I'm Holly Jo, I was the "Gold Girl" tour guide the last 3 years at Porcupine Creek in Haines, AK. Two years at John & Parker Schnabel's Big Nugget Gold Mine and one year at Dakota Fred's Porcupine Creek Gold Mine. Not sure what I will be doing this year as the Gold tours at Porcupine Creek are not offered any more...and I kinda got fired.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

"Guides Choice" in Haines Alaska with Photographer Tom Ganner

Port Chilkoot Dock Restrooms
and parking lot under construction
Here is a quick update on what Gold Rush Alaska is up to.  The film crews are following local high schooler, Parker Schnabel, around Haines High School today.  They had all the students sign wavier agreements so they could be put on National Television (if it doesn't get cut on the editing room floor first).  Parker Schnabel will be the Superintendent at Big Nugget Mine...
this summer (that is the mine next door to the Gold Rush Alaska mining operation).  Parker is the 16 yr old grandson of John Schnabel, who is retiring at age 91.  It is pretty unique for such a young man to run such a successful Gold Mine, and he is allowing Rainbow Glacier Adventures to bring tours out to his mine for some panning.  He has a big summer ahead of him.  I know he will do great!
On to Haines happenings....our new (and very controversial) $2 million dollar Cruise Ship Restrooms and Parking Lot is still under construction.  The crew is working like mad men to get it done because our first cruise ship to Haines will be here next Wednesday, May 25th.  I don't think they are going to make it, but, they have picked up the pace so it may be done before the season is over.  hahaha just kidding....mid season at the latest.
Traveling with Drake
The tours have started for 2011 in Haines just the same.  We collect our guests from Skagway and bring them over to Haines on the Fast Ferry (a 45 minute ride passing sea lions, eagles and whales on the Lynn Canal - not too shabby).  I get to be the person for Rainbow Glacier Adventures who goes over to Skagway to pick them up.
On Tuesday I got the privilege of flying over to Skagway with Drake, in what we endearingly call "a puddle jumper".  That is like going on a tour itself.  The views of Haines and the Lynn Canal are amazing from the air. It didn't hurt to have some very knowledgeable guides on board who could point out the flow and pattern of the Glaciers in the area.
When we returned to Haines I went on our "Guide's Choice" Photography Tour with Tom Ganner as the guide.
Rainbow Glacier Adventure Photographer Guide
Tom Ganner at Chilkat Inlet (low tide)

That is how I get to train to become a tour guide.  I go along with all the tours till I become as knowledgeable and funny as they are.  Poor me, eh?  My "hard job" is to hang around super cool people while seeing and learning about Haines Alaska.  It will be pretty hard to become as good as Tom though.  He has a great gift for guiding people.  Maybe he learned it from all his years as a Science Teacher in middle school.  His easy going style helps the guests relax and breathe in the beauty of Haines. He has an intimate knowledge of Haines since he has lived here over 10 years.
Tom with guests admiring our -4.2 low tide
in Chilkat Inlet
My shot after hearing Tom's thoughts on composition
Look at the low tide....very cool
Tom took us through Fort Seward, and then he drove us out to Chilkat Inlet, where I learned more about photography from him in ten minutes than my entire 3 years of High School Photography combined. He is an excellent photographer and teacher.  He has all the bells and whistles (tripods and lens) to lend the guests for optimal photo shooting.  Haines is a photographers paradise, it helps even an amateur photographer like me look good.  The guests kept saying how wonderful it was to get away from the busy crowds of the Cruise Ship and soak in the "real feeling" of Alaska, with all its wild wonder.

Haines Alaska from Picture Point
Next we drove to what the locals call "Picture Point", and took the most common picture to take in Haines Alaska.  I call it the "Post Card" shot, because you can find this picture on many Haines Alaska post cards.  After that Tom took us toward Chilkoot Lake, where we had "less common" photo opportunities.  This is the coolest part about the company I work for.  The guides are all local and they know all the locals, so we get rare opportunities that are not afforded to the "Average Joe".


