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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

NO PEBBLE MINE, Pictures from Ground Zero by Robert Glenn Ketchum

NO PEBBLE MINE Pictures from Ground Zero 
by Robert Glenn Ketchum

Thank you to the EPA for recognizing the value of the Bristol Bay fishery. 
NOW, what can we do to protect this habitat further? 
Mission: To protect the national parks and national refuges of southwest Alaska, 
and the Bristol Bay fishery from the development of the Pebble mine, and other commercial risks.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017 

NO PEBBLE MINE #232, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #232: It would appear that we are reaching the “end” of the valley, over which we have been flying. As the valley floor has increased in elevation, the drainages have become streams and small rivers, and even those are fewer and further between. Most of the expanse beneath the wing is tundra mesa. I do note that just ahead there seems to be one more deep cleft in the mountains, pretty much at the point we will roll to the left and start our flight back down the basin. As we draw closer to the gap, my pilot with whom I had flown many hours at this point, suggested I may want to be ready when we arrived and before he would make his turn. He said what lay ahead was “deceptive,” and those words set those hairs on the back of my neck off immediately. When I asked what he meant, he responded that the “pass” never appears to be large until you are in it. When I asked further about his use of the term “pass,” he said in a few days he would take me over into the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, and one of the ways to thread through these mountains and get there was to follow the valley that lay ahead. From my POV at the moment, I am wondering if this is one of those tricky Alaskan flying things that might takes us through some really narrow, and dangerously windy territory, AND surely there is another way to get to Togiak.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017 


NO PEBBLE MINE #231, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #231: In the last post, I stated that there was a large river beneath the deciduous forest that cloaked the valley. Perhaps you are thinking, “how large could it be if you can’t see it?” So, try this. A few valleys further along, a small side canyon slips under the wing, and the watercourse coming out of it is more visible, but how big is it? These foothills now rise above 8,000ft., and they are still holding snow from last year. They are also much steeper, and that yellow fall foliage is not brush, but large trees. That is big, fast water down there - in fact, quite a bit of whitewater. And then, it is gone! Such a “small” narrow valley passes by quickly. Ahead I can see the landscape beneath us is rising, and the water coming from the immediate foothill slopes is a series of ever smaller streams, but I incorrectly surmised this means the end of this valley where we will then turn back toward the lake section. The hair on the back of my neck is about to stand up again!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017 


NO PEBBLE MINE #230, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #230:“Expansive" is a relative word in Alaska, it depends on where you physically are. In the last post I described the shot of the valley as expansive, which it was compared to those shown here. The broadened plain of wetlands is now gone as valleys steepen and plunge into the more vertical, deep backcountry - BUT do not be fooled. Were you actually down on the ground in this valley, you would find it an expansive AND dense deciduous forest with a large river. You would also want to have a GPS / compass and be armed. There are few other places I have been in my life that seeth with so much wildness, and often we would come upon vistas like this while flying and quite literally looking at them would raise the hair on the back of my neck. How is that for some kind of deep, human, primal instinct?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017 


NO PEBBLE MINE #229, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #229:In front of us the valley is beginning to narrow and the “hills” are growing in height with every mile that passes. Looking back in the above image you can really take in the “whole” of this amazing habitat and the fishery it supports - lakes, ponds, wetlands, streams, and rivers, all UNTOUCHED AND SYMBIOTICALLY INTERWOVEN. This expansive landscape will now quickly give way to greater summits and lesser valleys, the effect of which will be to concentrate waters into some surprisingly large rivers coming from “valleys-in-the-clouds.” Eventually our travels will take us up through these high valleys and OVER the Wood Mountain Range into Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, but for the moment we are exploring the rich biology below us that has poured down from the summits and forms this significant part of the Bristol Bay watershed.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017 


