Erin, Hig and Katmai have just concluded their summer expeditions. There were several of them, but the three most important were to the sites of the proposed Chuitna River mega coal mines west of Anchorage, the Healy area mines northeast of Denali National Park and to the northwest Alaska coast, from Point Lisburne to Kotzebue. All of it, coal country.
From the first moment I looked at their blog in November 2007, on a tip from my friend Steve Johnson, I've thought "these two are going where nobody has ever gone before." It wasn't just the audacious non-motorized journey, mostly on foot, from Seattle to Unimak. It was the whole package - the trek, the packrafts, the blog (wherever they could find wifi or internet), the videos, the photographs and the meetings in small communities along the way, where they discussed their vision of a more informed long-term energy awareness.
Since then, they've completed the book about the trip, had their first child, done a book tour and expanded their goals. And they're getting ready now for another child.
Erin's photography is quite good. It may rank among the finest of nature photography in our state's history. It is impeded by the reality that it is just part of the package. Great nature and landscape photographers in Alaska have usually been mostly photographic artists, with the taking of their pictures being their primary goal on their trips. In the past, the main exception to that rule was probably Bradford Washburn.
Erin's photography is getting better. The few photos presented on the blog and the fewer in the book and slide shows are a mere sliver of what she's been able to get, from what she told me in 2008.
I hope she has time to plan a gallery show of her art.
At the top of this post is the Noatak River. Below are two young girls, unfurling Katmai's wrap in the breeze at the school in Kivalina.
Below is Katmai, going through stuff being prepared for the northwest coast trek.
Below is a misty dawn, along the Noatak.
all images by Erin McKittrick