May 2021 – Packrafts and Spring Melt

The heavy snowfall this past winter means snow is still on the ground in many places, but the spring thaw is definitely underway. At lower altitudes, the lakes are starting to crack open and I had fun at Kathleen lake watching the breaking ice shift in the wind while I waited for it to drift into the perfect composition.

Spring melt at Kathleen Lake in Kluane National Park.

Further up the road into the Haines Pass, it was very much still winter, with several feet of snow on the ground. In the space of just 45 minutes, I encountered 8 moose right on the highway as they tried to avoid the depth of the soft spring snow that was clearly making movement difficult for them. Patience was needed as they were not keen to get off the highway and let me through. They were stressed enough with the situation, so I didn’t get out to photograph them, but I did stop for a few shots of the willow ptarmigans that can be found everywhere at this time of year!

Willow ptarmigans are changing colour at this time of year as the snow melts.

At the end of the month, once low-level ponds and lakes were free from ice, I decided to rent a packraft. For those that don’t know, a packraft is a small raft that can be packed down into a backpack. Some of them are small enough to fit into a 20-25L pack, and I thought it might be an interesting low-level photographic platform. Perhaps something I could keep in the trunk of my car all the time just in case I come across something interesting on my travels.

To test it out, I grabbed a rental raft from a local paddling store in Whitehorse, and walked myself into a local pond that I know has an abundance of ducks in the springtime. This is not an area I would normally be able to access with my kayak, so it was a good test to see if a packraft could augment my kayak and let me float about in some new areas. It was good fun and a fairly successful test from a photographic point of view. Hopefully, I can add my own raft to my gear closet sometime in the future.

The small raft gives a good low-angle view through the lens.
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Dan Carr

Founder of Shutter Muse, full time photographer and creative educator. Dan lives in the Canadian Yukon, but his wanderlust often sends him in search of images all around the world to meet the needs of clients and readers alike.

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