Alaska: Day 5 - Glaciers and Inlets

The sun was up well before we left the Reid Inlet at 5:15am and the beautiful glow of sunrise washed over the mountain tops and kissed the clouds. 

Sitting there, gazing at this glacier, it was hard to grasp that just over 100 years ago, this glacier filled the entire inlet. 

When we set our alarms the evening prior, we decided to return to the John Hopkins Inlet during early morning light to photograph the glacier.  

After traveling north for an hour, we reached the inlet and we were still surrounded by a lingering soft pink light, one of the many perks of summer days in the northern part of North America. 

Gilman Glacier

Gilman Glacier


John Hopkins Glacier

We photographed the glacier for a half hour before I, again, had the urge to hit the water on my SUP. 

It was not safe for our boat to be close to the ice, because the potential for quickly becoming surrounded by ice was too great, but on my board, I knew could paddle through the smaller chunks and get some unique compositions.  

I wrapped my Canon 5D Mark III in a waterproof bag and took to the water. I was nervous about taking the camera out of the bag, but my comfort level and confidence on the board gave me the courage to take a chance, so I kneeled down and snapped a few shots. 


Photo by: Casey McCallister

Tarr Inlet & Margerie Glacier

After 2 hours in the John Hopkins Inlet, we ventured a bit farther north, right to the Canadian border, into the Tarr Inlet with high hopes of seeing this advancing glacier calve. 

Margerie Glacier 7-image pano

Margerie Glacier 7-image pano

We hadn't been there long when a small boat greeted us; the first small boat we had seen outside of the small radius around Barlett Cove.  

For over 4 hours, we floated in the inlet, making breakfast and enjoying the abnormally warm day on the deck of the boat, while waiting for chunks of ice to splash into the sea, but we still longed to see a massive chunk fall, sending wakes our direction. 

Just as we began to think we should venture on, we witnessed the most incredible calving; a section of ice over 100 feet tall came crashing into the water. 

A few moments later, we were riding the wake. 

When we began to leave, we noticed a cruise ship had made its way up the Tarr Inlet. They floated for a few minutes before turning around to allow guests on both side of the ship a view of the glacier. We waved to everyone and then headed towards Bartlett Cove. 

Back to Bartlett Cove

Boating has never seemed tedious to me, even if it requires hours on the water to arrive at a destination.

I grew up with parents who would waterski over a dozen times a year, which means I spent countless hours on boats. I'm sure that's why I love being on the water. 

The ride back to Bartlett Cove was four hours, but there was so much beauty, and even a few critters, to stare at along the way. 


The End of a Day

We arrived at Bartlett Cove around 5:45pm, had dinner in the lodge and ended the day with a beautiful sunset. 

Alaska: Day 4 - Glacier Bay National Park & Reid Inlet

Day 4 began at 4:30am with the alarm clock sounding in a Juneau hotel room. It was time for Casey and I to head to the airport and fly back to Gustavus to continue our adventures in Glacier Bay.

The Juneau airport is an interesting place. There's no such thing as a security check, and calling what we did a "check-in" feels exaggerated, but we were happy to get back on track with the original adventure.


Juneau To Gustavus, By Air

Leaving Juneau

Leaving Juneau


After a beautiful morning flight, one that Casey was actually able to photograph, we landed in Gustavus. It was only 6:15am, but we managed to negotiate a ride back to the dock with the Glacier Bay Lodge van taking guests to the hotel in Bartlett Cove. 

By 9:20am we were back in the boat, heading north towards the glaciers once again, almost as though we never even left the water. 


The Mountains

During the 4-hour trek north, I found myself staring at the snow and glacier capped mountains, imagining how cold it would be if my feet were planted deeply in the snow, rather than enjoying the warmth of the sea level temperatures.


That was actually one of my favorite things about traveling on the boat, gazing at the surroundings, because unlike a car, there are things to look at every few feet. In those moments traveling freely, surrounded by landscapes of grand scale, it was difficult not to feel small. There were no roads, lanes or other vehicles to distract from the beauty, and in Glacier Bay National Park, it was no shock there were glaciers everywhere. 



The Cerulean Waters

Photo by Natalia Stone

Photo by Natalia Stone

The further we advanced into the bay, the lighter and more teal the water became. Once we rounded the last mountain and began our trek into the John Hopkins Inlet, we began to see icebergs. 

I had to get closer, so while the boat floated around and everyone was snapping photos of the glacier, icebergs and seals, I hopped in the water. 

Photo Casey McCallister

Photo Casey McCallister


When I made it back to the boat, it didn't take much convincing to get Joe in the water. It was only his second time on a paddle board and fortunately for him, his balance and skill allowed him to stay dry. 

Reid Inlet 

Most of the trip is difficult to put into words. I felt alive, unlike I ever have before. My mind constantly felt stimulated and my soul was filled with a fire that was burning hot. 