NO PEBBLE MINE #228, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #228: Beyond the lake, the river valleys meander into the Wood River mountains. Initially, the river valleys remain fairly broad as the wind around summits that are foothills to the taller peaks in the range. Not all, but some of these rivers in this backcountry can be accessed because they are wide and deep enough to land a float plane. Should you find yourself here, it is about as remote and wild a fishing experience as you will EVER have. The likelihood of your group encountering anybody else is ZERO! As this flight-see continues we will approach ever-steepening parts of the range with our next posts, BUT in a few weeks I will bring you back to these valleys in the winter. With the lakes and rivers frozen over, I took an unusual “scouting” flight in the smallest plane I have ever been in, and I spent an entire day solo in a snowmobile wandering parts of the backcountry. Stay tuned! This landscape looks different with 20+ feet of snow.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017 


NO PEBBLE MINE #227, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #227:Boy! That little sandy spit looks like a great place to camp for awhile. There is no stinking 18ft tide to worry about either - LOL! We have come to the end of one of the lake arms and we will now follow the valley and river (middle, upper half of pic) back into the range to explore a complex of rivers and lush elevated valleys and plateaus thriving at the foot of some very rugged peaks that still hold remnant glaciers and attract DEEP winter snows. As it is fall, the final fish runs have come in and bear, moose, wolves, caribou and many others are preparing for winter and are quite visibly out and about. Hunting is allowed in this park, but it tends to concentrate around the lakes that have cabins and a few select basins. Taking an animal is one thing, but getting it out may be a much more complicated deal if you are too far from your support base. This is big, WILD country!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017 


NO PEBBLE MINE #226, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #226: If you look at the map (post #213), you will see how convoluted the shoreline of Chikuminuk Lake is. Rivers enter the lake from many directions, and their valleys open up to spectacular backcountry. These peninsulas and islands you see in shadow here, are tundra and rock pocketed withe many small lakes. They will be more visible when our flight returns. For the moment, however, we will cross the lake and head up one of the valleys into the heart of the range. On virtually every flight I made during this project, there was some kind of weather blowing through and as we enter these valleys surrounded by greater summits, VERY DRAMATIC lighting and color occur because of sun spotlights and rain saturated colors in the fall leaves and tundra. I do not joke when I say this kind of color only last 10 days IF YOU ARE LUCKY! You can literally see it changing from one day to another.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017 


NO PEBBLE MINE #225, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #225: Although the Allen River may appear quite large as it enters Lake Chauekuktuli, at its outlet it is a very different story. This is the Allen as it exits Chikuminuk Lake. Much smaller and more narrow, it has cut a whitewater channel through the tundra bluffs. It will pick up an astounding amount of water as it moves downstream, and grow quite large over very little distance. Above this outlet we will view Chikuminuk and enter the most interesting landscape of all the lakes. Chikuminuk’s shoreline is VERY convoluted with many peninsulas and small islands. It is also a large lake and set against some very dramatic backcountry summits. Had I the time and resources when I was in Southwest, I would gladly have been dropped at this lake with a kayak to go shore-camping around it. The potential campsites and related views seem endless and you might even be able to walk around a bit. You’ll see.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016 


NO PEBBLE MINE #224, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #224: THIS is the Allen river at it flows into Lake Chauekuktuli, This is not a small meandering stream. It is a big river with a big flow, bringing water from the basin and next lake above in the chain, Chikuminuk. In this view, Chikuminuk is above and behind us and we are looking south and east across Chauekuktuli. You can just see the shimmer of Nuyakuk Lake in the distance, and you can really see how the landscape flattens out into the tundra plains after leaving the mountainous part of the park. This image has resonated especially well with the NO PEBBLE MINE coalition, and a group of representatives from the First Nation villages of Southwest gave former Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar one of my prints of this image to decorate his office during his tenure and remind him of the importance of protecting all of these parks and the Bristol Bay fishery.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016 


