Words and photographs by Haley Johnston
2015 was my sixth year of guiding for Alaska Alpine Adventures. After almost 50 trips and well over 400 days in the field, there were very few trips on AAA's menu of adventures that I had not yet guided. Our combination Noatak River & Great Kobuk Dunes trip was one of these few and I lobbied pretty hard to get the opportunity to guide it.
We are having a wonderful winter up here in Alaska. But the snow piling up and the cold temperatures have us dreaming of warmer and sunnier times, like the scorching, arctic afternoon featured in our Photo of the Month!
What do you mean "basecamp"? - We get that question a lot. And it is a totally fair question. Many guide companies use that phrase to mean a lot of different things.
But when we say basecamp, we mean real wilderness camping in a spectacularly scenic setting. We set up one camp for the entirety of the trip with solid sleeping tents to keep us warm and dry no matter what the weather throws at us. We bring along a spacious cook tent to facilitate comfortable meals and group camaraderie. Then we strike out in whatever direction we like to explore the surrounding country. We carry light packs, which means we can cover many miles in relative comfort and really immerse ourselves in the overwhelming immensity of our surroundings!
Come along on a basecamp adventure with us! Learn more: Denali Unexplored: Basecamp Hiking in Denali National Park.
There has been a lot of writing about the legendary Dick Proenneke of Twin Lakes, Alaska in Lake Clark National Park. It is hard to imagine a piece shedding more light on this often talked and written about character. But, this latest article offers an intimate glimpse into Dick's predominant pastime, exploring the expansive mountains surrounding his home at Twin Lakes.
In the spring of 2009 I was staring at my life’s many transitions. I was beginning my 7th season as a wilderness guide for Alaska Alpine Adventures - that was one of my few constants. My wife and I had a new baby on the way, our first, due in October. We were remodeling our house. I was scheduled for major hip surgery in September to correct, of all things, hip displasia. On top of that, I was going to some place in southwest Alaska called Aniakchak - a place unlike any I’d been to before, and one that was no stranger to change, geologically speaking. There was a lot to think about, and a lot to prepare for.
Over the years, you've grown accustomed to my images of people playing in big Alaska landscapes. And based on the overwhelming positive feedback I get with each release, the photo of the month offers a momentary escape from the hectic reality of our busy lives and transports us, if only momentarily, to a place that is sublime. This monthly delivery offers a glimpse of Alaska majesty, even to those who haven't yet experienced the magic of the Alaska wilderness.
An area of ever changing landscapes, Kenai Fjords National Park is as diverse as the wildlife that calls it home. From its miles of coastline to surreal glacially carved valleys, this National Park gem is not to be missed. Best explored by boat or kayak, the rich waters of Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park are home to humpback and orca whales, playful Dall's porpoises, and countless avian residents. While brown bears explore the tidal flats and rivers, mountain goats perch on the sheer cliffs of the towering mountains above. With virtually unlimited space for exploration, Kenai Fjords beckons the adventurer in all of us. Whether you want to go hiking at the Harding Ice Field, the Exit Glacier, or go kayaking in Kenai Fjords, Alaska Alpine Adventures Source to Sea Multisport trip will take you there.
Gates of the Arctic National Park, despite being the recipient of frequent media attention over the past 45 years, remains one of the most remote and unspoiled places on earth. Its 8.4 million acres cover an area twice the size of Connecticut and only slightly smaller than Switzerland. The park is essentially a road-less wilderness area and, except for limited and difficult access along the Dalton highway, Most recreational visitors choose to enter the park via chartered airplane. The park is home to the Arrigetch Mountains, which means, “fingers of the hand extended”, and is a mountainous area comprised of a tilted intrusion of granite that has been hailed as the hallmark of Gates of the Arctic. Perhaps Bob Marshall described the area best when he called Arrigetch “…a series of sensational needlelike peaks extending in a horseshoe around a gushing creek which rose in the glacier.” Traversing the landscape below these giants alters our sense of scale as well as our definition of true wilderness. Rafting, hiking, backpacking in Gates of the Arctic are the activities that Alaska Alpine Adventures specializes in and we have been operating in Gates of the Arctic National Park since 2005.`
At over 3.5 Million acres, Katmai National Park is home to the largest brown bear population in the world, holds the spawning grounds of literally millions of sockeye salmon, and contains within its wild borders the unaltered evidence of one of the world's most powerful volcanic eruptions ever recorded. Although created in 1918 to preserve the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, a landscape completely changed by the 1912 Novarupta eruption, Katmai National park is most known for it’s majestic Brown Bears, most notably those at Brooks Falls. Whether backpacking the austere landscape of the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, bear viewing at a remote camp along a salmon choked river, or padding along the park’s 400 miles of coastline, Katmai National Park remains one of the most spectacular parks in Alaska and is one of our favorite places to explore! Alaska Alpine Adventures has been exploring Katmai National Park since 1999 and we have since completed numerous expeditions across the breadth of the park. From kayaking expeditions along the rugged Katmai Coast to backpacking adventures in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Alaska Alpine Adventures guides are your Katmai backpacking, hiking, kayaking, and climbing experts.