If I had to pick the strongest, most vivid memory, it would probably be the 12 hours we spent in the Reid Inlet. 

We dropped anchor 100 feet from the shore inside the inlet at 6:10pm. It took a few moments before I was able to grasp what I was seeing. At the end of the cove, down to the water's edge, was an enormous glacier. 

The four of us wandered around the deck of the boat for only a few minutes before we decided we needed to head to shore, grabbing only our iPhones as we stepped onto the paddle board and into the skiff. 


We wandered the rocky shoreline for almost a mile, discovering flowers, wildlife and even a few small icebergs, but the entire time I was focused on standing next to the glacier at the end of the cove. 

I had seen glaciers before, but never so close to feel crisp air and mist on my face and the roar of the melting glacial ice, louder than the thoughts inside my head. There were also sounds mimicking explosions, sounds of thousand year old ice cracking and breaking, creating history as I stood a few feet away. 


Nearly two hours had passed by the time we started the walk back. It was nearing 9:00pm and golden hour had just begun. The sunlight kissed the mountains and clouds with a beautiful glowing amber and we had the entire shoreline to ourselves. 


For a moment, while walking back towards the boat, we all looked at each other, almost as if to say, "I wish I grabbed my other camera."

We all said it aloud a few moments later and laughed, but we knew the freedom and experience we had without our gear was worth more than the images we would have taken.

The light was perfect. The landscape was breathtaking and we were alone; the whole cove and shoreline to ourselves, but we actually lived and breathed in the moment. 

In an instant, the dream-like state vanished when we realized the tide had come in and the skiff had floated into the middle of the bay. 

Casey began to run and I followed. As I got closer, I could see that the paddle board was resting safely on the shore, though just barely, which meant we at least had a way of retrieving the skiff that didn't involve a swim in some very cold water. 

Photo by Casey McCallister

Photo by Casey McCallister

After returning to the boat and cracking open a few beers, we turned around to discover we were going to end the incredible day watching the full moon rise over the Reid glacier. 

Exploring Oregon with my iPhone

Last weekend, I spent a few days venturing around Oregon with friends. Saturday we explored the many waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge and on Sunday we wandered the Pearl and South East Districts of Portland as well as Cathedral Park.  

I really enjoy getting to experience new environments and since this was only my second trip to Portland, it still all felt very new. The air smelt different, very fresh and crisp. The skyline was instead blocked by trees, not massive buildings. The weather was much colder and wetter than San Francisco and the amount of nature and greenery I absorbed was overwhelming.

During my travels, I always try to also capture my experiences with my iPhone because of the freedom to easily photograph an instant without altering the moment by setting up a DSLR.

(The images below were edited with VSCO and Rookie for iOS.)

Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls

Panther Falls 


Panther Falls


Brian Bonham shooting Panther Falls

Brian Bonham shooting with his Yashica at Panther Falls

Bronty enjoying the cool streams

Cathedral Park, Oregon

Saint John's Bridge 

Saint John's Bridge 


Saint John's Bridge


South East Porland

Former electrical supply company

Former electrical supply company

Former electrical supply company

Former electrical supply company

Former electrical supply company

Brian Matiash at a former electrical supply company

Former electrical supply company

Pearl District, Portland

Cargo Imports

Cargo Imports

Cargo Imports

Cargo Imports

Cargo Imports

Photo: "You've Got A Way"

Glacier National Park, Montana 

There is something about nature that changes me completely. I've always been an observant person, but in nature that escalates to an even grander scale. I observe every vibrant flower, falling leaf, crawling inchworm, tiny singing bird, glimpse of a snowcapped mountain and still pond. I notice things most people don't see, but I rarely photograph those things because in nature, sometimes I love just being an observer. 

During the hike to Avalanche Lake a few weeks ago when I visited Glacier NP, I saw this still patch of water along the river and the only way I could imagine it as a photograph, was if I shot it with the camera resting on the ground. I guess a part of me always imagines what the world would look like if I were 2" tall. 

 (Buy a print)

Travel Companions: When You Get It Right

In the past three years, I took my first trip to the East Coast (and returned six more times), took my first trip to the Southern US, Portland and made two trips to Death Valley all in the name of photography. I have traveled with friends I've known for years and sometimes jumped in the car to drive hundreds of miles to hang out with dozens of people I've never met before. I can honestly say, I have been incredibly lucky to find such awesome travel companions. 

On the most recent trip to Death Valley, I travelled for the first time with +Brian Matiash, +Brian Bonham, +Ricardo Lagos and +Matt Kloskowski (whom I met when we arrived.) Over the last year, I have developed friendships with them online and in person, so I knew this trip would be a blast. The reason it worked so well had to do with us having a similar sense of humor and not taking anything too seriously. I find that to be a very important aspect of the relationships I create. If we don't laugh together, it just won't work.

Life is far too short to spend time not hanging out with the people who make you laugh so hard your stomach hurts.