NO PEBBLE MINE #223, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #223: This section of lakes is among my most favorite destinations in Wood-Tikchik State Park. Nuyakuk Lake (last week’s post) is large, especially long and deep, but it has a sizable neighbor to the north, Lake Chauekuktuli. Like Nuyakuk, Chauekuktuli is long and narrow, cutting back into the heart of some very tall peaks of the Wood Mountains. As a consequence, it is fed by numerous glaciers and small rivers. The peninsula of land that divides these two lakes features two lesser summits and an area I showed you in previous post #212, the Red Hills. These lakes are in those foothills and are too small to have names - they are really more like tundra ponds. However, what you see here in small scale mimics the look of the larger lakes as we will see next week. Note how these two bodies of water are connected by the small meandering stream. Next week we will see where the Allen river enters Lake Chauekuktuli. It has a similar appearance to this, the difference is scale, LOTS of scale.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016 
NO PEBBLE MINE #222, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #222: On our next flight over Wood-Tikchik State Park, we have departed the Tikchik Narrows Lodge and are heading north and east toward the big lakes in the northern-most part of the park. To our right, the tundra plain fans out dotted with big rolling hills set apart from one-another across the flattening landscape. To the left, the Wood Mountains begin their precipitous rise above the shoreline of Nuyakuk lake. This view is of one of the inlets I thought would make for a great kayak camp. In this rugged, brushy, and bear-filled terrain, locations that give you access to climbable, BARE rock are blessing if you expect to get anywhere, OR just put on your hip boots, take out your rifle, and walk right up the streams. However you do it, it is slow going and this is big country, thus the beauty of air travel. Sit back and enjoy this! Coming up, can you say “Chauekuktuli”?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #221, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #221: Most of the images I have posted so far of Wood-Tikchik State Park have been of areas east and south of my base at the Tikchik Narrows Lodge. Now flying to the north and looking east we are above numerous smaller lakes in a tundra and dense scrub-covered landscape, and the mountains are fewer, further between, more rounded and vegetated. This is BIG terrain with little reference for scale, so try the stand of large trees in their fall foliage in the middle-left of this image. In the opposite direction, to the west, it is an entirely different view as you will see next week. Under our other wing are the last of the big lakes and they nestle at the base of mountains, whose valleys and canyons open into some very dramatic backcountry we will explore.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #220, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #220, Pictures from Ground Zero: The anglers have arisen at Tikchik Narrows Lodge, but no one is going anywhere just yet. Those same diurnal fogs that occur over the saturated tundra, which I showed you in post #184, also occur over the lakes. When I first awoke, there was NO visibility whatsoever. Now the landscape is slowly beginning to emerge, and with a leisurely breakfast to occupy our time, all of this will be burned off fairly soon. The planes will go out, and we might well have a sunny, warm day. The next flight loop we will take from the lodge will carry us over the big lakes not yet visited and up to the edge of the backcountry leading into the Wood River Mountains. This is some of the most spectacular landscape I have EVER flown over, so I hope you will continue to follow this blog. I also hope you will continue to say NO TO THE PEBBLE MINE - given our recent election, PLEASE WRITE PRESIDENT OBAMA NOW AND ASK HIM TO PROTECT SOUTHWEST ALASKA AND BRISTOL BAY PERMANENTLY FROM MINING AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT before he leaves office.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #219, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #219, Pictures from Ground Zero: I am going to explore the other big lakes, but for the moment have circled back toward Tikchik Narrows Lodge that I am using as my base. In post #204, I showed you this group of distinctly shaped, stone-faced summits and promised you would see them again in a different light, or in this case, almost no light. Not every day of flying is perfect flight-seeing, and this is one of those. We are being chased “home” by blinding rain and a lowering ceiling. Visibility will be zero soon. My pilot has been flying for the lodge for years and is not concerned. We have followed a river to a low valley at the end of which these domes loomed, sentinel-like. And they were indeed sentinels as they mark the western shore of Tikchik Lake. Now, whether we can see it or not, we just turn left at the first dome, fly past the faces of the others in the line, and the lodge will appear quite soon out the window on our right. I once had a pilot who was flying me in a terrible storm with almost no visibility, tell me not to worry because he had IFR. When I asked what that was, he said, “I follow rivers."