Saturday, June 27, 2015

AUWPS 2 - Kantishna and the Wonder Lake Area


Natural Habitat:
Denali National Park, larger than the state of Massachusetts, is one of the world’s great wilderness preserves. Denali, which means 'The Great One,' is the native Athabascan name for Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America at 20,320 feet. Its icy summit towers over the tundra and taiga below the provides habitat for grizzlies, wolves, moose and caribou.  
Every photographer who travels to Alaska wants photos of the elusive mountain, and we position you for the best odds of getting them. From our historic lodge base 90 miles inside the park, we are much closer to the peak than most visitors, especially those on organized tours, ever get.  
Here we have time and space to encounter and photograph the wilderness, away from hordes of other people. Hiking, nature walks, biking, fishing and optional flightseeing—a must for photographers—are available.  
The climate and environment of Alaska's interior at this latitude is harsh much of the year, and it takes a vast amount of habitat to sustain animals—wildlife encounters thus tend to be fleeting, though always thrilling!
North Face Lodge offers guests strenuous hikes, moderate hikes, and forays each day. Our merry band of photo tourists stuck to the forays, where our bus motored us out to various points of interest and we piled out for short hikes from there. Today we stayed "close" to the lodge: the western length of the road to Kantishna. Before departing for the day, you pack a lunch from a prep table at the lodge.

We had occasion to walk on tundra today. Wow—not what I was expecting. Like walking on a mattress, except you really never know where your feet are as they descend into to wet underbrush. But that bounciness. So strange. Our eagle-eyed guide spotted a wood frog—the kind that can be frozen into a deathlike trance and then be thawed back into life. We also shot some colorful flora and not-so-charismatic medi-fauna. Generally a relaxing day.

Kantishna and Wonder Lake Area

Upon returning to the lodge, we enjoyed a delicious dinner while a thunderstorm seemed to be coming in. Several of us set up cameras looking east, toward the storm. But the lightning fizzled, so we came away empty-handed. If you wish to avoid empty-handedness, do not take up photography.

Hard lesson of the day: Apple stopped Camera Raw updates for users of Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion between the release of the Nikon D810 and the D750. These releases were weeks apart. But I cannot open/see files from the D750 I rented as a second/backup body on my Mountain Lion powered MacBook Pro (2012). I'm not keen to "advance" into the post-Jobs, California-themed OS's considering the devastation wrought upon the once-proud QuickTime and even prouder Keynote. I'll need to buy a new Mac before I'm forced into Yosemite/El Capitan. (And I have to keep my 2008 MBP to access my old Canvas files… but I digress.) Nikon's raw files are not "beyond" the computational prowess of Mountain Lion, this is just Apple trying to force users into the latest OS by forcing obsolescence on older OS's.

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