Untitled Document

Alaska: Rising Northern Star

by Joseph Judge
Photographed by Bruce Dale

38 pages

National Geographic
June 1975

Johnny Frank, a former Athapaskan chief, was photographed heading home from cutting firewood at 40 degrees below zero.No chain saw for him, just a good sharp ax and good health at 95 years old.

 

I spent the night in Johnny Frank's cabin curled up on the floor next to a converted oil drum furnace. Temperatures fell to minus 58 when I shot the photo of the Northern Lights on left. The cold caused the film to become brittle and snapped in my camera.

During the evening, Johnny told us about the good times and the bad times across Alaska's northeast. He recalled how bullets were so scarce that he once shot two dozen rabbits using the same slug over and over.

 
It had already begun to warm up when I shot this photo on left.  

Anyone who appreciates the soft light of dawn and dusk will love working in the Yukon during the winter when the sun hovers along the horizon, like this, during most of the day.

Taken in Nulato on the Yukon River where survival is a full time job.

 
Photographed while picking our way through a mountain range with an Alaskan bush pilot.  
Author, Joseph Judge, verifies our location on the frozen North Slope.  
Alaska Tongass National Forest near Ketchikan.  
Lakes in the Tongass have scattered cabins where one can be dropped off. We spent a memorable several days at this one.  
Walrus off the coast of Alaska.  
Hitch-hiking -- the leisure way.  
Wildflower.  
Cook inlet near Anchorage.