Friday, July 31, 2015

The scenery, Alaskan Vacation: July 20-30, 2015

Each day brought us more magnificent scenery with lighting and weather that changed hour by hour.

M/V Delfinus

We made short hikes through moss-thick woods on some of the islands along the way.

Dan enjoyed the nature walk on West Brother Island, but his attention wanes when photographing scenery is involved.

Our last stop before Juneau was in Taku Harbor to look around an old fish cannery that is now in ruins. Much of the rusted metal has been arranged into sculptural art forms. Hardy seedlings prosper on the tops of the decaying pier supports.

Some other photographs along the way at Warm Springs:

 Masks hanging from the side of a boat moored at Warm Springs Harbor

 Photo of Bunch Berry plant and texture on the bottom of a bog pool.

And, of course, waterfalls:

Fucus (a brown algae) stranded in a tide pool at Basket Bay:

This was a Dolphin Charters trip. Dolphin Charters can be found at or by contacting

I can't say enough good things about Captain Ronn, naturalist John Kipping, and chef Alicia Dominguez. All three were easy to travel with, knowledgeable about the flora and fauna, and extremely competent. Alicia made everyday special with her gourmet meals. For example, one evening she prepared slow cooked roast pork with a cherry reduction sauce sprinkled with morels and a side of mashed potatoes. Each day I looked forward not only to the scenery and animals, but also to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All that was required of me was to get dressed, wash my face, brush my teeth, and grab my camera.

Betty Sederquist has extensive knowledge of Alaska. Betty is a former Alaska resident and has been the photo tour leader for the last 16 years on annual Dolphin Charters trips. Her work and workshop schedule can be seen at

Icebergs and Glaciers, Alaskan Vacation: July 28-29, 2015

We motored past Sum Dum Glacier in the Endicott Arm finding spectacular icebergs along the way as we journeyed toward the South Dawes Glacier. One iceberg with lots of jutting points provided a handy perch for a large group of Glaucous-Winged Gulls.

In the distance we could see the deep, deep blue of a large iceberg. At close range, it did not disappoint.

Each face of the glacier had a different texture and shade of blue.

Threading our way through icebergs and frequent waterfalls, we finally arrived at the face of South Dawes Glacier.

To provide a sense of the scale of this glacier face, the above photo shows a boat anchored between some of the smaller icebergs and the face of South Dawes Glacier.

Leaving the glacier behind, the surrounding mountains looked like polished metal sculptures in the overcast light. The mountains took on a monochrome look while the glaciers remained an otherworldly blue.

Magical day!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bears and Birds, Alaskan Vacation: July 22-27, 2015

Just two days into our vacation, I saw a bear. The Delfinus anchored in Basket Bay and we skiffed into the channel of a salmon stream. We didn't see bears, but the scenery was beautiful with the stream continuing under a rock archway. We skiffed back out and spent some time photographing tide pools and scenery. While I was composing a photograph of the channel with the rock arch in the background, I saw a bear swimming under the arch. I yelled "bear" so others could share the sight, but at the noise, the bear came out of the water, climbed up the rocks, went over the ferns and into the woods.

Our next bear stop was at Middle Creek, a salmon stream, at Windfall Harbor on Admiralty Island. No bears in sight. We skiffed to the mouth of Middle Creek. The bay was roiling with pink salmon who were awaiting high tide to give them the extra push to head upstream to spawn.

Even still, there were many dead chum salmon along the sides of the stream. Before we arrived, eagles, ravens, and gulls were having a feast. 

Hoping for the emergence of bears from the woods, we sat and watched salmon make their arduous way upstream.

Since the bears weren't coming to us, we went to the bears. We did a short hike along "bear trail." Apparently bears are a little "obsessively compulsive" (OCD) and when they move though the grass, they step in the same bear footprint over and over. This OCD repetitiveness left permanent bear footprints along the grassy portions of the trail.

No bears to be discovered inside the moss-draped woods, so we hiked out and returned to the Delfinus just as it began to rain. After dinner, I looked out and discovered that two bears, scattering gulls, ravens, eagles as they traveled, were about to take over the birds' feeding grounds. Captain Ronn has been telling us that rain is "bear weather."

More intensive "bear weather" developed the next morning as we move to nearby Pack Creek. Pack Creek is a popular bear watching site monitored by both Alaska State Parks and Fish and Game. We were the first to arrive onshore and station ourselves at the weather-exposed log to watch for bears. Quickly, we saw a bear called Chino who's mother was called Mocha (get it--MochaChino). Chino didn't stay around too long, but soon another bear, a small female about 1-1/2 years old called Ruby, rewarded us with a visit. The ranger told us that Ruby usually appears when other bears are not present. She is small for her age and still learning fishing techniques. She often stood up and looked around to make sure no other bears were in sight.

After Ruby departed, Dan and I met Captain Ronn on the spit and hiked to the Observation Platform about one mile into the woods. The hike is through a temperate rain forest of lush foliage and tall conifers.

The change of scenery was good because soon after we reached the covered platform, we saw bears meandering up and down the stream in search of salmon.

Another nice photo op at the Observation Platform was being so close to a Great Blue Heron and group of Mew Gulls. They didn't mind the rain.

Captain Ronn was right about "bear weather"; it was a wet and profitable day for both us and the bears.