Then we turn in the RV the next Wednesday and we’ll have another four days here before they depart.

All told it has been a wonderful visit to this point and it there’s no reason to assume it will not continue to be great.  I am hoping they will get to see wildlife on Saturday when we take the bus in the Park to Wonder Lake.  At least they’ve already had a chance to see The Alaska Range in general and Denali, Mt Hunter and Mt Foraker in particular from Talkeetna so even if we don’t see ‘the Mountain’ in the Park it will be okay.  I’m also hoping for more moose views around here and in the Kenai and I remain hopeful they will get to see some grizzlies in the Park as well.

It has been a fantastic visit to this point so here’s hoping for more of the same!  I will be back to blogging on a more regular schedule come early September.  Here’s wishing everyone a great remainder of summer and a colorful upcoming fall..!

Sis Sal fitting glacier boots for walking on the glacier

Sis Sal fitting glacier boots for walking on the glacier

Heading to the Beaver!

Heading to the Beaver!

Hatcher Pass mine and vista!

Hatcher Pass mine and vista!

A cow moose and two yearling calves on the Spur

A cow moose and two yearling calves on the Spur

Data screens at the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, AK

Data screens at the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, AK

Bullwinkle’s Revenge or ‘Watch Out Where Them Moosies Go”..?!?

Before I get started with this piece I want to assure anyone reading this that I do not believe moose are ‘Bullwinkle’!  Indeed, they are pretty much the opposite of the cartoon character in that they are smart, fast and extremely adept at traversing the thick boreal forest or open tundra.  I learned this hard way back in June of 2000 while solo backpacking in Kachemak Bay State Park across Kachemak Bay from the town of Homer.  I’d finished up a three day hiking/camping trip into the park and was heading back to the ranger station on Halibut Cove Lagoon via the China Poot Lake Trail to pick up my ride back to Homer with Bay Excursion’s water taxi service (highly recommended – Captain Karl Stoltzfus is the best!!).  I was part way back and entered an open area around a couple of acres in size that was relatively flat with tall grass.  Diagonal from me was a lone moose cow munching some willow bark.  As this was an easy to hike area compared to the wet and muddy trail I availed myself of the grass and figured I was far enough away from the moose to not be an issue.  Even so I watched her and I was puzzled by the fact the she stopped eating and was closely eying me; as I continued her ears went back against her head.  I was wondering what the heck her problem was and started angling away from her but still moving forward.  Then I realized what was happening when her spring calf stood up from the grass no more than ten feet in front of me.  Time kinda stood still as I looked at the calf, immediately thought “OH SHIT!!!” and looked back at Mom to see this brown blur the size of a freight train bearing down on me.  I jettisoned my backpack and ran to the tree line just beating her; we played ‘keep away’ with me hiding behind tree trunks for maybe a minute until she decided I wasn’t a threat, collected her calf and sauntered off.  It was this experience which caused me to re-think the wisdom of solo backpacking in remote areas (the park is accessible only via air or water) and completely altered my opinion of moose.

With this said I learned the hard way a few days back that with snow conditions like we’re experiencing now – compressed snow about a foot in depth with a strong, icy covering atop which just a bit of new snow has fallen – one absolutely must watch where one steps!  Even at my heavy bulk the icy snow cover is strong enough to allow me to walk atop it; however, moose do break through and leave a circular area that slants inward towards the actual hole where their hooves break through the icy surface.  Normally this is easy to see but after just an inch of snow atop this the indentations become very difficult to see and this makes for hazardous walking.  Not realizing this to be the case I wasn’t being careful as I was walking Anana and Qanuk a few days back and I paid for it.  As I was in the swampy area just to the west of ‘Exercise Hill’ I inadvertently stepped into a moose track which caused my foot to slide into the actual hole and twisted my ankle.  It was just enough to hurt and give me a slight limp.  I started trying to watch where I was placing my feet after that but managed to step into another such track with the same foot and once again twist the same ankle.  This time it really hurt to the point I sat down in the snow for a few minutes and cursed a blue streak while condemning my inability to recognize such dangers.  Once the initial pain resided I managed to gimp up the hill and back to my place but even today the ankle remains sore and I’m staying off it as much as possible.

I’d never have imagined one could founder in a moose’s tracks but once again Alaska has shown me I have much to learn!  Normally walking in moose tracks is no big deal; I’ve done it before to keep from having to break a fresh trail through 20 plus inches of snow but that was in more ‘typical’ snow conditions.  The icy nature of Talkeetna’s snow cover which is due entirely to the warm winter has changed how one must handle walking in the snow; until last Monday I didn’t realize this was the case.  I love learning more about ‘getting along’ in rural south central Alaska but I’d prefer my lessons be a bit less painful if possible.  Still and all I know I won’t forget this hard won piece of knowledge; one must evaluate the snow conditions when expecting to walk in it and be aware that based on these conditions what one chooses to do must be weighed against those conditions and the influence of other factors like wildlife, temperature, sunlight and similar.

Camping in Kachemak Bay State Park

Camping in Kachemak Bay State Park

In early June of 2000 I spent four days packing and camping in Kachemak Bay SP which is across Kachemak Bay from Homer and is accessible only by water or air. Black bears were frequently seen which required me to store my supplies in a BRFC (Bear Resistant Food Container) which I chose to hang from some trees (see orange cylinder in roughly center screen). I set up my tent to give some scale to the image; once I finished I moved it about 60 yards away as under these circumstances it would not be wise to camp so close to one’s food!