It is now the beginning of September and the polar bears are present in large numbers around the island. The largest numbers can be found on the gravel bank close to the island. The assessment of endangered species does not seem in place here. We have never seen so many bears so close together before. In some places on the gravel bank one can see up to 8 bears together. Mothers with cubs, males and juveniles mingling with each other. Seemingly, things are very peaceful. We do not see any fighting; an occasional snarl between them seems to be enough to maintain a proper hierarchy. They have all left the large polar ice field and have made the crossing to the small Barter Island, which lies close to the mainland of Alaska.
Oh Island close to Ice
Eternal wilderness Paradise
Just to feel how the edge of the world
Touches the frozen history pearls
Kaktovik brings you to your senses.
If you, being on the edge of the stressed western civilization, are dropped in a village on Barter Island, an island off Alaska, which lies in the vast Arctic Ocean, start contemplating immediately.
If there was ever a road through paradise then it could have been the Denali Highway. There are no roads in paradise. People were then still a part of nature. Where there is a road nature disappears.
As a visitor of Alaska, a visit to the National Park “Denali” is a must. With a surface area of 6 million acres (93×87 miles) this park is a nature paradise which surrounds the highest mountain of North America: the Mount McKinley. This 6200 m high giant dominates the Alaska Range.
Flanked by the Mount Forakker (5300 m) and the Mount Hunter (4400 m) this section is the solid foundation for the many large glaciers that stride to reach the plateaus from the mountain range. Many rivers originate on the flanks of this massif and flow along the northern side via the plateaus to the lower situated Yukon Flats. From there, via the Yukon, they eventually end up in the Bering Sea.
On the south coast of Alaska, in the mountainous region of the Kenai Peninsula lies Seward. It is surrounded by high mountainsides and in good weather conditions is reflected as a mirror image in a blue bay. It is both a fishing port as well as a tourist attraction and has a sizeable nature and wildlife centre.
The bay is part of the Resurrection Bay, a fjord where the rock formations overwhelmingly dominate, where tidewater glaciers slide into the sea and where the wildlife is present in all its glory.
The Mount McKinley, the Sun King and the cranes
Alaska had a bad spring and even a worse summer. When we arrived in July we heard from the Alaskans that the weather had never been so bad. 38 days of continual rain had severely disheartened them. We put them at ease. We brought the good weather with us from Holland, so it can only get better. Our bold statement worked.
Once again we find ourselves fully emerged in natures wilderness. The tripods, with cameras attached, firmly mounted in the ground piercing right through all the growth in its path. Within a circumference of 25 miles we see centuries of nature’s landscapes of mountains, rivers, high plains, forests and endless snow. The silence is breathtaking, the surroundings cleansing the eyes, the vastness and colourful contours of the landscape bringing with it an overwhelming feeling of inner peace. We let ourselves be taken in by this everlasting wondrous moment, this propulsive moment of nature that no one can stop.
This wondrous feeling of being a part of natures own engulfs us again and again while on our Alaskan travels. These occurrences mostly happen when we least expect them. The morning glory and the setting sun play a big part in these landscape visions. The bad weather conditions with its fierce cloud formation hanging above the water are making us shiver. Not only the weather conditions cause this, but also the overwhelming impressions that the combination of weather and landscapes leave behind.
Once again, my wife Rika, my brother in-law Piet and I are on the verge of donning our casual attire. We are leaving behind the hysterical pressures, the interferences, the television addictions, the pettiness, the financial worries, and the decadence of the western civilization behind, and are going to put on our paradisiacal costume.
We went up north to see the “migration” of the Caribou’s and we did indeed see many Caribou’s. Not the large herds though, but a troop of migrating animals. We were also privy to a very special encounter. A few groups of “Musk Oxen”. Two animals, of which we are still very impressed. Both with a very extraordinary behaviour and both of them have something very pitying and ill-fated about them. The Caribou is one of the deer species that can be found in large herds in Alaska. It is a typical herd animal. They can survive in extreme cold winter conditions and know exactly how to trek effortlessly across the snow plains.
The sky is a clear blue, an icy temperature prevails with an over abundance of immaculate white snow. The Atigun pass gives us an impression of the purity that we have come across from the Brooks Range right up to the frozen Arctic Ocean. It gives one a feeling of freedom to be able to behold this pure white landscape in all its untouched glory. Our footprints cannot be seen here. Our tracks are covered here, and stay hidden for ever. Here nature is the boss and she flaunts this in super abundance. Continue reading