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #218, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #218, Pictures from Ground Zero: The bears and the cold water may have prevented my approach of this canyon on foot, but to see it helps to understand the ruggedness of the Wood River Mountains so this is an aerial of that terrain. As I said in the last post, the canyon is narrow, surrounded by steep walls and crowned with glaciers, two of which you see here. The meltwater from them creates the pale blue colors you saw in the last post. These summits in many cases have experienced glaciation on all sides, leaving them with ragged spires and knife-thin ridgelines like this one below the wing. Note also how deep the canyon has been carved and consider that when this glacier reached the plane of Nuyakuk Lake, it gouged out another 900ft. of depth. At some point in geologic time, there was A LOT OF ICE covering everything you and I now see.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #217, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #217, Pictures from Ground Zero: In the last post you are looking at a portion of Mirror Bay at the far western end of Nuyakuk Lake in Wood-Tikchik State Park. This is another portion of it. Pure glacial meltwater (pale blue) pours into the lake from the summits above. The canyon this river comes out of is narrow and spectacular, terminating in steep walls crowned with glaciers that stream waterfalls down on to the rocks below. I have approached this beach and walked on the sandbar. For a time, there was actually some consideration of trying to “walk the river” and go back into the canyon. Three things discouraged that from happening: the water is stunningly cold; there are too many deep holes to get around; AND a mother grizzly with two cubs showed up on the beach where the river doglegs (center, right) just as we approached. Collectively those seemed to be signs to get back in the boat and consider some other adventure.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #216, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #216, Pictures from Ground Zero:  Nuyakuk Lake is the largest of the Wood-Tikchik lakes in both breadth and a length of over 40 miles. It is one of the deepest lakes in all of Alaska as well. At the western end of the lake it narrows between steep summits and divides into Mirror Bay and Portage Arm. I have flown over, boated in, and come on snowmobile during winter to this part of the park, and besides the possibility of a Loch Ness-type creature living in the lake, when I am at this end of Nuyakuk, I have always had a sense of the primeval, as though I had found a "lost" world. This is Mirror Bay glowing under breaking sunlight. Those are nice beaches in the upper right, but you would want to be armed. For some reason, I think a photographic POV, I actually scaled the brush cliff face to reach the small lake (lower, right). I would NOT recommend that as a good idea. Once you are off the beach here, it is serious thrash. Best to keep your boots on and walk the shallows of the rivers if you expect to go anywhere.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #215, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #215, Pictures from Ground Zero:  A slightly more overhead perspective offers another dramatic viewpoint when you are flying over the big lakes in Wood-Tikchik Sate Park. As I have noted, these lakes are glacially carved and deep, like a coastal fjord. They are also STUNNINGLY CLEAR! With no glare on the water, you can see into the depths. This is Nuyakuk, over 60 miles in length, and measured at more than 940ft deep. In fact, in places, the sonar echo mapping the bottom did NOT rebound - bottomless? There are locals who believe there is a creature in this lake that when described, sounds very much like the Loch Ness Monster. I thought about this many times when I was in a small boat on these waters AND I had a very strange vibe about what lay beneath the frozen lake surface when I was crossing it on a snow machine one winter. If you have been reading this blog, you know I reference the scale of things all the time, so let's try one here: go to the middle of the curve on the perfect crescent beach. From that point, draw a line to the upper, right corner of this image. As your imaginary line starts inland and passes through the trees, you can see a bright rectangle that stands out at the edge of the forest - that is a United States Forest Service cabin that sleeps 8, and is maintained for those who hunt and kayak in the park. Follow the shoreline around the crescent and the peninsula, moving toward the lower, right of the frame. In the middle of this long beach there is a large clump of green bushes, followed (moving right) by an arc in the sand that seems to have an orange dot in the middle of it - that dot is a decently sized boat that carried 4hunters and all their gear into the cabin. If you are wondering what a walk on this beach is like, it IS fantastic, but best to do it armed as both moose and bear also enjoy the stroll.