Hey! I’m back! A couple of people were wondering if I had fallen off the edge of the Earth. Well, I didn’t, obviously… but I did go there! For those of you who don’t know, I went back to the United States for a long overdue visit with my family. My grandmother turned 90 years young in August, and the Catlett family had a reunion party to celebrate.
The main purpose of my visit was to attend the party, but I also went early enough and stayed long enough to attend the Pitchfork and Lollapallooza music festivals in Chicago. I photographed my grandmother’s party, however my focus while I was there was to reconnect with family and friends, and I did very little photography in Chicago.
After my month in Chicago, I went to Alaska for 2 weeks to visit my “sister in crime”, Kelly. While 2 weeks of unstructured time is nowhere near enough time to do a proper shoot anywhere in Alaska, I did get some really nice shots when I was in the right place at the right time.
The weather, not surprisingly, was less than optimal for photography, however we did get a few sunny days while I was there.
While I was there we did a lot of hiking and camping, and the pics here are from some of the trip’s highlights. Early on in the trip we drove up near the Arctic Circle and then did some hiking and camping in the Chena River Recreation Area, specifically a 24 kilometer loop to see the Granite Tors, a series of huge granite boulders sitting atop otherwise barren, open mountain tops. On the way up there we encountered a young moose that apparently wanted to kill me. I tried to give it a wide berth and avoid it, but it basically stalked me, cutting me off and getting closer and closer until I just about crapped my pants in terror. The photo below was taken at only 120mm. For those of you who don’t understand what that means, it means that it was TOO damn close. This is the second time in my life I’ve had a frightening encounter with a moose in the wilderness, and the result is that I’m scared to death of them now, and would prefer to run into a bear any day. I’ve seen bear up close in the wilderness before, and in all of those situations the bear turned and ran away. Moose, however, seem to prefer to run at me instead of away from me.
Kelly lives in Healy, just 12 miles from the entrance to the front country of Denali National Park. As a result, I did two great hikes there, one by myself and one with Kelly. The first one was a climb up Sugar Loaf Mountain. The trail was only about 2 miles long, but it entailed a 1000 meter increase in elevation.
I was a bit hungover when I started the hike, and so I pretty much thought I was going to die on the way up. I considered turning around and going back more than a few times, but when I reached the peak and turned around I was rewarded with the only clear view of Denali (Mt. McKinley) I had for the entire trip. This made the entire effort worthwhile, and I’m including what I think is a pretty nice shot that I got.
The second hike was a walk to the top of Mt. Healy. A far longer trail, but not nearly as strenuous, and luckily the weather was crystal clear that day, also.
Unfortunately, the very best trip we took, a hike up into the backcountry wilderness of Denali National Park, was done on a cold, misty, rainy day which didn’t afford me any good opportunities for photography.
Blueberries were in season, though, and we ate so many wild blueberries I thought I might puke. Anyhow, the trip was more about spending time with Kelly and unwinding in the clean, northern air, and so I’m happy I got the shots that I did.
After a long hiatus, though, I’m back in Saigon, and getting prepared to start doing some more serious shooting. Right before I left, and then again last weekend I did some wandering around in my neighborhood, and I’ve decided that for my next series I’m going to work right here around my home. So, I’ll be getting back to what I know best and give you all, my friends and family, a chance to see what it’s like where I live. More soon folks! Welcome back, to Me!