alaska geographic

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Late day moonrise and dancing, wispy clouds, Alaska

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natgeotravel Video by @tobyharriman// Sometimes the best part of life is confronting a “why?” and then doing it just to see what becomes of it. That was this day, when my buddy @Kyle_kochan and I decided to fly out to Inner Lake George and the Knik Glacier area. Apparently a while back, someone left a green canoe, life jacket and paddles (only one left) around the lake for anyone to use (which I have to say is a very Alaskan thing to do). We found it, and made something special of the experience. It has definitely gone through some damage and duct tape repair, so paddle at your own risk if you ever make it out there!

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Brown Bear Spring Cub Rides Mom’s Back by David & Shiela Glatz
Via Flickr:
Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) spring cub rides its mother’s back after she crosses a slew. The cub’s sibling didn’t make it on mom’s back until later in the week. Lake Clark National Park, Alaska. Chosen as “Pic of the Day” by photo editors for National Geographic’s The Great Nature Project, on Wednesday, August 14, 2013.

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natgeotravel Video by @tobyharriman // Two years ago today my friend Sarah and I woke up in Denali National Park in one of their backcountry units. As we opened the tent flap, to our surprise a grizzly bear was wandering around just below our hill. I quietly set up my camera and was able to capture these peaceful shots as it started climbing up the mountainside. The last clip of the sun hitting him is definitely my favorite. Looks like he found the best view for sunrise. Follow me @tobyharriman for more! 

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The Jumper by Ursula Dubrick
Via Flickr:
Brown Bear Jumping into a creek after salmon

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natgeotravel Video by // @tobyharriman
It was incredible seeing these sea otters playing around in Columbia Bay just out of Valdez, Alaska. We were water taxiing back to Valdez when we passed a group of them. It wasn’t easy hand-holding the camera for this shot, but I was able to come away with some cool slowmo 120fps clips I was pretty happy with. Wait for the little guy/girl to pop back up and have a little stare off. Follow me

It’s cool that Alaska and Australia, the geographic extremes of the Anglophone empires, each have flags of the constellations that define their respective poles

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natgeotravel Video by @tobyharriman// Flying by Knik Glacier was incredible.
That black dirt covering the glacier is known as cryoconite, which is very fine textured dust made of a combination of small rock particles, soot and bacteria. Over time, the accumulation of cryoconite has caused a phenomenon scientists call “biological darkening.” As the powdery dust built up on snow, glaciers and icecaps, it got buried within the ice. However in a self-accelerating process, as more cryoconite is exposed, it further increases the rate of melting and therefore the visual darkening of the glacier.

In this week’s Spotlight essay, Exploring Alaska’s Roadside Glaciers, Emily Epstein features Anchorage-based photographer Mark Meyer, who races against climate change to photograph as many of Alaska’s glaciers as possible. 

A hiker photographs the opening of a moulin—a tunnel that courses though the glacier—in the ceiling of a cave under the Mendenhall Glacier, June 16, 2014. Glacial caves are constantly changing; this cave collapsed a few weeks after this photograph was taken. (Mark Meyer)

An ice wall and exposed crevasse in the Matanuska Glacier, July 22, 2016. (Mark Meyer)

Early morning in front of the Worthington Glacier near Valdez, July 3, 2016. This is the view from an observation deck that is just a short walk from a parking lot and a paved trail. (Mark Meyer)

Ice climbers near the bottom of the ice falls on the Matanuska Glacier, July 22, 2016. During the summer months, guided ice-climbing trips—ranging from simple introductions to the sport to all-day, intensive courses—are available from local guides. (Mark Meyer)

The glaciers don’t crush all the rocks they transport. Those that remain intact are deposited as the glacier retreats and are known as “erratics.” Erratics can range in size from enormous boulders the size of buildings to small boulders, like this one near the terminus of the Matanuska Glacier, July 29, 2009. (Mark Meyer)

A climber scales the face of one of the Matanuska Glacier seracs, July 22, 2016. (Mark Meyer)

An ice “beach” along a supra-glacial lake on the Matanuska Glacier, July 2009. Lakes of melt water often form on glaciers; they can be stable and last for years or ephemeral, quickly draining when crevasses open under the surface. (Mark Meyer)

A guide uses crampons to climb over a moulin on the Mendenhall Glacier, June 16, 2014. Moulins form when melt water and runoff find small cracks and depressions in the glacial surface and erode the ice, creating tunnels. The moulins can be dangerous and extremely deep, leading into the internal plumbing of the glacier. (Mark Meyer)

A hiker (bottom right) is dwarfed by the massive, heavily crevassed ice fall where the Harding Icefield begins its descent into Exit Glacier, August 27, 2016. (Mark Meyer)

Helicopters ferry tourists above the Mendenhall Glacier for aerial views, July 26, 2012. Although several vistas are reachable by foot, many visitors opt to go up in helicopters—a quicker, if more expensive, option. (Mark Meyer)

Jessica Taft pauses above the Harding Icefield, August 27, 2016. The ice field is thousands of feet thick, but it does not completely cover the mountains; those peaks that stick through are called “nunataks,” from the Inuit word for “lonely peak.” (Mark Meyer)

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natgeotrave lVideo by @tobyharriman // It’s hard not to keep visiting this area, it just blows me away with each time I come. The way the weather moves through this valley helps make it feel special every time. No matter how much suffering and complaining I do from carrying too much gear up to these huts, the reward is always worth it. Incredible views, but one of my favorite parts is the amazing people I get to meet in these remote places!