I have been to the Rainy Pass checkpoint on Puntilla Lake many times in my 33 years photographing the Iditarod and spent many nights there. The race was “frozen” there in 1985 and I was stuck there for many days that year.
The Rainy Pass area, both around the lodge and outside of it, is one of my favorite places along the Iditarod trail… Big mountains & vast landscapes. Until this week, I had never been back in the summer… though I’ve wanted to do that forever. Rainy Pass Lodge is the oldest hunting lodge in Alaska, it’s been operating for over 70 years—even before Alaska was a state. So there’s LOTS of history here. With such spectacular scenery I see there every winter, I figured it’d be equally amazing in the summer.
Earlier this year, the owner of The Perrin’s Rainy Pass Lodge, Steve Perrins, and I talked about me doing a 3-5 day summer photo workshop at the lodge and marketing that to aspiring photographers as a combination photography instruction and Alaska Adventure. So this week I was invited up to the lodge http://www.theperrinsrainypasslodge.com/ by Steve to scout out the opportunities for doing such a photography workshop next summer. I was not disappointed. They have several adventures available right there at the lodge and the scenery is spectacular. I went on a short horse-back ride with some other guests up to “lookout mountain” as they call it. We saw 2 grizzly bear sows and they each had 2 cubs. They were only a few hundred yards apart from each other, so we thought we might see some show-down action, but none materialized. I went canoeing on the lake, listening to loons calling. I went on a hike by myself at 5:30 am to get some good morning light on the mountains. It was so quiet and peaceful. Wonderful.
I made an effort to go to some spots that I knew I photographed during the Iditarod and then re-shoot the same place in the summer to see the difference. Below are a few of those images to show you what the different season’s look like there.
Check out this winter aerial and below is a similar view from the summer.
Here you see a picture of the lodge from across the lake during the Iditarod as a team mushes by. Below you can see the same view during the summer shot from a canoe
Another shot from across the lake with a team mushing by the lodge. Below you can see the same view shot during the summer on a canoe.
And last but not least here is Rainy Pass Lodge’s spruce arch first during the Iditarod then below shot this summer.
When I flew out my Iditarod pilot, Danny Davidson, took me on a scenic tour over the Cathedral Spires area just inside Denali National Park. These mountains are about 30 or so miles away and viewable from the Iditarod Trail. They are in some of my Iditarod photos. It was spectacular trip there and out.
I hope to return again this fall and experience the tundra color changing to its bright red and yellow. I ’m looking forward to returning there again during next year’s Iditarod and again next summer to do the photography/adventure workshop
Great Pictures Jeff and very nice write-up. We are really looking forward to some photo workshop / Adventure trips next summer. I think this is really going to be a great mix for folks.
Hi Jeff, excellent images, nice part of the world.
I have seen reference to a crashed H-21 helicopter in the lake (probably ex USAF) and wonder with all your years experience around this area, did you ever sight it?
Colin (aviation historian)