Alaska Photography

Alaska’s fall colors win the prize, hands down

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

I lived six years in Alaska. I loved fall more than any other season. In Anchorage, in southern Alaska, fall came fast and furious, anywhere from early to late August, usually through the first snowfall in mid or late September on the neighboring Chugach Mountains. We called that ominous first snow “Termination Dust.”

The colors astounded me. Blueberry bushes burned fiery red. Birch trees lit up into canopies of shimmering gold. The mountain valleys were colored with splashes of oranges and shades between all three colors.

I had many favorite destinations to hike and climb during the crisp weeks. My favorite short getaway was Eagle River, in Chugach State Park, about 30 miles east from downtown Anchorage. It’s one of the most magnificent valleys with a paved road in North America. I came here frequently, particularly during my first few autumns in the Great Land.

One can take dizzying hikes up the bear-filled valley to an overlook over the Eagle River that sucks one breath away in its dizzying beauty.

These shots all date from outings in September 2005. I still think about my time there this time of year. I do not think I will find a prettier place to spend a cool fall day in the wild, knowing the seasons are changing and the dark winter is about to descend. The colors are nature’s last gasp of brilliance before the cold dark of winter falls.


Tok, gateway to the ‘Great Land’

By far, my favorite sign in the world, I think, is this one that greets visitors as the drive in on the Al-Can Highway from the Yukon and arrive in the first junction and town in Alaska, called Tok. Go straight, you arrive at Fairbanks. Head left, you come to Glenallen, and then on to Valdez or Anchorage. Do not be fooled. Tok is also a graveyard of dreams, where many who dreamed of a better life, or escaping their problems or the law, or perhaps a Permanent Fund Dividend check without working for it, busted. Alaska is filled with dreamers and also broken dreams. It is what makes it Alaska, and I still love it so. (Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)