When I start a trip I always feel a bit unsettled, but once I’ve taken a photo or two that somewhat pleases me, I become relaxed and the creative juices start to flow. This “breaking the ice” can never come soon enough.
So on my current trip to film bald eagles on the Chilkat River near Haines, Alaska, the first thing I did upon landing in Juneau was to head to the nearby Mendenhall Glacier to stretch my weary airplane legs and “break the ice” by shooting some still images.
Being one of the most visited tourist attractions in Alaska, the Mendenhall Glacier is a frantic place during the summer cruise ship season. That’s not the case during the fall when you practically have the area to yourself. I headed to the visitor center overlooking Mendenhall Lake and the glacier beyond.
An enthusiastic U.S. Forest Service employee greeted me and asked if I would want her to start up the center’s new film about the nearby icefields and Tongass National Forest. I did and within a few minutes I was joined in the visitor center theater by miniature dinosaurs, dragons, bats, and other little “monsters” who were visiting for a special Halloween weekend of interpretive activities on bats. The costumed kids were just as mesmerized as I was with the sights in the film.
Seeing the film with its excellent photography just made more anxious to get my creative mojo going. Out the door I went and started on the very easy and short “Trail of Time”,
In the past I have never given this trail a thought because visitor center that is next to the trailhead and withall the cruise ship visitors flowing in andout it is a very congested area. . What a mistake, the trail’s interpretive wayside signs talk about the glacier retreat which is evident through the change of rocks, soil, and vegetation as you hike farther from the glacier. You can also see the remains of man’s imprint on the area; such as the rusting pipe that once delivered water to the now long gone Steep Creek Powerhouse.
I set off on the trail shooting primarily with my iPhone as most of my 110 pounds of still camera/video equipment was still packed in my air travel shipping cases. That was ok though, as it allowed me shoot fast and effortlessly with the goal of simply seeing creatively.
In past years, when I have arrived in southeast Alaska in late October/early November, it has been snowing with no sign of fall having ever occurred. But this year I was treated to a hint of what fall is like here with a few fall-colored leaves remaining on the trees and shrubs. I have been thinking about returning to southeast Alaska earlier next fall and this taste of fall has solidifying that idea.
After the hike it was back to my motel to get ready for my early morning checkin at Auke Bay ferry terminal. When I say early, I mean a very early 3:45 a.m. check-in for the Alaska Marine Highway System ship, the M/V Malaspina; my transportation for the 4.5 hour trip up the Lynn Canal to my final destination of Haines.
The short peaceful hike was all that I needed after my two days of traveling to Juneau. I’m now ready for what I hope will be successful weeks filming bald eagles on the Chilkat River.
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