by Susan Sommer
Grand vistas, rotund grizzlies, auroras swirling overhead—these are the standard images of Alaska, and rightly so. There’s another aspect not often shown, though, and difficult to see with the naked eye, but every bit as beautiful, a miniscule universe in the flora and fauna hiding right beneath our feet. As a slow hiker forever trying to keep up with my friends, I’m often distracted by nature’s colors and patterns; I snap photos with my phone and then run to catch up. Back home that evening, I sift through my digital treasures and discover tiny new worlds, each like a pixel of the rugged landscape.
Copper minerals azurite (blue), malachite (green), and chalcocite (black) run through a chunk of rock used as decoration in a gate in McCarthy near the historic Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. (photography by Susan Sommer)
A ripe tundra blueberry waiting to be picked.
A mysterious jumble of moose hair beside the Kenai River Trail.
Melting ice on the shore of Eklutna Lake.
Sea anemones in Cook Inlet.
A gentian in Hatcher Pass about to bloom.
Whirlpool in a trickling stream. See underneath?
Old bear claw marks in the bark of a poplar tree along Eklutna Lake.
Bird nest in the crook of a devil’s club stalk.
Snow wrinkles as it melts and sags into a Hatcher Pass creek.
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