When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Them Into Photos!

Ice fog and hoar frost greeted me as I stepped into the inky-darkness on December 1st at 7AM. I was snowshoeing up the Pinnell Mountain Trail in search of caribou. Specifically I was hoping to harvest an individual from the “Forty Mile Herd“, because the hunt opened on December 1st, and would be closed by December 2nd due to a high amount of animals near the road. The goal of the hunt was to harvest 283 animals, and it was projected that hunters would achieve that in one day. In short, it was expected to be a zoo of hunters steaming around on their snow machines. I wanted to skip the crowds and headed north over the snowfields where most people head south. Robert Frost would declare I took the one less traveled.

The sun finally broke over the horizon in 10:15, and I glassed over the shrubs again in the drainage that I sat high above. The sled that I drug made an excellent seat; I was anticipating filling it with caribou! However, 60 minutes of glassing used up 20% of my available daylight, and I decided to move to the next basin. After looking into the nooks and crannies of the next valley, it seemed the drain had been pulled in this basin, if there had ever been caribou there they had emptied out!  By the end of the day I had traveled over 7 miles over mountains, and through the snow, but no caribou to be found.

However, on a beautiful day like this one, there is always a silver lining. Each mountain side was filled with hoar frost encrusted spruces and the day finished with a great moonrise/sunset combination. So, rather than pictures of a trophy, I bring the pictures I shot of the Alaska Winter Wonderland!

By the way, let me know which shot of the moon with trees you like the best, I would love to hear!

As the sun rose the clouds went pink and orange overhead. I was in the shadow of the moutain, and wouldn't see the sun for a few more hours until I reached the otherside!
As the sun rose the clouds went pink and orange overhead. I was in the shadow of the mountain, and wouldn’t see the sun for a few more hours until I reached the other side!
This lone spruce is toughing out an existence on along the ridgetop. Sure is beautiful!
This lone spruce is toughing out an existence on along the ridgetop. Sure is beautiful!
The sun sets along the Pinnell Mountain trail. A great way to end a beautiful day!
The sun sets along the Pinnell Mountain trail. A great way to end a beautiful day!
One more look at the hoar frost as a rounds a large clump of spruces encased in hoar frost.
One more look at the hoar frost as a rounds a large clump of spruces encased in hoar frost.
A beautiful moon splits some spruce trees in the alpine tundra of Twelvemile Summit
A beautiful moon splits some spruce trees in the alpine tundra of Twelvemile Summit
Unfortunately computer screens are too small to do a panorama justice. However, here the moon rises and the sunsets. Pretty cool to capture it all in one image!
Unfortunately computer screens are too small to do a panorama justice. However, here the moon rises and the sunsets. Pretty cool to capture it all in one image!
Up in the alpine tundra of the Pinnell Mountain trail, the moon sits high over all.
Up in the alpine tundra of the Pinnell Mountain trail, the moon sits high over all.
Christmas came early to the Pinnell Mountain Trail - star on top of the tree!
Christmas came early to the Pinnell Mountain Trail – star on top of the tree!

12 thoughts on “When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Them Into Photos!”

  1. I love all of the photos but the moon “star” on the tree is so appropriate for this Advent and Christmas season. So beautiful, silent but speaks so loudly. Thank you, Ian:)

    1. That’s the one that seems to be getting the most votes :). It’s the last photo I took of the day, and I almost chose not to take it, because I needed to keep moving. Glad I took the camera out one last time!

    1. Yeah, the red/orange off the snow field is nice! That cloud line is actually a front coming in that’s dropped 8-10 inches in Fairbanks as I write this. It’s going to be a white Christmas! 🙂

  2. Stunning photography, thank you so much for sharing!! My favorite pic is the one with both the sun and moon together, breath taking!! 🙂

  3. I vote for the moon-top tree. Wish I could do the same for our home Christmas tree…but then we would have to replace your elementary school snow angel as our traditional tree-topper. Tree was pretty tall, how did you get yourself high enough to line up the ornament? The photo directly above it is a close #2 in my voting, I like “King Moon” lording over his kingdom of hoar spires. Also like the deeper color saturation. Whole page is full of “keepers”. Photographic Lemonade indeed!!!

    1. It just kinda lined up. I was lucky because I was on the up-hill side of the tree. But it was pretty tall, maybe 8 feet. One of the biggest on the slope, and probably 80 years old! As I mentioned to Mom, it was actually the last photo I took of the day. My camera glass fogged over (maybe I breathed on it accidentally) and I almost put the camera straight away. But, instead I dug out my lens cloth, cleaned it up, lined up the shot, and pulled the trigger. Glad I did!

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