September, 2014

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Back in Canada!

So is VivaLaVida back in Canada.
1. Short stop at Beaver Creek, the most western inhabited place in Canada. The church is funny.
2. I decide to head to Haines along Kluane National Park and the lake of the same name.
3. I find a nice boondocking spot for the night…
4. … and enjoy the late afternoon light.
This camp will reserve me a really nice surprise. As I finished preparing my campfire and was in VLV to cut vegetables, I see a cyclist coming. I go out to greet her and she introduced herself. She is a young Englishwoman who performs a solo around the world journey moving only by its own power, human power! She began in London three and a half years ago, first biking through Europe, the former USSR and China, then crossing from China to Japan and from Japan to Aleutian Islands on a rowboat (she has wrecedk in his first attempt, the loss of his ship forcing her to return to England to raise funds and rebuild a new boat) and then padling through all the Aleutian Islands to Homer (Alaska) by kayak where she ride his bike again to go to New York next spring. She will then find his rowing boat again tor cross North Atlantic to London where she will finish her world tour! Really amazing how much energy this young woman has to do this crazy challenge!! Have a look on his website:, it’s worth it.
We will share really good time at VivaLaVida’s campfire and having breakfast together. Hector and Miche, a contact given to Sarah in Anchorage, arrived the next morning to resupply Sarahand we sympathized. I will be invited to eat in their house in Whitehorse a few days later while Sarah will have a little break to equip his bike for the coming winter…
The next morning, temperature was only a rainy 38°F and I admit having had much heart ache to see her having to cycle in this wet and cold weather…
5. Kluane Lake has changed its face in this autumn weather.
6. Gray atmosphere in rain and snow at higher elevations.
7. This time not pleasant for hiking, after a pause in Haines Junction, I decided to go to Mush Lake by a 4×4 route.
8. Left only at about 5 PM, this trail will prove more difficult than I imagined and I reached Mush Lake only at about 9 PM, at night, after some impressive passages of this trail made really slippery by continuous rain. Here, a long water crossing where I wondered which way to take.
9. While the rain stopped during the night, I discovered the lake in the early morning.
10. What a nice camping spot! I’m obviously completely alone there.
11. Back on the same trail…
12. … surrounded by marshes, again and again.
13. Another nice river…
14. … that VivaLaVida crosses without problem.
15. Back on pavement, I made ​​a detour to Katlyn Lake while the weather cleared.
16. VLV continues heading South on Haines Highway…
17. … crossing some passes with great ambiances.
18. What colors!
19. It’s still cold up there, no more than 36°F in afternoon, and the clouds hang to the mountain tops.
20. VivaLaVida on the Haines HWY.
21. Altitude tundra.
22. I make some detours…
23. … here to discover Million Dollars Falls.
24. And go further towards South.
25. …
26. Late afternoon at about 3,300 feet elevation.
Next to come soon… 😀

Last days in Alaska…

As I was writing the last update, I left you in Anchorage without still knowing where VivaLaVida would then head as I wrote the last article.
After some cleaning and laundry tasks, a small weather window seemed to open up to Eastern Alaska where I had spotted a few places to discover. So I took the road again but first stopped not far away from Anchorage, in the Knik Valley, hoping to reach the glacier of the same name. The end of the road has been privatized by a Lodge, so I couldn’t access the trail to the glacier. I thus opted to climb one of the mountains along the west side of the valley to get a view on the glacier…
1. It’s gray and cold when I leave VLV. I finally get some view on the long Knik Glacier ice tongue after two hours of steep ascent. Above, I’ll even get two snow showers and the stormy wind will ping my face. Hello winter! 😀
2. I continue the climb and from this plunging point of view, the Knik River reveals beautiful designs.
3. While I go back down in late afternoon, a few light holes below reveals fall colors.
4. The light becomes more generous…
5. Natural graphics…
6. The other side of the valley is only swamps…
7. Looking North, towards the Hatcher Pass.
I followed the journey driving the Glenn Highway again to reach the Nabesna Valley on an old mining road which provides access to this remote place.
8. Fall colors are now everywhere.
9. I’m on the edge of bad weather that creates a charged atmosphere over volcanoes of the area.
10. The snow is still present in altitude.
11. VLV sneaks up on the long and remote Nabesna Road…
12. Since the road was washed away by some past flood, I will walk the last 6 miles to reach the site of the mine.
13. On a side trail, I discovered an authentic log cabin from early last century.
14. A well-colored indigenous cemetery along the road to Mentasta.
15. Vivalavida then follows the Alaska Highway heading to Canada. Quantities of small lakes and marshes bordering the main road.
16. I stoped at Deadman Lake and had a nice kayak trip on a completely smooth lake…
17. A female duck…
18. … and a little grebe in late afternoon light.
19. The light was awesome when I got the kayak out of the water…
20. … the sun sometimes playing with clouds.
21. Last sun rays on this idyllic lake.
The next day, VivaLaVida left Alaska after more than three months of enchanting discoveries … More from her journey coming soon. 😉

Going back South of Alaska

Before quietly thinking about joining back Anchorage where Mino will take his plane, we still made two beautiful hikes.