Tom Ganner and Michael Stark
Tom introduced us to, Michael Stark, a local favorite. We were allowed to take photos from his property which proves to be an excellent advantage point of the Chilkoot River.  Michael is the Narrator for the Fast Ferry and a very personable guy.  I have lived here almost 3 years and have not had the opportunity to meet him before (but always wanted to).  I don't know if the guests knew what an honor it was to be "hanging out"  with such talented people as Tom & Michael, but I did.  After we left that great spot Tom confided that Michael was the actor who played Joe Bradley on the daytime drama Guiding Light.  Aahhh.... no wonder it seemed like we were meeting a celebrity.

Australian Tourist, Debbie, enjoying the
"Real Alaska" views

Tom also took us on the fish weir, which crosses over Chilkoot River, where the Salmon get counted during the summer runs.  I have never been on it before....it is always locked up, but good ole Tom took us right out in the middle.  Very cool - it is too bad the fish weren't running, I would love that.  That is when the fish weir is covered in bears though .... probably another reason why they lock it up.

Tom pointing out a Bald Eagle
on the Fish Weir at Chilkoot River




We ate lunch (included in the tour) from Chilkat Bakery on a bench overlooking the spectacular Chilkoot Lake.  It was an excellent day listening to Tom's great stories and learning to take superb pictures!  Tom even has a bit of "Bird Whisperer" in him as he got a Stellar Jay to pose for photos.
Stellar Jay posing nicely for Tom

After accompanying Tom Ganner on the tour, I am seriously considering upgrading my camera so I can learn to get the "money shots". You can see some of Tom's work on
Rainbow Glacier Adventure's Facebook Page
Check out the TOUR PICTURES Photo Album for some excellent wildlife shots; such as an eagle flying in front of a brown bear and her cub, and a brown bear and a raven.  It is easy to see why he has been contacted by National Geographic recently.  I'm gonna have to get his autograph now before he becomes known as the superstar photographer that he is.
Learn more about Tom Ganner at www.majorproduction.net
Learn more about Rainbow Glacier Adventures at www.tourhaines.com
Me on the Fish Weir - I was stoked!


Fish counting station on the Fish Weir at Chilkoot River
Fishermen & their dog on Chilkoot Lake
We were traveling in comfort on Rainbow Glacier's tour
Local Rock Artist, Jim's place along the Chilkoot Inlet
This is a cool stop.....Jim (the home owner) sets these rocks up in crazy formations and as cars pass the wind will sometimes knock them down.  So each day he goes out to his "Zen Garden" and places them in a new formation.  How about that?  All these years I thought they were secured together. I had not noticed that they changed daily.  Geez, I'm clueless at times.
As a side note for Gold Rush Fans.  Jim's daughter, who came out and visited while we checked out the rocks, works with the Gold Rush Alaska film crew.  She went to Film School herself.  
Jim's daughter came out to say "Hi" - Tom knows everyone.

Tom Ganner showing us how to "Zen Out" Haines Alaska style
Rock Artist Jim's Zen Garden
Chilkoot Inlets floating house

This little house will have water all the way under it when the tide is high.  It has no plumbing, but that doesn't stop travelers from staying there when they come to Haines looking for a cheap place to stay, with great views.

Best views of Chilkoot River Salmon runs are right here.
It is private property though so come on a tour with Rainbow Glacier Adventure
to hang out and watch bears this summer.  


4 comments:

  1. Ok Holly this is the longest blog ever but every bit of information is so interesting and the pictures are breathtaking. I'm itching to come up there soon. What a wonderful world you live in.

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  2. I agree - now that you are taking the tours that are being offered - we get to see the sights right along with you. - Thanks for taking us along. If we can't be there in person - this is the next best thing.

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  3. Hey Holly, you know i lived in the Float Shack last fall right? it actually floats on the 18ft+ tides last year on a 20+ the house moved about 6 inches down canal

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  4. I'm itching to come up there soon. What a wonderful world you live in.

    ReplyDelete