Where do I begin when it comes to describing the greatest five days spent photographing the Alaska Railroad ever? Some guys go to Alaska to fill their freezer with moose meat; but I went to Alaska to fill my digital library full of pictures of the Alaska Railroad. While the contents of the freezer deteriorate with age, the new contents of my digital library will only appreciate with time, with much of this trip having been spent on once in a lifetime opportunities that I will be able to enjoy for many years to come. Having lived in Alaska for a time, and visiting thereafter, I must agree with the locals that the extra long weekend of June 7 through June 11, 2013 was one of the nicest stretches of weather in recent memory. Temperatures were in the 80's in the Mat-Su Valley over the weekend. Day after day was full sun for twenty plus hours a day. If the weather was like this all the time everyone would want to live in Alaska.
The attached photograph of Bear Valley was the second, and probably final, opportunity of a lifetime. It was certainly the most challenging photograph I took on the trip. Back in 1986 I had walked back here in winter and taken pictures of the Whittier Shuttle. There was no road back then, I walked in over frozen Portage Lake. On this trip I wanted to take some new pictures to complement the pictures I had taken years ago. A fair amount of effort went into planning this relatively short hike. This expedition was planned for the last day of the trip, Monday June 10, 2013.
This is a picture of the northbound Glacier Discovery train at Bear Valley station – MP 5.5 on the Whittier branch. It's on its way out of Whittier heading back toward Portage.
I was expecting an arduous journey and I was not disappointed in that regard. There were a number of natural and man made challenges to surmount. Wild animals were also a concern. Once I started climbing the snow field everything started looking familiar again and I was able to get to 'the spot' in short order.
Needless to say, I was pretty happy to get back to the car with these images safely in hand.