Sunday, October 19, 2008

Alaska Sunday XXVIII

Four-wheel Drive Day

Hope, Alaska
July 17

While we were using Anchorage as a base camp, we decided one day to drive around to Hope, AK for a day of birding and photography. Hope is situated on the southern side of Turnagain Arm off of the Cook Inlet. It is about a 2-3 hour drive to Hope from Anchorage. It is a beautiful drive through the Chugach National Forest on the West side of the Chugach Mountains. Lots of wildlife, from Squirrels to Moose to Thin-horn Sheep.

We had read of a great 4-wheel drive road South out of Hope up Palmer Creek Road and Resurrection Creek Road. We spent a couple of hours on the Palmer Creek road and then returned to Hope for lunch at a little Mom and Pop Diner. Great food.

We then returned to the Resurrection Creek Road and started up the valley. Up near the treeline we hoped to find some Golden-crowned Sparrows. We found beautiful meadows lush with wildflowers, grasses, and amazing vegetation. Eventually we encountered a sign "4-Wheel Drive Only." Of course, we proceeded on around the sign. The next sign said something like "Turn Around Here, Road Impassable". Of course we drove around it and proceeded. Much of the road was overgrown with small brush, and we did get some scratches in the Clear coat and Paint (about 8 hours work with the buffer, scratch remover, and polish when we got back to Texas). We saw some beautiful scenery and best of all, we found the summer breeding ground of the Golden-crowned Sparrow. In all of our years, we had only seen one other Golden-crowned Sparrow migrating through West Texas.

Following are a few photos along the way.

Be sure to click on the photos for a full page view.

Lower altitude Meadow

Higher altitude

Cold (really cold) Mountain Stream
It felt colder than the Arctic Ocean that we waded in

Mountain Valley
Still lots of snow up here

Getting near Resurrection Pass

Most of the photos have been adjusted with Photomatrix Pro 3.1 beta 9. The dynamic range of the photos at the high altitudes is beyond the ability of the camera to capture and show detail in the blacks and shadows without completely washing out the sky and bright areas. This is especially true when shooting into the sun.

Important to us!
Please leave a comment and let us know which is your favorite.

Photos by Troy and Martha. I don't remember who made which Photo.
We were both shooting the D70 and D200 interchangeably.

Troy and Martha



Sioux said...

Troy and Martha, I loved your photo essay of Hope AK! As we were on a cruise ship we didn't get there, but we did drive from Seward to Anchorage, and that was the most beautiful part of the trip. We RV but have not gone out of the USA.

You two are welcome any time you're in the Mineral Wells area...give us a call...940-682-6640!

Kathiesbirds said...

Troy and Martha, I can't pick a favorite because I love them all. You should publish a book or a calendar! I love the range of colors in the sky and the mountains. Those expansive views make my heart expand as well. I can feel it from the photos, I can't imagine how it would feel to be there in person!

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

It's very hard to choose a favorite from among such wonderful views/photos. However, since you asked us to choose, my favorite is 'Mountain Valley.' Makes my heart sing.

RuneE said...

You shown the change in nature with the rising altitude extremely well. A pleasure to watch. I have not tried that software I use PS CS3 with the RAW plug-in. Maybe I should change? Expensive?

storyteller said...

I do love them all … but since you asked … the first and last are my favorites today.
Hugs and blessings,

kjpweb said...

Very good imagery. The tonemapping works well. The only disadvantage is that they look a bit unnatural, since we're not used to an evened out color range. But it sure is worth it!
Cheers, Klaus

fishing guy said...

Troy: I must say I loved the High Altitude photo. There is something about the mountain on the right that is so appealing.

michelle said...

I love all of the photos! I went to Anchorage and to Kodiak Island about 14 years ago. I would love to visit again some day. Your photos bring all the memories back to me!

Cicero Sings said...

We have a Hope in B.C. too ... where we stop for a pretty good home made type meal when going south to visit me Mither! When coming home we always breath a sigh of relief when we get "beyond Hope" ... finally, the traffic thins out and life begins to relax just a little!

I like the last photo best.

willow said...

Decisions, decisions! Well, if I HAD to choose only one, it would have to be the last. But they are all incredible.

Lew said...

All great shots and interesting info about the area! I like the skies in the last two with a slight preference for the last photo.

Shellmo said...

Mountain Valley was my favorite - I love the lush green colors that appeared to be highlighted by sunlight.

Michael Palmer said...

Great shots all around, I am going to go with Mountain Valley as my FAV

Bradley Myers said...

I like the next to last one the best, but they are all good. I do enjoy ready your trip reports. Alaska is a beautiful place.

Louis la Vache said...

"Getting near Resurrection Pass" gets "Louis's" vote.

Agring said...

I love them all but I love the high altitude the most. Great to see your side of world.

Genie said...

Technically I like the Mountain Valley photo best for its colors, its depth, and that amazing sky with the clouds adding an almost "marbled" effect that wouldn't exist if it weren't for the aqua blue colors in the valley. The marbling is my perception more than what's actually in the photo though. It took me a minute to figure out why I saw marbling in the photo and then I realized that the pic reminds me of those beautiful shots of Earth which are so often described as showing the "blue marble" that is our planet.

On a more visceral level, I like the meadow photo because it just makes me happy, all those delicate flowers.

bryan said...

Wow, the sky is amazing!

Susan said...

Goodness you know how to find the sweet spots. In August we drove up this same road and parked just below th mines and barbequed steak on a stick and sat by the creek. The view of the Arm from up there was something. We could even see light defracting off downtown high rises from Anchorage. I have some similar shots, but yours are better.