Our Alaska

Reflecting on the place we call home

Dec 20, 2018

Tis the season to remember what we love about our work, our lives, and our homes. Here, Trustees staff share photos that capture their Alaska. A picture speaks a thousand words, after all. 

Brian Litmans, senior staff attorney

Amy Dalton skiing.

With this year’s lackluster start to winter, I find myself transfixed by photos that capture days from winters past. Cold, bluebird days that invite you into the mountains to play, where the powder is so dry and fluffy that the turns are effortless. Where the low-hanging winter sun casts a beautiful soft light on the peaks around you. Where the only sounds you hear are the wind and the glide of your skins on the snow as you climb towards the ridge. Where the act of simply being in the mountains with friends fills you with a sense of awe and joy.

You know, those days when you get to the bottom of a run and have a huge grin while you pull out your skins to climb back up for another run. Those are the days that reconnect me to this incredible place. Those are the days that fill my soul with the energy necessary to walk into work and take on the goliaths whose only interest is the almighty dollar.  Those are the days that remind me of how special Alaska truly is.

 

Skis, water, ice, dog.

Katie Strong, senior staff attorney

At this point, we’d been slowed down by lack of snow, turned around by a beaver dam that had flooded our intended route, and had spent a day and half battling rumbling stomachs due to a shortage of food.

Yep, one of the food bags was safe at home in the fridge. We spent the morning traveling up the creek, hoping to find a way through to get our trip back on track when we came upon this icy spot. The amount of adventure and the wild, unexpected places you can find in a simple two-day trip make Alaska truly a special place!

 

 

Jennie Frost, paralegal

Bump on a log.

After a long day of walking and watching bears, we returned to our camp at McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge. This young fellow tried to join us for dinner, but had to settle for watching us from the beach. Although no one has ever been harmed by a bear here, it still takes a while to fall asleep to the sound of bears arguing outside my tent.

Even bears need a safe place to lie their massive, furry heads. Their homes are at risk from logging and drilling. Their lives are at risk from unethical hunting practices like baiting and being killed in their dens. We protect what we love, and for me, that’s bears.

 

Bridget Psarianos, staff attorney

Joan Jett at Lost Lake.

I took this photo while skiing at sunrise, but not “early in the morning” considering it was January. We had just spent the night in Dale Clemens cabin and were overlooking Resurrection Bay. I like that this photo shows untracked snow next to Joan Jett’s paw prints, because one of the things I love about Alaska is being able to experience peaceful moments of solitude, and feeling like you’ve escaped into the wilderness with your people and dog while only a few miles away from town.

 

Brook Brisson, senior staff attorney

Della and Brook on a ridge.

Day 1 of a three-day float down the East Fork of the Chulita River launched with three rafts, ten friends, two dogs, more food than we would ever need, but just the right number of river beers. The sun was warm for early September, the breeze off the river cool enough to require an extra layer, and Della always on river-watching duty, howling for more rapids.

For three incredible days we floated 90+ miles at the speed of the river, stopping along the way to fish and snack, playing bocce on the gravel bars after setting up camp, and drinking in the scenery as we drifted by. Weekends like this, and time outside alone with my family and friends is why I work at Trustees—to protect the wild, incredible places in Alaska. Places where we can see no one for three days, even when not all that “remote”. Places that remind me with every view of the beauty of the natural world, and keep me humble about my place in it.

Fireweed.

 

Ashley Boyd, office manager

Before moving to Alaska, I had only visited in the winter. The picture in my head was of white snow and dark green trees. Mostly the whiteness, though. One of my first excursions outside of Anchorage was to Denali. On the way, I came across a field of fireweed, opening my eyes to the colorfulness of Alaska.

 

Suzanne Bostrom, staff attorney

Paddling in the fall.

My family and I took a fall trip to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. We paddled between the lakes in the Refuge over the course of a long weekend. It was so peaceful listening to the loons at night.

One evening, we heard a pack of coyotes running across the landscape, howling and yelping along the way. This picture reminds me of the utter quiet and isolation felt during the trip, which is part of what makes places like this so special and why I fight to protect places like this for future generations.

 

Maresa Jenson, legal fellow

Before reaching the snowy mountaintop, we walked up a broad, glacially carved u-shaped valley filled with mosses and other micro fauna, dense brush exceeding my height, and two brown bear cubs exuberantly playing. Looking over the snow and ice covered expanse, I was thinking about the cubs in this moment, in awe of their home.

 

 

Tracy with Portage glacier behind her, back when you could see it from the parking lot.

Tracy Lohman, development director

I arrived in Alaska on summer solstice 1990. The sun shone all day.  A local told me that the drive to Seward was stunning and not to be missed, so I rented a car and found myself heading south on the Seward Highway. I decided to turn off the highway and explore around the Portage and Byron Glaciers. Who knew glaciers were so accessible – and every shade of blue imaginable? I saw the glacier from the parking lot that day. Now to see Portage, you have to get on a boat. The glacier has retreated over 5 kilometers in the last century. As a 28-year Alaskan, I see first-hand the effects – melting glaciers, warmer winters, and coastal erosion to mention a few.

 

 

Valerie Brown, legal director

I love this picture of Trustees’ staff and board members together enjoying the rainforest in Girdwood, just 30 miles south of Anchorage. One of the first lawsuits I worked on for Trustees involved working with local residents to protect the Girdwood valley. The municipality planned to subsidize a golf course development by giving away public land. That was over 20 years ago.

 

 

Dawnell Smith, communications director

I stepped off the train in Denali National Park in May of 1988. I don’t have a selfie from that day—they weren’t a thing yet—but I know I smiled. I know my lungs embraced the crisp air and my muscles eased into the way of walking. I know the mountains and watersheds felt strangely familiar and wholly essential, and that I would always seek them out, whether I made my home in the Interior of Alaska or Southeast, whether I contributed to small town communities or Alaska’s urban centers. This photo captures for me the awe, joy and humanity inspired by the natural landscapes we share and hold sacred.

 

Vicki Clark, executive director

Woman and canine
Civilization so close
And nature nurtures

 

 

 

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