Saturday, May 31, 2008

Alaska Sunday VIII

Photos from Coldfoot to Deadhorse

Today’s Trip consists primarily of Photos along the Dalton Highway from Coldfoot to Deadhorse.

(Be sure to click on the photos for the full dramatic look)

At mile 179 from Deadhorse is the last Spruce tree on the Alaskan Pipeline Road.
Last Spruce Heading North

One of the most striking features as you cross Atigun Pass is the large cirque to the east. It is difficult to photograph due to the extremely dark rock, bright snow and shooting into the sun. We have left the trees far behind and at this altitude and latitude, the vegetation is scarce. We parked here for a while and enjoyed the view. Traffic is almost non-existent, and the only sound is the sound of the wind through the pass. It is a lonely feeling.

Cirque at Atigun Pass

After we crossed over Atigun Pass and dropped down onto the North shelf of the Brooks range, we stopped and talked to some oil field workers who were having a lunch break. They told us to watch for Dall sheep high on the mountains a couple of miles further on. He said they had only recently moved to the North side of the mountains as the days got warmer. They typically spend the winter on the South side. I used my a 300 mm lens to photograph them. With our good Swarovski Scope we got a pretty good look at them.

Dall Sheep

We noticed that the mountain erosion here did not look like the erosion in most of the mountains the lower 48 states. There is more rubble at the lower end of the canyons and they are not washed clean, leaving larger rocks and boulders, like you would see in the Rockies for instance. At this level as we dropped down off of the shelf, we began to see some shrubby plants, as well as the lichens, mosses, and tough grasses. It makes for some interesting colors on the mountains. In the lower 48 states we are used to seeing the dark greens of the cedars at the tops of the tree lines.

Mountains Slowly Wearing Down
Rain was immanent

Most days had some clouds at different times of the day (and night which was day!). the clouds never seemed to vary in altitude, except when we encountered some heavy rain on the day that we left the North Slope Tundra and headed back. Usually they were uniformly low as in the following photo. They were very striking, usually just brushing the mountain tops.

Low Clouds in the Mountains

Dropping further down towards the plains and eventually the tundra, we came in sight of the White Mountains. This is a beautiful range of mountains and requires a lot of stopping for photography. We have long since left the Boreal Forests of Northern Canada and Alaska. This is the last range of “mountains” with the exception of some lone bluffs. Here, these mountains and valleys are covered in browns, tans, yellows and soft greens.

White Mountains

Martha made one last photograph of the terrain before dropping down into the valley between the hills. It features marshland and Pump station #2. This is called Last Chance station and has a pullout for viewing the Coastal Plain. Migratory birds from around the world come here to nest. Porcupine and Central Arctic Caribou herds migrate through here, to and from the calving grounds.

Pump Station #2

Bird watchers come here to view King eiders, Spectacled eiders, Canada geese, Tundra swans, Jaegers, Snowy owls and other tundra species. Just a little ways down the road we saw our first Long-tailed Jaeger. Whoo-hoo.

Long-tailed Jaeger

To the east of the road is the Franklin Bluffs, a low range of bluffs from a worn-down range of hills. It was a welcome sight since it is only 50 miles from Deadhorse.

Franklin Bluffs

Check the May side bar for previous episodes of the Dalton Highway (Haul Road) Adventure.

Next week is Deadhorse, Prudhoe Bay, Arctic Ocean, and environs. The following week is the start of the trip back down the road through landslides and flash floods. Great fun.

We hope you have enjoyed this week’s episode of mostly Photography.

Photography by Troy and Martha

Alaska Sunday is a collection of photographic remembrances of our driving trip from Texas to Alaska.
18,000 miles, 16 weeks, 16 western states including Alaska and four Canadian Provinces.
No chronological order, just anything of interest that got in front of our cameras.



Anonymous said...

incredible pictures! A breathtaking landscape I must say!

Dick said...

Beautiful place, I like the lonely feeling, but not all the time of course. Excellent pictures.

The Texican said...

Nice trip. What kind of vehicle were you traveling in? Glad you went before the gasoline prices spiked.

Rambling Round said...

Ahh! On a clear day, you can see forever!

fishing guy said...

Troy: I really enjoyed this trip today, thanks for sharing your travels.

Livio said...

I think you have captured magical photographies, I like particularly " Cirque at Atigun Pass" and " White Mountains"

Cicero Sings said...

You've some absolutely gorgeous scenery shots. I thought I had added you to my bloglines but it somehow didn't work ... so I've been missing out on your recent posts ... but I've caught up now!

Cicero Sings said...

P.S. Thanks for the bug I.D.!

For The People said...

Oh so nice.

Sandpiper said...

All of that open land is wonderful! I would go nuts with my camera!

Catherine said...

Fabulous! Atigun pass is astonishing. Nature creates sometimes dreamlike landscapes. Thanks to bring us back pictures I haven't seen those mountains before!

Dina said...

What a country!! So glad someone, namely you, was there to photograph the raw beauty.

Stacey Huston said...

Wonderful trip.. so breath takingly beautiful

Shellmo said...

I especially noticed the beautiful clouds in each of your photos.

FogBay said...

When I die I want to be reincarnated as your hood ornament because you go to the most interesting places and see the most interesting things.

Congratulations on a consistently great travel blog. I can't wait to see what's coming down the road.

raf said...

Great work altogether on your blog, Troy and Martha. Have thoroughly enjoyed your beautiful photography and informative posts. Especially like the great shot of the long-tailed jaeger in today's post. In my years of fishing the Bering Sea, the jaeger family was always the most remarkable to watch in their relentless pursuit of other birds.

FANCY said...

I only have one word for this magnificent pictures ...WOW...
My bridge is up want you to know ;-)

Anonymous said...

These are all incredible photos showing us the natural beauty of a place that should be preserved.

Duncan said...

Wonderful scenery, Troy and Martha, thanks for showing us.

BT3 said...

OK I am officially super envious of your trip. What ossum photos! Thanks for sharing.


Max-e said...

I have been looking through your recent posts. You have certainly been to some interesting places

Kathiesbirds said...

The photo of Antigun Pass looks like the couds are sliding down the slopes into the cirque!

I love the photos of the "Mountains Wearing Down" and the "White Mountains." What beautiful colors and clouds!

The dall sheep look like bits of fluff that blew off the snow fields.

And what a sight that yeager is!