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #214, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #214, Pictures from Ground Zero:  The glaciation that created the "large lake" section of Wood-Tikchik State Park, also established another dynamic. As you perhaps noticed in previous posts #198 & #199, the eastern end of the lakes face out into hills and a flatter landscape, making the lakes often a mirror of the sky which is constantly churning with weather from Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea. In a westerly direction, the lakes mirror the rising Wood River Mountains and you begin to sense the fact that these ARE alpine fjords, with the rugged mountains now part of the reflective surface. The beauty of seeing all of this from the air is that you sometimes get it all of at once, as is happening here. Some of these lakes reach 60-miles in length, and flying by them watching the spectacle of forms shimmer and float by under the wing, everyone I ever flew with fell silent and just stared in awe, with an occasional, "Oh my God!"
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #213, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #213 Pictures from Ground Zero:  The foothills featured in the last few posts are the lower flanks of a significant range of mountains whose summits face directly into the terrible winter weather of the Bering Sea. In geologic history this range accumulated massive amounts of snow, generating numerous glaciers. Those glaciers descended from the summits into the lowlands and foothills that my previous posts featured. A succession of one glacier after another flowed down the east side of the range, cutting deeply into the landscape and carving a series of long relatively parallel tracks across the "flats." When the ice retreated, meltwater and rainfall filled the deep cuts and created the lake chain that is the heart of Wood-Tikchik State Park. This map makes all that very clear. The Wood Mountains are to the left, the "ladder" of lakes were formally glaciers. I have always loved words, and some of the words/names that arise from Southwest AK culture are just amazing - check some of these lake names. Beginning at the bottom and rising, just outside the boundaries of the park are Nunavaugaluk and Aleknagik, then, two arms of Lake Nerka, followed by Beverly, Kulik, Nuyakuk-Tikchik, Chauekuktuli, Chikuminuk, Upnuk, Slate, and Nishlik. YEOW!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #212, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #212 Pictures from Ground Zero:  Another section of Wood-Tikchik State Park that is very unique is a group of hills and valleys similar to the previous 2 posts, except these hills and valleys have little shrubbery and are mostly covered by patches of tundra. These are the Red Hills. Because they are exposed, and host little mounds of rock amidst the tundra, these rock "islands" offer "territory" and a clear line-of-site in all directions for male moose that are trying to mate. As fall and the rutting season arrive, moose migrate here from all over the park to stake out a mound, snorting, stomping, and shaking their racks in threatening ways to claim "their" territory. On one of my many flights over this part of the park, it was season-of-the-moose, and they were everywhere. My pilot commented these were all "young and angry" and ready to take on anything threatening their territory. With that he took the plane VERY low and came up on a moose knoll with a resident. I have NEVER seen an animal that does not flee from a low flying aircraft, but this moose stood its ground, shook its head, and POPPED UP ON HIS HIND FEET as we flew over, CHALLENGING the plane, not fleeing.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #211, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #211 Pictures from Ground Zero:  Such dense vegetation may be tough to travel through, but it is an incredible water trap. Look how this valley and foothills are literally swallowed by growth. There are dozens of rivers and streams here and you can hardly see one of them. Careful study, however, reveals the magic of this fish-rich watershed. Not only does the "bush" trap water from passing weather, it filters it, and channels it downward into innumerable small drainages - I count at least 22 here. In turn, their waters merge in the valley to form a stream that will soon connect again further down, creating a river. Water, water, everywhere! Unpolluted and teeming with life. More living things are sustained on land as well, BUT if you disrupt THE HABITAT which clearly includes clean air and water quality, you change everything over time and it will all go away. SAY NO TO THE PEBBLE MINE!