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Along the roadside, Willow Ptarmigans (state bird of Alaska), congregated in the snowfall. By winter, their plumage will have changed to completely white as a camouflage from their predators, A member of the arctic grouse family, they don’t mind standing in the snow because their feet are feathered!

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Jumping ahead to more recent travels, we just returned from Denali National Park in Alaska. It’s the end of the season for the “in-park” accommodations, and we had the opportunity to see not only spectacular fall colors, but significant snow as well! The most exciting opportunity, however, was the appearance of the Aurora Borealis on the second night there. It is something I had never seen before, but hope to many times again. In this image, notice the Big Dipper underneath the Aurora lights.

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We went through over 100 rapids on the river, many of them Class 10. The Colorado River, as with several other big rivers in the West, use a scale of 1-10 to rate the difficulty of the rapids to navigate, with 10 being the most difficult. This is Hance Rapid, class 7-8. I disembarked before the rapid and walked downstream to a location where I could shoot the rafts coming through. This was not our craft coming through. It was one of the dories traveling parallel to us.

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The hike up Clear Creek was challenging, mostly at the beginning where we had to scale both sides of a slippery rock about 30 ft. tall. As every day, the temperature would be climbing to about 105 degrees, so at the end of the hike, that tall black rock was burning hot. But the reward in between was the view above. A spectacular spring-fed waterfall!

 

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ImageOn the trail up to the Nankoweap Granaries, I saw a group of dead trees, very black in color. Behind these trees, the red face of the wall across the river made a beautiful contrast. So, while everyone else in our group continued up, I stopped and set up for this image. I framed it in different ways; this is the one that gives the feeling of the scene as I saw it — striking, dramatic, simple.

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