Elsewhere Wednesday: Portage Valley, Alaska (17 April 2009)

Portage Valley;
Portage Valley, Alaska (17 April 2009).

With Thanksgiving about to land upon us, and with November starting to give way to the impending crush of December, let’s skip back to April of 2009 in southcentral Alaska. These are photographs of Portage Valley within the Chugach National Forest region near the edge of the Kenai Peninsula. Looking back, it still blows my mind that these photographs were taken in April. Spring comes a bit late in Alaska.

Portage Valley terminals at Portage Lake and Portage Glacier. In the bottom photograph, you can see Bard Peak standing guard over the frozen sheet of Portage Lake — my favorite lake to photograph in Alaska. Portage Glacier is not actually visible in any of these photographs; I’ll save that post for another time.

During my four years in Alaska, I noticed a bit of a pattern. I called it “April is the Cruellest Month.” By mid-April, southcentral Alaska often thawed out quite a bit —to the point of even kicking in some new spring growth— only to be hit again by a massive April snowfall. Seriously, this mid-April snowfall would be epic. It wouldn’t last for too long, but my god it would snow. Fresh white powder on everything. One final parting shot from the receding winter.

Though the Florida Swamprat in my soul may have liked to piss and moan about this mid-April snowfall, I always found it remarkably beautiful and exciting. Mid-winter snow in Alaska can be a bit icky. Grey stuff. Worn, weathered. Gross even… Then, by April, most of that grey stuff would melt away, and Alaska would then drop a thick coat of shimmering white stuff on damn near everything — a final coat of glistening white to remember the past winter by. Try as I might, I couldn’t complain. It was so damned beautiful. And deep!

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