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #210, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #210 Pictures from Ground Zero:   On this morning's news I heard that 10% of ALL the wilderness in the world had been lost since 1990. This is NOT good news for the health of the planetary ecosystem. Alaskans often complain about federal control and too much DESIGNATED wilderness, but history seems to show a human willingness to disrupt and eliminate wilderness if is NOT intentionally protected. I personally think Alaskans are lucky to have so much. I am also proud that my work has helped to create wilderness:  my TONGASS BLOG; my TATSHENSHINI BLOG; celebrate it:  my TRACY ARM BLOG; and defend it:  my NO PEBBLE BLOG. Part of the wonder of Wood-Tikchik State Park for me is the "wilderness" of it. I can SEE it. Without being any particularly notable place or summit, this entire landscape seethes with wildness thriving in wilderness. American naturalist, hiker, and author, Edward Abbey once said that you do not know wilderness until you enter the food chain. Well, welcome to Alaska! This may look beautiful but I assure you it is rugged thrash and you would be crazy not be armed.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #209, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #209 Pictures from Ground Zero:   I am NOT making this stuff up! Welcome to PEAK fall in Wood-Tikchik State Park. Flying in the foothills of the park during the VERY brief (10 days) fall season, is one of the most dazzling landscapes I have ever viewed. As the season brings on-and-off rain on nearly a daily basis, the saturated landscape sparkles and glows in the spots of sunlight between the clouds. This is JUST some swampy, anonymous valley (LOL). As you will see in the posts to come, when we move into the higher elevations around the big lakes, this spectacle becomes even more ridiculous. Does terrain like this look like a good place to put the largest open-pit mine to ever be constructed? WHAT? Just so NO!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #208, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #208, Pictures from Ground Zero:   Wood-Tikchik State Park takes a LOT of weather coming in off the Bering Sea and Bristol Bay. Many days flying around the park look like this, but although gray and stormy, when I look down on this landscape, I see extraordinary lushness - a world THRIVING in water, indeed, fed by the water. Lakes, rivers, streams, fish, bear, wolves, caribou, and all the others, thriving in one of the last and least undisturbed ecosystems of this scale in North America. Why would Americans allow an international corporation and international investors to, quite literally, POISON this place? Last week, in a HUGE moment for the NO PEBBLE MINE campaign, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) approved of this motion which will hopefully provide the final impetus for the EPA and President Obama to protect the valuable RENEWABLE resources of southwest Alaska and Bristol Bay. Please write to the president and ask him to say NO TO THE PEBBLE MINE and to recognize this entire area as one of the greatest biological reserves ON THE PLANET!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #207, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #207, Pictures from Ground Zero:   This section of Wood-Tikchik Sate Park has mountains but they do not rise as steeply or as high as those in the heart of the range. There are forests here as well, but the tundra-spruce environment gives way to significant stands of deciduous trees around the rivers where water is plentiful. These seasonal trees not only provide fall color, but moose browse them all year round, and in the summer they are cover from heat and hunters for both moose and bear. The rising terrain channels water down virtually EVERY valley, coalescing in the lake system. In this image you can see two rivers coming in from the top of the frame and then joining to form the larger one in the foreground. Those are some REALLY dense stands of cottonwood, surrounded by swampy tundra. Once again, tough territory to cover on foot.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #206, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #206, Pictures from Ground Zero:   In this part of the park the lakes and meandering streams coalesce into a spectacular falls that is basically a headwater of the Nushagak river. These falls are one of the spectacular fishing destinations accessed by Tikchik Narrows Lodge and its guests. Salmon migrations coming out of Bristol Bay reach the upper lakes in the park through the Nushagak and its supporting streams and rivers. This is also some of the most whitewater you will see on any of the larger rivers in Southwest, as most flow broad and flat, with occasional rocks but seldom having a dramatic sections such as this. Now we will turn west, visiting some of the large lower lakes and valleys before we circle back to the lodge.