Wonderful winter in Baja

Many people would probably celebrate the lack of winter in Alaska this year. But for me and my wife Nancy which love snow, cold, and backcountry skiing it was quite depressing with rain, warm temps, and a thin crust of dirty snow in the backyard. Photographically it was a disaster, how do you convey the feeling of winter when the snow is dirty and there is dead brown sticks everywhere?

The solution escape to Mexico where there is no expectations of snow. We started out with a week long backpack trip in the Laguna Mountains, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The friendly rancheros that live in around the mountains was a highlight, especially Prisciliano at Rancho Ecologico Sol de Mayo. Most tourist come here for a few hours to see the amazing waterfall, but be wise and spend a few days, explore the area, learn from Prisciliano and enjoy the amazing hospitality.

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Yet – another amazing swimming hole. Please be careful to not contaminate the precious desert water with sunscreens, soap, and other chemicals.

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Yes – we actually got three days of straight rain, and in our infinite wisdom we didn’t bring a rainfly to our tent as it never rains in the desert. Luckily this boulder had a great overhang that sheltered us for one of the nights.

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The terrain is steep and rugged with granite slabs and boulders, surrounded by lush and very diverse vegetation.

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The higher elevations has an amazing forest with Oak and Pine tress mixed with Joshua trees, and covered in lichen and moss communities.

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After crossing the range from east to west, we enjoyed another stormy night on the Pacific Ocean.

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With sore knees and feet the ocean was calling us, and we went sea kayaking around Isla Espiritu Santo.

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Amazing sunsets was one of the highlights, but so was the wildlife. Fun to see the American Oystercatcher patrolling the beaches, and the Magnificent Frigatebird at their nesting colony.

 

 

 

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Wild Food

After the mountains, Nancy and I headed out on a personal Sea Kayaking trip in Prince William Sound. The catch with this 15-day trip was that we had to catch or starve. In other words the only food we had with us was a rich supply of spices, salt, sugar and oil, to flavor and preserve the wild food we caught and collected. Luckily we had planned it well and it was berry and salmon season in Alaska. It was a fantastic trip and it will be featured in the June 2015 issue of Adventure Kayak Magazine.

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The only planning “mistake” we did was including the two wettest stormiest weeks of the summer in our trip. Yes – it pretty much rained non-stop the 13 first days. But it is nothing like hunger to get you out of the tent to catch and/or collect dinner in the rain.

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Talkeetna Mountains

After the Canning River I and my wife Nancy lead a backpacking trip in the Talkeetna Mountains. Another amazing wild area in Alaska. Since we were backpacking camera gear was limited and I only carried my trusted Nikon D700 with one spare battery, and the amazingly versatile Nikon AF-S 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 ED VR. With a total of two batteries I actually had plenty of power to spare on this two week trip, as long as I resisted the temptation to “chimp”.

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Not only does it have some amazing scenery, but also some really rugged terrain. No maintained trails here, but we found a few precarious sheep trails clinging to the scree slopes.

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Wildlife is amazingly tame, such as this Rock Ptarmigan with its clutch of young chicks.

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I love the antics of the Wandering Tattler as it walks the streams, constantly wagging its body.

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The fragile tundra was in many places carpeted with Eight-petaled Mountain Avens.

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A magical spot with a rock glacier flowing into this lake and coloring the water blue-green with glacial silt.

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