1. I initiate Mino to river crossings! This one was only about 32°F.


2. Caribou migration southward began, we see several made fearful by the hinting season opened since almost two months.


3. I never tire of these landscapes…


4. I find other paintings of ice…


5. … that trap pebbles.


6. The next day, we explored a valley north of Antigun Pass to climb a nearby summit.


7. We stop at a pass after a hard climb. The view is gorgious.


8. Mino rests admiring the scenery.


9. Going down, I manage to approach ptarmigans in moult.


10. This one is already quite white…


11. … while the neck of that one just starts to lose its summer color.


12. This end of day still reserve us a beautiful light.


13. VivaLaVida along beautiful granite peaks…


14. … and goes down a large valley.


15. A pond that reflects Chugapak Mountain.


16. Crossing the Brooke Range is really beautiful.


This concludes the report of our visit to the Dalton Highway. We continued towards the Denali where we spent the two last days before Mino’s departure.

17. VLV strikes a pose in an old railway tunnel.


18. Quick “wild” visit (because unauthorized) of a still active coal mine.


19. In a rather aesthetic side canyon.


20. VLV has managed to go up the riverbed to pose in front of the cliffs sculpted by wind and rain.


21. Since it is difficult to realize the size of VivaLaVida on pictures – when seeing for the first time, Mino exclaimed “Oh what a monster!” – I took advantage of her presence to give you the scale. She stands under the mirror..! 😀


22. We are approaching a small lake that will give us a nice camp for the night.


23. The south wind blows in gusts but offers me some sunrays.


24. We sleep on the windy shore…


25. The next day, we explore the mine from the top, after a track more than 35% steep !


26. The fall colors have invaded the forest…


27. … and the tundra.


28. The sky clears as the sun sets down…


29. … coloring the nearby mountains of the last boondocking for Mino.


30. Last colors on the taïga.


That ended the few weeks when Mino traveled in VivaLaVida. She walk the over 180 miles I hiked during these almost six weeks and has cooked me some really good dinners! Thanks to her. 😀

At the time of this writing, I do not know what will be the road ahead yet; so you will discover it in a future update. 😉

Brooke Range and arctic tundra

We continue farer northward…
1. Nolan valley, a side valley accessible by a really muddy small mining road .
2. At this altitude, the marshes are still not frozen.
3. I found the Brooke Range that bars northern Alaska back.
4. We stop a few dozen miles after Coldfoot to go climbing one of the mountains beside the road.
5. While VivaLaVida begins to climb Antigun Pass, the atmosphere becomes wintry.
6. All is already frozen here…
7. … and it is already well below freezing in late afternoon.
8. As it’s already late, we find a nice boondocking site before Antigun Pass, approx. 4,000 feet elevation on the banks of a small river.
9. Despite the cold, I’m going to make some pictures while Mino is preparing the aperitif!
Temp will almost reach 10°F that night and VLV’s heater resume service after resting for a few months…
The next morning we cross the Antigun Pass and stop thirty miles down it to go hiking along a beautiful river.
10. The blizzard that blew here two days previously installed winter before autumn has arrived…
11. Despite a significant current, the banks of the river are well frozen. It was about -5F° in previous days…
12. I enjoy the clear light to play with ice concretions…
13. … sometimes contrasting and twisted…
14. … sometimes carved by running water below.
15. On a bank, we find wolf tracks. It happened here less than two days ago, the snow testifies it.
16. The show is sparkling as the river is freezing and carries plates of ice that break in crystal clear sound…
17. … and our eyes feast.
18. Continuing towards the far north, the landscape becomes truly arctic.
19. Blizzard designed the reliefs.
20. Not sure that the truck drivers who supply Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay are all aware of this beauty…
21. We leave VivaLaVida to walk on a side track…
22. Perfect lines of the wintry tundra…
23. We will not go to Deadhorse, the last part of the track is less interesting. We stop at the last foothills of the Norths Brooke Range…
24. … and even find a camp on the tundra. What a fantastic place to camp, isn’t it? 😀
25. The Sunset is beautiful again…
26. … the last rays coloring the hills…
27. … before a magic full moonrise.
28. And to complete this grandiose day, a northern light came to wish good night to VivaLaVida while the full moon was lighting up the tundra!
We began our descent back to the South the next day. To discover in the next update… 😉
Thanks again for your loyalty!

