Wandering Adak: photographs from an Aleutian Island outpost

In 2009, my friend Ryan and I taught ourselves how to hunt an introduced herd of caribou on the remote Aleutian island of Adak, 1200 miles southwest of Anchorage.

We’ve returned twice since that first year, honing our hunting skills, helping to keep the non-native herd in check and harvesting meat for our freezers to avoid purchasing expensive, energy-consumptive grocery store meat. While we find it difficult to kill such a beautiful animal (it never gets easier), we find fulfillment in the process of procuring our own food.

But what I’ve come to love more and more with each trip out there is the opportunity to  unplug entirely and be present with my friends and with the moment. The steady hum of incoming information is silenced while we’re out there. Instead, information is gathered by watching the skies for weather or glassing the valleys for animals. Our focus becomes dealing with the delightfully dramatic fluctuation of weather scenarios–commonplace in the Aleutians–and staying well fed and hydrated amidst many miles to be walked between hunt sites, camp sites and meat hauls. All of this while enjoying the company of good friends.

I shot a lot of pictures on this trip–I really want to illustrate the variable weather and terrain that can be experienced in such a short time-frame and space. Here is a selection of those (hopefully informative) photographs from our week on Adak. Please scroll over an image to see a caption about it. (Also, warning! Halfway down there’s a closeup image of a caribou carcass after being picked apart by eagles. If you’re inclined to be queasy, please move on).

Spring in Alaska: my favorite drink to drink

I think what I remembered today is that there is no season as special as the spring season–especially in AK. The air is thick with promise of freedom to roam, of adventures planned and unplanned. The landscape begins to open up and invite you in–and it’s a warm invitation, like from a close friend that thought of you first when he planned his party…not like winter which invited you to his party as an afterthought and mentioned in chicken scratch at the bottom of the invitation: “come if you want, but we might not have enough food for you.”

The sun just lingered tonight, slowly deepening in color, sinking into its daily demise at the head of Mount Susitna. Soon it will be sinking into her feet! What a promise! It will never get dark again! And if it does, let’s make sure we don’t sleep until then.