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #205, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #205, Pictures from Ground Zero: Because it is less mountainous, the rolling hills and valleys at the lower end of the Wood-Tikchik State Park harbor a number of rivers significant to the Bristol Bay fishery. Largest among these are the Agulupak and the Agulowak and if you bother to read this link, I am happy to say that my books were a catalyst in bringing these many funders together and some of them are still "partners" (Orvis, Tiffany & Co.) of mine in the ongoing NO PEBBLE MINE campaign. Those two rivers, however, share this fish-rich landscape with dozens of "lesser" river systems, and here you see a beautiful "creek" meandering aimlessly across a valley bottom. In Alaska, floating and fishing an environment like this provides an unparalleled wilderness experience, unlike any other I have ever had.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #204, Pictures from Ground Zero: NO PEBBLE MINE #204, Pictures from Ground Zero: At the far end of the lake, flying east from Tikchik Narrows Lodge, you pass several rolling summits that have a sheer rock face on one side. These faces are a signature in the landscape and we will fly over and around them in a number of weather conditions trying to navigate guest commutes and my flight-shooting back and forth between the lodge and fishing locations at the lower end of the park. I will also visit the lodge and the park in winter, and thanks to Bud Hodson, who owns and operates the lodge, I had access to a snowmobile, and a winter pilot. One day on the snowmobile I summited the hill/face to the right by approaching from the more gently sloping backside. If this image seems familiar, you may have previously seen it on the cover of my second book about southwest Alaska and Bristol Bay, "Wood-Tikchik: Alaska's Largest State Park".
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #203, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #203, Pictures from Ground Zero: When guests come to Tikchik Narrows Lodge, they fly from Anchorage to Dillingham, a small city at the edge of Bristol Bay that is home to about 3,000 people. Guests will be picked up in Dillingham by the fleet of planes owned by Tikchik Lodge and flown into the park and the narrows. Each day 3 guests and a guide will be assigned a pilot and a destination to which they will fly and fish all day, the planes returning for them in the late afternoon. Each day presents a new destination, and in fact, some greatly varied terrain. Nearest the lodge the mountains are more like burly hills and prominent landscape is tundra, forests, lakes, and streams, ALL of which you can see here. Those trails in the tundra are from bear, moose, caribou, and wolves. There is NO PEBBLE MINE and we should keep it that way.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #202, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #202, Pictures from Ground Zero: The transition of the light from the top to the mountain to the shore of Tikchik Narrows took less than a minute. During that time the only sounds that could be heard were water noises and the click of my shutter. While it may be true that the sunset and sunrise are a cliche' subject matter in the world of art and photography, there is NOTHING cliche' about ACTUALLY witnessing a great one. For me they have always been breathtaking, uplifting, and inspirational, something I would like to see a little bit more of in art and photography. Enough with morning prayers! Breakfast is on and we are going flying with guests as they get dropped off at various select fishing locations. What you have seen of Wood-Tikchik State Park so far is really just the beginning. Please buckle your seat belt (especially because I am going to take the door off)!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016 

NO PEBBLE MINE #201, Pictures from Ground Zero:  NO PEBBLE MINE #201, Pictures from Ground Zero: Even with the predawn glow of the sky, there were so many clouds this particular morning that neither the early-rising anglers nor I thought there was going to be much of a sunrise. In fact, we were all wearing rain gear. Then, rather simultaneously, the fog on the water began to clear and a cloud began to form around the peak directly across from us on the opposite shore. There was a universal "OMG" from all as the very low angle of the sun shot UNDER the cloud cover and began a slow, glowing illumination of the summit. Over a very few minutes, the rising sun lighted a descending line that crept down the mountain and "blew up" when it reached to other shore. For me it was like watching the layers of a Renaissance painting unfold. Except for the splash of passing fish, there was dead silence.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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