Richardson & Dalton Highways

Continuing our journey northward, we cross the Alaska Range covered with fresh snow.
1. Exploring a side valley, not far from our camp.
2. The Richardson Highway passes through high mountains with difficult access.
3. Scree dusted with snow…
4. North slope of Alaska Range.
5. In the kitchen, we don’t let go: wild salmon with dill on a bed of spinach, all cooked over our campfire, hummm… 😉
6. After the show of the previous day, we watch the sky and a new northern light appears with the last light of the Sunset still pointing north…
7. We spend almost three hours outside despite a tempestuous wind and biting cold!
8. Paintings are constantly changing…
9. … sometimes very soft…
10. … sometimes very intense.
11. Sometimes the aurora crosses the sky with a truly amazing intensity, almost comparable to that of the moon.
12. We are almost hypnotized by the show…
13. … and the grandiose beauty.
14. After going late to bed, we entered the Dalton Highway the next day. The atmosphere was completely different than during my first visit, I feel like discovering other landscapes…
15. Here too the recent snow still covers the hills.
16. Taiga has completely changed color with warm tones adorning.
17. A picture of Grayling Lake I made during my first visit. If you want, you can compare: it’s the image # 17 ! 😉
18. VivaLaVida on the Dalton Highway.
19. Between the orange-red willows and bright yellow aspen and birch, the colors are incredibly saturated…
20. … and snow further strengthens those.
To be followed soon…

Central Alaska

I’m back after a few days of silence due to a lack of network.
Initially, Mino should leave from Seattle. However, to take advantage of the fall in Alaska, at our last update, we were waiting for a confirmation on the ability to change her return flight to leave from Anchorage. The response was positive and, at the time you’ll discover this update, Mino will be on the plane bringing her back the Switzerland…
As soon as we got the answer, a favorable weather forecast decided ​​us to move north along the Dalton Highway I had already traveled six weeks before. We hoped to discover the fall colors on the tundra and to hike in Brooke Range. We then headed to the Glenn Highway to Glennallen and after a first night at a hundred miles from Anchorage, we woke up enjoying the first snow fall on the surrounding mountains.
1. Matanuska River in ther morning.
2. They are still many clouds on the mountains.
3. The first frosts begin to color the trees.
4. We pass near the huge Matanuska Glacier.
5. Clouds plays…
6. Some hills are really colorfull.
7. With such a nice weather, we decided to go hiking and discovered a small altitude lake.
8. The first snow of the season inspires Mino…
9. … who signs its passage ephemerally… 😀
10. … while for my part, I play with the contrast between the snow and the “willows” colored with their characteristic orange-red fall color.
11. As and when we climb, the view extends over the surrounding valleys.
12. The horizon is so wide…
13. Souvenir picture…
14. After nearly three hours to make our way uphill in the tundra, a break is welcome under a beautiful sky of cirrus.
15. A river that flows from one icefield, more than 40 miles away..!
16. From above, tundra reveals so many small lakes and marshes…
17. The contrast between the warm tones of the autumn tundra and the white snow is beautiful.
18. We enjoy some of the thousands of blueberries that are everywhere.
19. This mix of colors is so beautiful that I would stay there longer and longer…
20. Other lakes as we descend…
21. It’s getting late, shadows contrasted the opposite side of the valley…
22. Continuing the road, I took a foot bath to take this image in a flooded marsh in beautiful sunset light.
23. Vivalavida goes north. In the distance, Mount Drum, another volcano from the large fault extending from the Aleutian Islands to Mexico, and the huge dome of Mount Jarvis.
24. We find a nice camp site near Paxson.
25. And while I’m about to go to bed, surprise: a powerful northern light lights the sky up!
26. This is the first that I have the opportunity to see, what a sublime spectacle… I will lie down only at 2am that night… 😉
The following will take in the far north where we had a small preview of the new winter to come … Coming soon here. 😀

Kenai Peninsula (2)

