Rick Fine went to Alaska and all we got were these amazing photos.
Sensible Financial’s advisors and operations team work hard to keep up with new technology, regulations, and their clients’ needs, so it’s important for each member to have a fulfilling life outside of work and some work-life balance. Some members hike, watch sports, volunteer, or travel. Rick Fine photographs nature.
Rick, Director of Financial Planning, intrepid traveler, and talented photographer recently traveled to Alaska on a photography trip. While he was there, he hiked, kayaked, flew, and bushwhacked his way through some gorgeous scenery.
Rick began his trip on a boat, cruising for a week from Juneau throughout southeastern Alaska. During the cruise, the approximately 50 passengers and crew took skiffs ashore, hiking to even less-traveled areas to view and photograph the wildlife.
At the conclusion of the cruise, he flew to Anchorage and then, by small single-engine plane, to a remote lodge in southwest Alaska. Every day, he and the other photographers flew in small planes to streams and meadows where they might see bears or otters. Each day meant another plane trip and another long, wet hike in heavy boots and high waders in their hunt for bear — to photograph.
Lake Clark, and Katmai, and bears: Oh my!
They traveled in the areas around and between Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks and the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, where brown or grizzly bears spend much of their time. The terrain was difficult to negotiate, and the photographers often struggled to trudge their way through the deep mud while carrying their equipment and rations.
There were a dozen people on these treks, eleven travelers and a young college student guide named Caleb. He may have been young, but Caleb grew up with the bears and knew what he was doing. It seemed to the group that he was born on a wilderness trail. Oh, and he carried a can of bear spray, just in case. Bear spray is kind of like mace for bears. The only thing is, to use it, you must be uncomfortably close (think 10 feet) to the bear. The guide explained it was better for them to stay far away from the bears. They agreed.
“Stay in a tight group formation”, he said, “and If you see a bear, just back off slowly. The bear will probably lose interest. If he doesn’t and keeps coming, I (the guide) will stand tall and say, “NO!” in a strong voice. If that doesn’t work, it’s time for bear spray.”
Fortunately, they didn’t need the bear spray on this trip, although a bear did walk a little too close to the group at one point. The photographers were taking shots when a bear grew tired of the paparazzi. Their guide advised the travelers to back away slowly and quietly. Rick had been crouched to take ground level shots and slipped as he tried to get up, making noise in the process. That riled the bear momentarily, but soon he decided it wasn’t worth it and ambled back to his cubs.
Alaska is still a wild place
During his trip Rick saw bears, eagles, otters, seals, and a whole lot of beautiful Alaskan scenery. He also saw Richard L. Proenneke’s cabin. Proenneke built the cabin in the summers of 1967 and 1968, using wood and stone he found in the area and hand tools, many of which he made himself. In an unusual move, he filmed the entire construction process. Proenneke lived in the cabin for thirty years without electricity or running water. He had lots of friends in the area and became a big tourist draw. He kept a journal of his life in the wilderness and corresponded with anyone who wrote to him. Even after Lake Clark became a National Park in 1980, authorities, cognizant of the local relationships he had and the value he brought to the park, allowed Proenneke to stay in the home he built until he decided he was no longer able to live in the wild alone.
That same pioneer spirit filled their bear guide, Caleb and the bush pilots that shuttled the crew between the lodge and bear country and back again. Rick was impressed by their skill, their confidence, and their attitudes. They worked hard, but Rick got the impression they played hard, too.
Many people go on vacation to sit in a lounge chair sipping an umbrella drink. Rick Fine goes to photography boot camp. After seeing his amazing photographs, we’re glad he made the trip.
All photographs are courtesy of Rick Fine and Rick Fine Photography.
For more of Rick’s photography, see another article on this site.