The forecast: Sun and rain mixed with gorgeous

As I write this at the end of August, fall is in full swing.  The colors are just about at the peak of changing, and the central Alaska landscape is incredibly beautiful.  I had heard that this is the prettiest time of year here, and I have to agree.  Right now I’m in love with where I live.

It was a bit rough at times to get to that point this month however!  The first two weeks of August were pretty miserable – cold and constant rain.  I don’t mean it rained every day for a little bit – I mean that it rained for 2 weeks straight.  How cold?  I was wearing heavy sweaters during the day.  In August!   Everyone here was trying really hard to stay positive and motivated.

Thankfully the weather broke and it’s been wonderful in the past 2 weeks.

No big exciting trips this month, so not much to report.  August has been filled with everyday work stuff, hanging out in the evening, and a few camping trips, so I’ll stick to mostly photos and video this time.

Beautiful light, blueberries everywhere, the tundra lit up with fall colors - life is good.

My camping partner said “you can’t go camping without s’mores! Who was I to disagree?

The summit of a random ridge, Denali Highway

Snuggling a Alaskan Husky at Husky Homestead. Four-time Iditarod winner Jeff King and his staff run the most popular tour in the Denali area, a 90 minute tour of his kennels and training facilities. Mostly, everyone just comes to play with the puppies!

About 200 employees and 5 winter employers attended the job fair I organized. It was a great success, and something I am proud of this summer.

BLUEBERRIES!

One of the true delights of being up here right now is the incredible abundance of several types of berries.  The absolute best are blueberries.  If you haven’t seen it in person, you simply won’t believe how many there are.

Blueberries are everywhere on the tundra and taiga now. More than you could ever possibly pick!

WOW!

The fall foliage truly is spectacular.  Combined with the huge mountain vistas and beautiful light…. a panorama comes close to capturing the experience.

Below is one of my favorite shots from the entire summer.  It doesn’t immediately grab you, but there’s a lot going on. Subtle colors in the clouds, the light coming through the rainfall in the distance, streaks of light on the gold, red, and purple tundra, glaciated mountains peaking through the clouds…  I may have to enlarge this over the winter to decorate my room next year.

The light on stormy evenings is very exciting. When I shot this it was a lot of fun to watch the play of light across the tundra.

This video gives a taste of hiking in Alaska (blueberries!), clips from a flightseeing tour, and puppies.  Hiking up here can be beautiful, but also quite tiring because often you feel like you are walking in styrofoam.  I was privileged to be able to once again get on a flightseeing tour, this one went around and over the summit of Denali peak.  The hardcore climbers out there may be just as excited to see Mt. Foraker.  The video ends with Husky Homestead, a short tour given by the staff of Jeff King (4 time Iditarod champion).  Notice the clothes the staff is wearing – I wasn’t kidding about chilly weather in early August!

I have now done the 3 flightseeing plane tours offered in the park!  With luck I will be able to get on the helicopter flights before the season ends.

This video has a WOLF! and a few grizzly bears.  I’m particularly proud of one of the bear shots.  I love the panning effect while the bus was slowly moving forward.  I think it gives an almost 3D effect.  My finest video shot?

It ends with some clips from the final employee photo safari of the season.  Six employees joined me last weekend on a 4 hour drive.  We had beautiful, stormy light, and all of us enjoyed the evening.  One of the final clips shows a very unusual and beautiful rainbow fragment.

TRIPPING THE LIGHT FANTASTIC

The northern lights have started to be visible in the last week.  I was sorely disappointed to wake up Monday morning to find the whole property buzzing about the show on Sunday night.  Veterans said it was one of the best displays in YEARS!!!  Unfortunately it happened at 1am so I was asleep.  I have since asked several people to call me no matter how late if they are out.  The aurora borealis is what I have been most excited to see in Alaska so it will be a huge bummer if I don’t see them!

AND FINALLY…

Work is going well, and is quickly wrapping up.  It’s amazing to me that suddenly I am out of here in 22 days!  My last day is September 21, and I fly out the night of September 22.  I’m busy preparing for the shutdown of employee housing.  I’m also working on a recruiting plan for 2012.  My boss & I presented our initial plan this morning, and I’ll finish it up over the next few weeks.  It includes 3 recruiting trips, a referral program, and a social media campaign.  The recession may be affecting jobs around the US, but it’s still quite difficult to get quality employees in Alaska, so for us, the “war for talent” continues.

Next month will probably be a short post, since I fully expect to have minimal free time during the last 2 weeks of work.

See you soon!

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