Alaska 2015 in one pissed-off post

Last year, I went to Alaska but never posted about it because upon arrival I discovered that my DSLR had died and so did my soul. I had to spend the rest of the trip snapping photos on my cell phone.

Did I mention that I’ve wanted to go to Alaska all my life? That it was a dream come true?

When I had finished reciting every swear word known to man, I told myself there had to be a lesson in this somewhere, like “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” or “Wherever you go, there you are” or perhaps “How about you enjoy the scenery with your eyes for once, Karen?”

No dice, Chicago.

At the beginning of our trip, we backpacked in Denali. I started the trip as a big excited dork . . .


The backcountry of Denali is unusual in that it has no trails except what’s been made by animals. That means you really need to bring a boyfriend with twenty years of outdoor experience brush up on your map and compass skills. To make things even more difficult, sometimes the ground isn’t ground at all but a spongy carpet of moss that eats your entire foot when you step on it. Here’s a picture of said carpet.


Thankfully, moose are Davy-Crockett-like in their pioneering skills, and we were able to use their game trails to get through most of the rougher patches.

The other thing I was unprepared for: weather. Flagstaff has spoiled me rotten with its endless days of sunshine. I had forgotten that other places are different. Clouds? That cover the whole sky? And that release rain for days? Wha? When we started, the weather was perfect, the sky dotted with lovely puffballs.


which made gorgeous reflections in the few shallow streams that zigzagged through the (initially) dry river bed we hiked into.


Everything was lush and green. There were even lovely purple-pink flowers around which I believe are called fireweed.



Pretty, right?

My archive of our backpack through Denali ends here, for then it proceeded to rain for two days straight and on the second night we camped on a raised ridge only to discover in the morning that our ridge had become an island and that our island was sinking fast beneath water and so we freaked out and started running decided that it was expedient for us to get out of the river bed before it filled, but doing so involved a great deal of fighting cooperating effectively so that we could cross many many fast-moving streams up to our knees without dying injury but finally we were able to flag down a park bus full of horrified tourists from India who had all the windows open while we huddled in the back of the bus and tried not to die of hypothermia.

Did I mention that the only animals we saw in the backcountry were seagulls? Really mean dive-bombing seagulls.

But then ohmygodohmygodohmygod we went and saw the sled dogs, and it was awesome. Not only was there a new batch of puppies



but the dogs were all just hanging out AND YOU COULD PET THEM AND STUFF so my heart was once again full. For your viewing pleasure, I submit to you this gallery of canine rangers:

It was so awesome we went back again the next day.

After an amazing reunion with a high school friend I hadn’t seen in some twenty years, we then headed down to the Kenai Peninsula, where we stopped at a wildlife preserve so we could see all the animals that we didn’t see in the park and so I could take low-quality pictures of them with my crappy ass cell phone.

At one point I was admiring a rescued bald eagle in a cage when a wild one landed on the tree next to it:

It was very ‘Merica. The seagulls in this park were much nicer and far more photogenic:


In Seward, we took a cruise. Although it was pretty cloudy, it, too, was awesome especially because I didn’t end up puking all over the upper deck when I got seasick. The water was blue, the coastline dramatic. Feast your eyes upon it:


It’s downright frightening in black and white.


We also saw a bunch of cool sea animals, like seals, dolphins, humpback whales, and orcas but my cell phone only managed to snag a decent picture of an orca


and what I think is another orca and her calf, though it could very well be a dolphin.


We also did a cool hike to Lost Lake. I have to say, though, I didn’t much appreciate the signage at the trailhead:


Along the way, there were a bunch of pretty flowers, like chocolate lilies,


which looked prettier with raindrops on ’em:



And when we were just about to turn around, convinced that Lost Lake was indeed lost, it suddenly came into view, and it was awesome.


Oh, one more thing about Alaska . . . it’s got HUGE FREAKING GLACIERS.


which aren’t as impressive in a photograph unless you are given some sense of scale:


and which also look scary in black and white.



*Not included in this blog: all of the other cool things I took pictures of with a disposable camera that sucked.




4 thoughts on “Alaska 2015 in one pissed-off post

  1. Thanks for this. For a cell phone you did remarkably well. Your flower photos are very nice indeed. I can hear your laughter in this.

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