Still near Homer, the next day we decide to flight over the Harding Icefield, one of the giant icefields that covers the southern Alaska. We chose a small seaplane and to fly between 7:30 and 8.30 PM hoping for a nice light.
1. As soon as we take off, we can see some first glaciers.
2. Fifteen minutes later, we fly over the Harding Icefield : almost 70 miles long and more than 30 miles wide!
3. Large glaciers go in all directions.
4. Besides the pilot, Mino doesn’t loose a crumb of the show.
5. Some light gaps offer me nice views…
6. Motionless cascade…
7. On the way back to Beluga Lake, our “sea strip”, we flew over an island, refuge for thousands of birds.
8. We leave Kachemak Bay at sunset…
9. … with a beautiful view of Kodiak Island in the distance…
10. … to find a wild place in the dunes, near Anchor Point.
11. Sunset over Cook Inlet and Iliamna volcano; there are worse places to sleep, isn’t it? 😉
12. The moon also goes to sleep near the volcano island Augustin…
13. An air of Mount Fuji, isn’t it? But it’s another volcano: Mount Redoubt.
14. Going North to Anchorage, little detour toWhittier and short stop at Portage Lake, a beautiful glacier lake.
15. Whittier harbour, at the bottom of a fjord in Prince William Sound.
16. While seeking for a place to camp…
17. Late afternoon in the mountains…
After this brief jaunt to the Kenai, we’re back in Anchorage awaiting a response to a possible change of Mino’s return flight that could allow us to stay longer to explore this beautiful Alaska. We will keep you in touch in the next update! 😀

Kenai Peninsula (1)

Some better weather taking shape South, VivaLaVida has gone the way of the Kenai Peninsula, South of Anchorage.
1. Sunrise at our boondocking site near Turnagain Pass.
2. I enjoy the morning light…
3. A Fireweed.
4. The mist rises…
5. … and the sun floods our camp.
6. On the road to Seward, a small lake nestled in a valley.
7. Returning from a hike to Lost Lake, overlooking the Seward bay and the Gulf of Alaska.
8. It’s already very dark when I saw this forest grouse female…
9. Lichens decorate the trunks in this much wetter forest than in North.
10. The climate is warmer here in the South, there is “only” 0 to -20F in winter because the ocean moderates the polar cold. So are the trees much bigger even if timberline doesn’t exceed about 1,200 feet.
11. Very wet episode. We have still taken a ride to Exit Glacier hidden in the clouds…
12. Since the forecast were better there, we drove to Homer and the next day was sunny. We clearly saw the Iliamna volcano on the other side of Cook Inlet.
13. We sleep on a beach of Kachemak Bay without forgeting to taste the famous Alaskan Halibut, succulent! 😉
14. A shower at sunset graces us with a nice but short rainbow.
15. On the other side of the bay, the low sun shortly colors mountains.
16. Quiet atmosphere as tide is going down.
17. Last rays on glaciers…
18. And to end this update, a panoramic picture of Kachemak bay.
Following of our discovery of the Kenai to come soon! 😀

Denali National Park (3)

Third day of discovery still hiking. That time, we leaved the bus at Toklat River to climb Polychrom Mountain.
1. New encounter in the morning!
2. He is also ready for a hibernating winter!
3. Starting to climb above the Toklat River.
4. From above, the view is fantastic!
5. As we climb a cliff, we see the same dall sheep with a broken horn than two days earlier.
6. In the morning, we enjoy an unobstructed view of the Giant, “Denali” or “the High One”.
7. Higher in the scree, caribous appear on a ridge.
8. I approached slowly trying to be as quiet as possible…
9. I am now only a dozen yards and when I get up, I discover a two heads caribou! 😀
10. This is a male and a female.
11. Meanwhile, Mino contemplates the landscape…
12. I must say that everything is so beautiful here…
13. These screes bewitch me…
14. I could shoot dozens of times.
15. Clouds are back over the Alaska Range…
16. … but we still have sun here.
17. From there, the rivers form beautiful designs…
18. Scabrous descent into a steep scree!
19. We continue our journey across the alpine tundra…
20. … dotted with small puddles and swamps.
21. Colors are awesome.
22. It is almost 6 PM but we don’t want to leave.
23. Tundra, I love you…
24. The day ends, we must resolve to take the bus back to Teklanika.
25. Last encounter of the day hiking down the Teklanika River to reach the campground…
26. Contrasts…
27. End of a great day for my birthday eve..! 😉
That’s it for our brief stay in this beautiful park. Following of the discovery of VivaLaVida to come in a few days…