Colors of Fall - AlpenScapes Photography

I grew up in New Hampshire, which meant that autumn consisted of making giant leaf piles, jumping into them off the porch, and then throwing the scattered leaves at my sister. And apple cider donuts. But that’s beside the point. I have a deeply rooted love for autumnal color and, while it may not be as intense in some of the places I’ve lived over the past decade as it was growing up, I still look forward to that time of year. The sound of the wind in the trees, the smell of decaying leaves on a forested trail, brightly colored salmon racing against time to find their mate and pass on their legacy. I decided to do a little photo essay of what I love about Fall in Alaska. So here’s some eye candy for you:

The golden leaves of the cottonwood tree shine in the morning light at Childs Glacier, on the Copper River near Cordova.  September 3.

The golden leaves of the cottonwood tree shine in the morning light at Childs Glacier, on the Copper River near Cordova. September 3.

One of the most beautiful aspects of fall in Alaska is the return of the night sky. Here, star trails and the aurora light up the sky above Sheridan Glacier, near Cordova. September 1

One of the most beautiful aspects of fall in Alaska is the return of the night sky. Here, star trails and the aurora light up the sky above Sheridan Glacier, near Cordova. September 1

Fresh snow coats the high country above Martin Lake, on the east side of the Copper River, near Cordova.  September 23.

Fresh snow coats the high country above Martin Lake, on the east side of the Copper River, near Cordova. September 23.

The first rays of an autumn day light up a frosty muskeg above Cordova.  October 7.

The first rays of an autumn day light up a frosty muskeg above Cordova. October 7.

Upon returning to their home rivers and lakes after several years in the ocean, salmon race against time to find a mate and spawn.  Their bodies then decay and return to the earth, providing essential nutrients to the forests.  This male sockeye likely traveled hundreds, if not thousands of miles over the course of its short life, to return to Eyak Lake, in Cordova.  October 7.

Upon returning to their home rivers and lakes after several years in the ocean, salmon race against time to find a mate and spawn. Their bodies then decay and return to the earth, providing essential nutrients to the forests. This male sockeye likely traveled hundreds, if not thousands of miles over the course of its short life, to return to Eyak Lake, in Cordova. October 7.

Evening alpenglow colors the freshly coated summit of Mt. Heney, in Cordova.  October 7.

Evening alpenglow colors the freshly coated summit of Mt. Heney, in Cordova. October 7.

Deprived of sunrises and sunsets for a few months, Alaskans look forward to color everywhere in the autumnal months.  Here the last light of day casts brilliant alpenglow on Queen’s Chair, in Cordova.  October 7.

Deprived of sunrises and sunsets for a few months, Alaskans look forward to color everywhere in the autumnal months. Here the last light of day casts brilliant alpenglow on Queen’s Chair, in Cordova. October 7.

Who doesn’t love the smells and sounds of a fall hike?  Jillian and I took advantage of a beautiful day to hike the Sand Trail and float down the Scott River.  We saw an injured Great Horned Owl on the trail, and I came within 10 yards of a couple of moose on the river!  Cordova, October 13.

Who doesn’t love the smells and sounds of a fall hike? Jillian and I took advantage of a beautiful day to hike the Sand Trail and float down the Scott River. We saw an injured Great Horned Owl on the trail, and I came within 10 yards of a couple of moose on the river! Cordova, October 13.

The golden hues of willow leaves contrast with the brilliant blue autumnal sky in Cordova.  October 13.

The golden hues of willow leaves contrast with the brilliant blue autumnal sky in Cordova. October 13.

The colorful leaves of the black currant (Ribes laxiflorum) are as close as I get to maple tree hues these days.  Cordova, October 13

The colorful leaves of the black currant (Ribes laxiflorum) are as close as I get to maple tree hues these days. Cordova, October 13

It’s a toss-up as to which natural phenomena I appreciate the return of more:  Sunsets, Alpenglow, or the Aurora.  But who says I have to choose?!  I got this photo one night on my way back in from aurora watching out the Copper River Delta, thinking “maybe I’ll just take a few photos and see what comes out.”  Eyak River Bridge, Cordova.  October 15.

It’s a toss-up as to which natural phenomena I appreciate the return of more: Sunsets, Alpenglow, or the Aurora. But who says I have to choose?! I got this photo one night on my way back in from aurora watching out the Copper River Delta, thinking “maybe I’ll just take a few photos and see what comes out.” Eyak River Bridge, Cordova. October 15.

If you like stars, go to Cordova.  You might have to wait a week or more, but it’ll be worth it.  Drive out the Copper River Highway, get out of the car with your warmest puffy jacket, crack a beer, and marvel at the enormity of our universe.  Cordova, October 17.

If you like stars, go to Cordova. You might have to wait a week or more, but it’ll be worth it. Drive out the Copper River Highway, get out of the car with your warmest puffy jacket, crack a beer, and marvel at the enormity of our universe. Cordova, October 17.

Golden cottonwoods light up the mountainside above the Copper River Delta, in Cordova.  October 18.

Golden cottonwoods light up the mountainside above the Copper River Delta, in Cordova. October 18.

Our most common understory forb fortunately also happens to be the most colorful.  Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) carpets the forest floor in rustic reds.  Cordova, October 18.

Our most common understory forb fortunately also happens to be the most colorful. Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) carpets the forest floor in rustic reds. Cordova, October 18.

There’s just something about symmetry that makes me happy.  Throw in some mountains and fall colors and I’m geeking out hardcore.  So this beaver pond on the Copper River Delta, particularly on a still fall morning such as this, always gets me.  When Cordova is good, it’s really really good.  October 23.

There’s just something about symmetry that makes me happy. Throw in some mountains and fall colors and I’m geeking out hardcore. So this beaver pond on the Copper River Delta, particularly on a still fall morning such as this, always gets me. When Cordova is good, it’s really really good. October 23.

Some aspects of fall linger long after the leaves have fallen and the ice begins to form on the lakes.  The mountains are coated with snow and the driveway begins to ice up.  But the highbush cranberries (Viburnum edule) hang on, waiting to be picked and made into barbecue sauce.  I had never seen such an abundance of highbush cranberries as on this hike in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, near Cooper Landing.  November 4

Some aspects of fall linger long after the leaves have fallen and the ice begins to form on the lakes. The mountains are coated with snow and the driveway begins to ice up. But the highbush cranberries (Viburnum edule) hang on, waiting to be picked and made into barbecue sauce. I had never seen such an abundance of highbush cranberries as on this hike in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, near Cooper Landing. November 4

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