Wild winter wonderland

Wild winter wonderland

I went on another aerial photo excursion yesterday, this time to Kenai Fjords National Park.  Originally, the goal had been to capture the signature fjord features of the park, but a weather front rolling in from the Gulf of Alaska covered the waters.  Instead, we spent most of our time circling around the Harding Ice Field.

Kenai Fjords National Park was created in 1980 under the Alaska National Interest Lands and Conservation Act (“ANILCA”).  If you saw Ken Burns’ “National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” you saw the clips with interviews where the local townsfolk in Seward, Alaska were up in arms – burning President Carter in effigy and posting signs on businesses prohibiting park rangers from entering – with the creation of the park.  Like many people, they felt instantly threatened by the “locking up” of the lands, preventing development.  Later, they came to realize that having the park at their doorsteps created more longterm, sustainable economic benefit through tourism.  I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in Seward now who does not want the dollars that comes with people visiting the park.

The Harding Ice Field is 700 square miles of one-mile-thick ice.   The ice and snow is so thick, the snow even buries whole mountain ridges, creating what is called a “nunatak.”  I had no idea how magical of a place it could be.  Usually, the joy of photographing glaciers from the air is being able to capture the blue razor-back ridges of endless crevasses, spreading out along the back of the glacier like armor.  But the smooth, silky, undisturbed (except for one spot where we saw that someone had landed a ski plane) snow, blowing around and creating luscious, creamy drifts around ridges and peaks, was simply delightful.  And even though we left before alpenglow set in – a weather front had covered half of the ice field while we were there – the light and shadows provided plenty of visual wonders.


One Response to “Wild winter wonderland”

  1. Teresa Says:

    I just wanted to say, I loved looking at these photos of Kenai Fjords. We visited there a few years ago and you are so right about how magical of an area it is and Seward is a wonderful little town to visit. We took the ride on the boat to view the glaciers and it was beautiful. A memory I am sure never to forget. I can’t wait to go again soon.
    Your photos are awesome. Thanks for sharing them.

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