This past week I received a text from Anchorage based photographer Logan Hether. His text was an invitation to make a trek from the Knik River Lodge to Knik Glacier, 15 miles southeast of the lodge. Very interested I reached out to my friend Norman Rockwell and asked if he would like to join. Norman was raring to go so we planned to head out on Thursday night. Our 7 hour drive began at 7PM as we headed south.
Now if you've ever traveled the Parks Highway you understand the pure beauty of its surroundings. It's very hard to resist stopping every hour, so after a couple hours we arrived in the small Alaskan town of Healy. I had been raised in this town for over 10 years of my life and found it essential to stop at one of the most beautiful places in the area, Stampede Trail.
Stampede Trail may sound familiar to some, famed for its part in the true story "Into the Wild." This was the last road Christopher McCandless set foot on before his death in August of 1992. Stampede Road is surrounded with lush never ending tundra, and the impetuous peaks of Denali National Park. This made for a great photo opportunity just around the time of sunset.
We spent around an hour photographing the golden sun, with no sound besides a slight wind that carried the faint howl of a near by dog team. It was hard to leave, but we forced ourselves to get back on the road. It was 10PM and we were still looking at another 5 hours of driving.
*fast forward 5 hours*
Arriving at the Knik River Lodge around 4AM we pulled in, kicked the seats back, and went right to bed.
The next morning we woke up to Logans knock on the car window and in his hand he held 2 hot cups of cocoa. We had some breakfast, finished our drinks, threw our packs on and began our 15 mile hike to Knik Glacier.
We started at Hunter Creek and took our first steps in thick mud and high marshes due to the spring melt. Eventually we made it out of the mud and found a four wheeler path that took us 6 miles up the river bed, where we met the crystal blue water of the Knik River. The temperature of the water approached 15 degrees, so there was no way we could cross.
Norman, Logan, and I were forced to scale the cliffs that met the edges of the the river, after following game trails and small beaches for about 2 miles we emerged next to Knik Glacier.
Exhausted from our 15 miles hike, we immediately setup camp, started a fire, and ate some food. Quickly after Norman crawled into tent while Logan and I nodded off next to the fire.
The next morning we awoke to the sound of coyotes howling on the mountain next to us, and the faint glow of the sunrise above. I stumbled out of my sleeping bag, grabbed my camera, and headed over the ridge to photograph the morning colors. It was stunning.
Once the sun had rose above the glacier we spent a few hours exploring. We then packed up camp and began our trek back to Knik River Lodge. Where Norman and I will begin our 7 hour drive north of the Parks Highway.