Imagine the population of Austin scattered across an area 2 1/2 times the size of Texas with some of the most striking scenery in North America, and you will begin to get a sense of Alaska's vastness, remoteness, and stark beauty. Alaska is, however, so much more: a land awash in fire and ice, a land of mystery and adventure, a land in which a person can stand alone with Nature or mingle with some of the friendliest people in the world. Alaska is also, like so few other places in the world these days, a land in which humans are not running the show.
Half of Alaska's population lives in the city of Anchorage, with another 1/6 living in Juneau and Fairbanks. The remaining 200,000 are distributed around the state in various small towns and villages, giving Alaska a population density 5 times lower than even Wyoming. There are only about half a dozen highways in Alaska, and that's including the ones that aren't paved. Much of the state is only accessible by plane, and the coastal areas are interconnected by the Alaska Marine Highway, an extensive ferry system spanning over 8000 miles of coast and connecting over 30 ports in Alaska and British Columbia.
This photojournal chronicles the adventures of twelve residents of the lower 48, mostly from the L.A., Chicago, and D.C. areas (plus myself and Jen from Austin.) The group consisted of ten singles and a retired couple, and only two people didn't know anyone else in the group prior to the trip-- it was an interesting dynamic. Upon meeting our tour guide Matt, we instantly knew that he was as much an integral part of the Alaskan wilderness as anything else we'd see that week. Like most of Alaska's population, he didn't come from there originally, but after spending a week with him, it would be hard to imagine him anywhere else.
Throughout the week, our band of 13 would circumnavigate an area perhaps 5% as large as the whole state, starting in Anchorage and traveling around the southeastern corner where most of the roads are. During our expedition, we would climb across active glaciers, paddle through the tundra, hike and raft in the early September snow, see the tallest mountain in North America by plane, and witness a dizzying array of wildlife set against the pristine arctic tundra ablaze in the hues of fall.
This album has 345 photos in total.