Powerline Pass

Powerline Pass

It was one of those irresistible days in southcentral Alaska.  Just hours after I had emailed a friend seeking clothing advice for her mother who was coming up on a cruise, where I told her to be prepared for chilly and that tank tops generally aren’t used in Alaska, Michelle and I were hiking along Powerline Pass in the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage and it was HOT.  Granted, it was probably not hot by Phoenix standards (I am still recovering from landing in Phoenix on May 10 on my way back from South Dakota where it was 100 degrees at sunset), but hot for a guy who has lived in Alaska for ten years now and has acclimated.

But the sun and the warmth drew us, along with hundreds of other Anchorage residents whose cars will spilling out along Toilsome Hill Road outside the Glenn Alps parking lot, to go hike in the mountains.  I took a camera and a few lenses and filters along in my Lowe Pro Orion AW bag, with Gitzo 6X tripod strapped to the bottom.  From the Glen Alps parking lot, you can fan out and access at least five trails of varying lengths and skill levels.  Some of those trails then lead to others, like the trail we took, known as Powerline Pass, which can lead to a traverse trail over into Indian Valley along the Turnagain Arm.

Powerline Pass is aptly named for the series of powerline poles paralleling the trail to the east.  It is a wide, maintained trail suitable for hiking as well as mountain biking.  I slopes down into the wide valley that flows to the south from the parking area, providing spectacular views on both sides of the Chugach Mountains.  It also provides access to some of the best autumn moose viewing in the world.  On this hot, sunny spring day we saw three moose, including two within 50 yards of the trail, one of whom was a young bull.  I was surpised to see as many, as moose are usually bedded down somewhere cool on hot days like this.

I had a particular photo in mind, so much of our hike was finding the right spot for us to hike down and capture it.  I wanted a shot of the South Fork of Campbell Creek providing a nice leading line or S-curve with a prominent peak, still with some snow on it, in the background.  While the still somewhat harsh sunlight was not ideal, the positioning of this valley made it impossible to get light all throughout the valley with either early or late light because the mountains would cast strong shadows at either time of day.  With a warming polarizer and a 2-stop Lee graduated neutral density filter, I was able to subdue the light and enrich the colors enough to compensate.

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