Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 10

February 10th, 2011 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 9.”)

Part Ten: Layover at Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay National Monument

Fairweather Range From Elfin Cove, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, 1971 by Philip Hyde.

Sunday, July 4, 1971: Sure enough the sun was out when we arose, our first sunshine since the day we traveled from Ketchikan to Wrangle. See the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 4.” This side of the shore was shady and the dirt still cool, though the beach was in the sun. We ate breakfast at our beach kitchen with fire, shivering, but warmed up as we moved around and exercised. It was glorious to look across at Mt. Fairweather and see it all, with snow white summits left and right. We had a leisurely morning with Philip photographing in the Spruce Forest and around Black Pond. David and I puttered around the beach and the forest trail. We napped after lunch. All of us walked up the beach in the late afternoon. Lots of old beach lines were marked by dry blackened rockweed, caches of mussel shells and assorted flotsam. We found a perfect small crab skeleton for David’s “museum collection.” By then the sun was shining fully on our beach kitchen and we didn’t need to revive the fire. I cooked on the Svea stove.

We walked back along the nature trail to Glacier Bay Lodge for an 8:45 pm Park Ranger program of slides on Glacier Bay in general by Park Ranger Tim Setlicka. After the program we made reservations to go on a boat tour to Muir Inlet the next day. We talked with the Park Ranger again on our way back to camp. We then found new neighbors on both sides of us, with three parties total camped in our area. The newest neighbors were wetsuit divers and had already been in the water.

Landscape Photography Blogger Notes:

Why was Philip Hyde in Alaska? The Short Introduction

(More on the role of the photography of Philip Hyde in Alaskan conservation efforts in future blog posts.)

In his book, “Your Land and Mine: Evolution of a Conservationist,” Edgar Wayburn, president of the Sierra Club off and on in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, wrote of his experiences on his first travels in Alaska in 1967:

We soon found ourselves engrossed by conservation issues. Of most obvious concern was the damage caused by mining. About three miles northwest of Camp Denali, (just outside Denali National Park) hydraulic mining at Moose Creek had devastated the landscape. Huge areas of earth had been blasted away and piled high in waste mounds; rain had washed away the tailings onto land downstream. Mining had churned up so much soil that the river, once free running and clear, ran thick with brown mud… (Hydraulic mining) had been outlawed in California, but in Alaska it was allowed to continue full force. Even more pressing than the mines at Kantishna was the National Park Service plan to build a new hotel above Wonder Lake, just inside (Denali National Park’s) northern boundary. And at the eastern entrance to the park, the National Park Service was surveying sites to expand the existing hotel there…. At the time of Alaska’s statehood in 1959, fewer than a million of the state’s 375 million acres were in private hands…. Of the remaining lands, 290 million acres were considered unappropriated, falling under the administration of the Bureau of Land Management. The fate of the vast majority of Alaska had yet to be decided.

In 1967, there were 99 Sierra Club members in Alaska. The only other notable conservation organization in Alaska at the time was the Alaska Conservation Society. Edgar Wayburn and his wife Peggy Wayburn, who also held various leadership roles with the Sierra Club, began to rally people to the cause of wilderness conservation. They proposed an alternative site for the hotel that would not be destructive to the landscape, Mt. Denali views or wildlife ranges. Staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service arranged for Peggy and Edgar Wayburn to fly over the Kenai Moose Range, now the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge:

Oil had been discovered on the Kenai Peninsula a decade earlier, and we witnessed evidence of seismic research conducted by oil companies—large stretches of denuded land where the trees had been shaved so the companies could put in their seismic lines and test underground for oil reserves. Cook Inlet, which separates the Kenai Peninsula from the main bulk of Alaska, was dotted with oil rigs and derricks.

In Juneau, Alaska, the U.S. Forest Service had a different perspective. The U.S. Forest Service controlled all the land in Southeast Alaska, a coastal region of rain forests, fjords, islands and peaks as you have read about in previous blog posts in this series: see also, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 6.” Included in this domain, the Tongass National Forest, contained almost 17 million acres, the largest unit of the national forest system, and the Chugach National Forest consisted of over 5 million acres. The Forest Service was not intent on conserving forests, Forest Service leaders in Alaska, as often elsewhere, were committed to stimulating the economy, bringing in business and creating jobs through the pulping and milling of the old growth rain forests they managed. Edgar Wayburn began to research studies that had been done on potential wilderness areas. To his surprise, even after the Wilderness Act of 1964 mandated wilderness studies and they were ongoing throughout the lower forty-eight states, the Forest Service in Alaska had made no wilderness studies, even though they were sitting on by far the largest holdings of wilderness.

On their first trip to Alaska, Peggy and Edgar Wayburn’s last stop was Glacier Bay. Proclamation declared Glacier Bay a national monument in 1925, but its protections were limited and some of Glacier Bay’s most striking features were not included in the national monument. The many fronts of conservation battle in Alaska were developed and valiantly assailed with the help of Philip Hyde and other photographers. However, even with these efforts, Glacier Bay did not become a national park until 1980.

After Executive Director David Brower was forced into resigning from the Sierra Club, the Sierra Club no longer called their books the Exhibit Format Series. They adopted a new look to the books and a different size format. One of the first flagship books of the Sierra Club just after the Exhibit Format Series ended, was called “Alaska: The Great Land” by Mike Miller and Peggy Wayburn with a number of photographers including Philip Hyde as the primary illustrator. Sierra Club members and leaders used this book in the various campaigns to defend Alaska. In 1971, Philip Hyde’s summer photography trip with his family to Alaska, was an opportunity to make photographs of the areas sensitive to each environmental campaign. Philip Hyde also returned to Alaska the following summer in 1972 and also in 1973 and many years off and on afterward. Some of the photographs published in “Alaska: The Great Land” were made on the summer 1971 Denali National Park trip.

(More on the role of the photography of Philip Hyde in Alaskan conservation efforts in future blog posts.)

Continued in the next blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 11.”

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7 comments

  1. pj says:

    The more of these posts I read, the more impressed I become with the tireless work your dad did in defense of wild places. Good stuff David.

  2. Hi PJ, thank you. I’m glad to be reminded of your appreciation of Dad’s work. He never worried about getting recognition, but that is part of what I’m after on his behalf. A photographer like him who did so much before it became hip and trendy deserves respect. He stuck his neck out when people in Alaska would just as soon shoot an environmentalist as a Moose and I am not referring to making a photograph. I realize you know this, PJ, but a lot of people are unaware that many photographers and activists, not just my father, worked tirelessly to make sure Alaska didn’t become wall-to-wall oil derricks, hotels and mines. Developers are still trying to take over despite the general public in the lower 48 being more aware and against Alaskans destroying Alaska. As you also know, PJ, logging, mining and other abusive wasting of the environment creates far fewer jobs than cleaner industries such as tourism, eco-tourism, and photo tourism.

  3. Great read, David. That photo in the article is wonderful.

    Sharon

  4. Hi Sharon, I must say that you are a good, regular reader. I appreciate your patronage here as I know you are quite busy making and producing your own art.

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