Monday, February 11, 2013

Fleeting spots of alpenglow pastels brighten the valley

I can never be tired of alpenglow. Alpenglow is especially rewarding during the winter months in my very snowy home of Girdwood. In the winter, Girdwood can receive around 600 inches of snow (mostly on the mountains, about 200 inches at the base). With so much snow covering everything, the environment tends to be black and white, or dark green and white, or maybe a little blue shows up in the sky with white and dark green. When the temperatures are above freezing, all that snow turns to slush or is mixed with road gravel to turn grey. In other words, when the ground is covered in snow, there is not much color from vegetation to decorate the landscape. Skis, snowboards, and puffy jackets are good accents however. In evenings or mornings when Glacier Valley is free of clouds or fog, alpenglow shines to bring a burst of color to the day. The warm pink, fading red, even salmon shades are invigorating to my eyes. Above is looking up glacier valley toward Eagle and Raven glaciers.

Alpenglow is derived from a German term, obvious to some of us. Alpen from alps, or mountains as Americans know them; and gl├╝hen which translates to glow. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Contrary to what our brains what to believe, the sun is not shining directly on the mountains to create the pink wash. The sun is near or below the horizon and the light scattering in the atmosphere reflects onto the snow covered mountains. (Wikipedia) Above is a view toward Raggedtop Mountain.

This is Max's Mountain at the Alyeska ski resort standing watch over the Girdwood Fire and Rescue building. Being surrounded by the Chugach Mountains in Girdwood gives me great opportunities to enjoy alpenglow, both in the evening and in the morning. The pastel colors are quite pleasing to my eye, pink and blue just play off each other so well. Nature always seems to mix colors in complementary patterns. 

Looking up Glacier Creek the setting sun highlighted the snow covering the gravel bars.

What was giving Girdwood the warm glow this evening? Here is the lovely sunset I saw while walking down the path toward "downtown" Girdwood. This evening there was a soft glow over the sun created by moisture in the air over Turnagain arm. 

The sun setting behind the Kenai Mountains across the Turnagain Arm from Glacier Valley.

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