Cooling down with views of Alaska

/, Denali National Park, Polychrome Pass, Tracy Arm/Cooling down with views of Alaska

Last sunset for a period of two weeksLast sunset for a period of two weeks

This week the temperatures here in Utah are going to be in the mid to upper 90’s so I was looking for something to visually cool down with and I thought of Alaska. During the summer of 2005 I made a trip to Alaska and the Yukon where part of the journey was a cruise and the rest was by land. The cruise started in Vancouver, British Columbia on a clear, cloudless day and as the ship headed towards Alaska the clouds slowly built up and by the time the sun was setting those clouds lent themselves to a dramatic sunset. That sunset was the last I would see for almost two weeks because the days are so long in Alaska during the summer.

Cruising Tracy ArmCruising Tracy Arm

I was delighted to sail up Tracy Arm and see the gorgeous blue silt laden waters, tree covered mountains and low hanging clouds. Later in the day I cursed the clouds because they were thick, low and blocked a lot of the light I had hoped for to photograph my journey. Those clouds also made it feel cooler than it actually was but in a polar fleece jacket I felt warm enough. It was July and I could still see snow up high.

Views of Tracy ArmViews of Tracy Arm

Looking at this image I can almost feel the cool, fresh air on my skin. I saw several seals on the ice, this image shows one on top of the white speck in the water, I wish I had been closer to get a clear shot of the seal but I know it was there! The clouds hung over the mountains and I could barely make out some of the hanging glaciers.  It would be lovely to get back there on a sunnier day.

A waterfall and water colored by glacial siltA waterfall and water colored by glacial silt

There were waterfalls everywhere and there were trees and shrubs sprouting out of what appeared to be solid rock.  The water really was this vividly colored from the glacial milk (silt) that flows into it from the waterfalls and glaciers.

Denali National Park - Polychrome PassDenali National Park – Polychrome Pass

I also visited Denali National Park and traveled by bus as far as the Toklat River and on the way there I was able to photograph this view from Polychrome Pass while a storm was clearing over the distant mountains. The rock (larger than it appears to be in this image) is a glacial erratic meaning it was carried there by a glacier and it may have originally been from an areas many, many miles away.

After leaving Anchorage by plane I was flying over Oklahoma and there was turbulent weather below and we were advised to keep our seatbelts on. I looked out the window to the storm underneath the plane and thought “That is the darkest, meanest looking storm I think I have ever seen”.

Then I realized that it was night time of course it would be dark! I had forgotten what that looked like during my time in Alaska.

Yes, I felt silly. But I can laugh at myself.

For those of you in hot climates I hope these images helped you feel a little cooler if only for a moment or two. It worked for me.



  1. Patty Chadwick July 28, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Our daughter-in-law arranged a cruise to Alaska for us in in June 2004, before my hip surgery…I loved it–spent every minute we could off of the ship, rafting, horse back riding, etc. although the pain was intense, I did everything I could cram into each 24hour period, knowing I’d never have another chance and the pain would eventually be just another memory…it was so worth it!,

  2. Mary McAvoy July 23, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Fantastic! A real treat to see these and to have your explanation of each. Thanks, Mia.

  3. Wickersham's Conscience July 23, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Feel free to come and visit Alaska again! We can show you the nicer bits that the industrial tourism don’t get to.


  4. Jane Chesebrough July 21, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    That is funny picturing you in the plane thinking about the meanest looking storm you ever saw. The photos are wonderful, full of the beauty of the land,sea, and sky.Thanks for sharing!

  5. Bryce Robinson July 21, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Absolutely stunning photos Mia. I’ve done a leg of that journey through the coastal parts of AK. Your images honor the spirit of the land!

    I’ll add a thought to help cool you out of the dry Utah 90’s (I’m sympathetic); It was 35 degrees F while banding birds here on the Seward Peninsula yesterday morning.

    Never slow down your image sharing. I look forward to it every time I jump on-line.

  6. Elephant's Child July 21, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    How very, very beautiful. It is winter here (such as it is) and I still loved (and marvelled at) these images. Thank you.

  7. Utahbooklover July 21, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Beautiful images, I agree. My trip there was way back in August 1977 and I stayed until the following spring with my sister’s family in Kenai AK. Yes the weather was a lot cooler in summer, making long-sleeved shirts feel good. I often felt like I was in Hawaii because of the lush growth due to the extra daylight. But that all changed when winter came — much shorter hours of daylight and much colder temps!

  8. Glen Fox July 21, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Thank you for these wonderful images. I just returned from a similar trip. It was definitely cool, but incredibly beautiful. Your images, as always, are terrific. Your image of Polychrome Pass is a real treasure. Your landscapes are as good as your bird images are very gifted and I’m so glad you freely share your art and wisdom. See you in Utah some day!


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