Posted by: kerryl29 | November 22, 2021

Alaska II, Day 1: Creamer’s Field

As noted in the last post, after flying into Anchorage on August 23 and staying there overnight, Ellen and I picked up our rental vehicle (a Jeep Cherokee SUV) the following morning and drove to Fairbanks, following a stop at Stewart’s Camera. Driving distance from Anchorage to Fairbanks, via the George Parks Highway (AK-1), is approximately 360 miles. We didn’t break out the cameras on the drive, partly because the vehicle was packed pretty tightly, but mostly because we didn’t have any great photo opportunities. We almost had one; we spotted a good-sized moose off the side of the road, but by the time we’d turned around and maneuvered into position to have a decent look, the moose had ambled into the forest and vanished.

We arrived in Fairbanks by late afternoon–around 5 PM–and checked into our lodging and unloaded the vehicle. By this time it was around 6 PM. The weather wasn’t great–fairly chilly (around 50 degrees F) with occasional light rain. Nonetheless, having spent the vast majority of the past two days sitting, we were anxious to move around. With more than three hours of daylight left we decided to pay a visit to Creamer’s Field Migratory Wildlife Refuge, which was only about 10 minutes from where we were staying. Having visited the refuge three years earlier (almost to the day), on our previous trip to Alaska, we were familiar with the lay of the land.

We saw hundreds of sandhill cranes at Creamer’s Field back in 2018; this time, we heard quite a few cranes, and briefly spotted a few flying overhead, but they were clearly hanging out in a different, less accessible, part of the refuge, so there were no crane photos this time around.

We had really been impressed by the Boreal Forest Trail at Creamer’s Field when we visited three years earlier. The trail winds through a birch forest and wetland area and had numerous great photo opportunities. We hoped to mine this area again.

Before we hit the main part of the trail we stopped at a couple of spots that provided really nice reflections of part of the birch forest in a marshy area. It was here that we made our first images of the trip.

Birch Reflections, Boreal Forest Trail, Creamer’s Field Migratory Wildflife Refuge, Fairbanks Northstar Borough, Alaska
Birch Reflections Black & White, Boreal Forest Trail, Creamer’s Field Migratory Wildflife Refuge, Fairbanks Northstar Borough, Alaska

There was almost no wind, so the water surface was glass-like and yielded terrific reflections.

Birch Reflections, Boreal Forest Trail, Creamer’s Field Migratory Wildflife Refuge, Fairbanks Northstar Borough, Alaska
Birch Reflections Black & White, Boreal Forest Trail, Creamer’s Field Migratory Wildflife Refuge, Fairbanks Northstar Borough, Alaska
Birch Reflections, Boreal Forest Trail, Creamer’s Field Migratory Wildflife Refuge, Fairbanks Northstar Borough, Alaska
Birch Reflections Black & White, Boreal Forest Trail, Creamer’s Field Migratory Wildflife Refuge, Fairbanks Northstar Borough, Alaska

Then we moved on to the main part of the trail…and were immediately met with a problem. The trail includes an extensive series of boardwalks that traverse the marshy areas and provides access to the interior of the birch forest. The boardwalks–on both ends of the loop–were partially under water and partially destroyed. There was no way to gain access to the forest. This was disappointing, but we spent a bit of time mining the part of the trail that skirted the edge of the groves of trees.

Birch Forest Intimate, Boreal Forest Trail, Creamer’s Field Migratory Wildflife Refuge, Fairbanks Northstar Borough, Alaska

I was again grateful for the lack of wind as it allowed me to make heavy use of focus stacking; the technique was a must to obtain the compositions I found compelling.

Birch Forest Intimate, Boreal Forest Trail, Creamer’s Field Migratory Wildflife Refuge, Fairbanks Northstar Borough, Alaska

Even though we were still more than an hour shy of “sunset” (the copious cloud cover made the notion of seeing the sun go down seem utterly absurd), it had become quite dark and as it started to drizzle for at least the fifth time since we’d reached the refuge, we decided to call it a day and trudged back to our vehicle. The experience hadn’t been quite what we’d hoped for, but there had still been a few decent image making opportunities.

We hoped that the next day would be more productive; we had all day to make our way to and up the Dalton Highway to Wiseman, in the heart of the remote Brooks Range.


Responses

  1. Excellent photos of Alaska!!

  2. Great reflections, the arching trunks really add to the composition

    • Thanks, Jane!

  3. One could do worse than be a reflector of birches.

    • I couldn’t agree more.

  4. […] an abbreviated photo session at Creamer’s Field on Day 1, we prepared to make our way to Wiseman, roughly 270 driving miles from Fairbanks and 190 […]

  5. […] is that I’m mentioning it here? I was reminded of the situation when I produced the posts for Day 1 and Day 2 of the trip. That exercise served as another prompt; there hadn’t been a lot of […]


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