Photo Walks: Portage Valley in the Winter
As we work through the final plans for a Portage Valley Photo Walk, I thought it would be fun to get you all excited about the meetup. The Alaska landscape transforms into some pretty epic scenes, and the mix of sunlight we get alone is worth just getting out to experience!
Whether you’re visiting town for a day or two, or a local seeking a diverse landscape to shoot, Portage Valley is just the location to play!
Located about 50 miles south from Anchorage, Portage Valley is a thin 14 mile stretch of land that connects the Kenai Peninsula to the rest of Alaska. This is a playground for both photographers and videographers offering endless opportunities.
Five glaciers occupy Portage Valley, Shakespeare, Burns, Byron, Explorer and Middle, which all feed a variety of meltwater streams and rivers throughout the area. This valley offers a diverse mix of wildlife, which include moose, bears, lynx, eagles, coyotes and many more other critters.
Depending on the winter snow, parking can be limited, so be prepared to hike a bit into your desired locations. I recommend snowshoes for better trail access in the Valley, and urge you all to be aware of moose on the trails. The weather in the valley can change very rapidly, so dress warm if you plan to stray beyond the reaches your vehicle.
Constantly changing light in this narrow valley can be a challenge and a revelation. Take your time to wait for the light, as the weather in this valley moves through quite fast. It might be “miserable” outside, but this doesn’t mean you can’t capture great moments and scenes.
The seasonal light, brings great colors and textures that can make photos come alive at this time of year. When the atmosphere is cold and clear twilight and evening photography can be bliss in Portage Valley. This winter you might keep an eye out on the Aurora forecast, because the photography I’ve seen others capture have been amazing! Yes, I’ve been not so fortunate to time it right – this year for sure!
Hike, Skate, Bike, or Ski across it.. To see Portage Glacier in the winter is a real treat. It can seem intimidating to cross such a body of frozen water, but you’re rarely alone and the path is usually well established. Be aware of the signs posted and I recommend no earlier than January as the best travel conditions.
Moose make themselves available year round at all hours of the day, black bears are easier to find in the spring and fall during early morning and evening hours. Bald Eagles feeding on rabbit and other critters can usually be found more visibly along the rivers and streams. This coming winter I plan to spend a bit of time throughout this valley and will camp out in hopes to finally capture myself some Lynx footage.
As a side note – When you find yourself exploring the wooded areas, you might be shocked to find animal traps. Permitted trapping is allowed in the area, and while this isn’t always a pleasing experience for some, and may feel tempted to tamper with the trap – don’t, because you can find yourself in trouble for destruction of property. People tracks and scent does a great job at keeping wildlife away from traps, so curious foot steps might do wonders for your heart.
I could go on and on about the photo tour possibilities in capturing Portage Valley, and certainly if I left anything out please feel free to comment.
I hope you’ll join us when this photo walk announced!