A young passerby’s gaze is captured by a massive carved Native totem in Sitka, Alaska’s National Historical Park. Bears, eagles, ravens and other creatures are carved on massive felled spruce trees, telling pictorial histories of clans, battles, and oral tradition in Tlingit and Tsimshian totems. Oh, if only this totem could speak to reveal more of its history!

This park is well worthwhile to visit for its Native Tlingit historical significance as well as the many superb totems standing in the forest. The easy footpaths can be traversed in a casual walk over an hour’s time or one can take hours to savor the quiet beauty of a rich rain forest watched over by magnificent totems.

One amusing note about my time spent in this park…bears prowled about Sitka’s environs during the summer of 2009, often in this park which caused path closures. Visitors were advised to be bear aware while strolling the pathways. Dressed in my usual expedition gear of black t-shirt and charcoal zip-off pants (perfect since they don’t show the dirt I collect while rambling and groveling in the wild) my bulky black backpack was also on my back. Off trail a few feet for a photo session with some rain forest vegetation, when I clambered back to the footpath with tripod and big backpack on my back, I nearly gave a cruise ship visitor a heart attack when I came out of the woods. She nearly fainted, thinking I was a big bear about to overtake her. We shared a good laugh about it. Often I wonder if she ever told that story upon returning home and whether I had indeed morphed into a real bear.

Sitka National Historical Park, Sitka, Alaska, USA

August 6, 2009

Canon 50D, Canon 10-22mm lens, Manfrotto tripod, Wimberly II head, cable release, visiting cruise passengers, shutter 1 second, f/18, ISO 400.

Americas~Rural, Urban, Wild, Free 1-26-10


forest, people, green, native, alaska, totem, timelapse, sitka, spruce, long exposure

It is my sincere wish that visitors to my portfolio experience the beauty and wonder of nature. Moreover my hope is that my photographs will inspire viewers to be proactive toward the protection of wildlife and its habitat, those efforts ultimately making a far better world for all beings.

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  • 1Nino
    1Ninoover 4 years ago

    If the Totem Pole could talk – what would it say? Great job here friend !!

  • Thank you so much. Hmmmm, if this totem could talk, would we even understand it? :-))

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Lisa Baumeler
    Lisa Baumelerover 4 years ago

    Fantastic Whalegeek! I may very well have passed this totem in my travels as I’ve been to Sitka. Love the movement!

  • Aren’t the totems in Sitka lovely in their sylvan setting? Sitka is one of my favorite places in Alaska; yours, too??? I appreciate you stopping by for a look, Lisa. Cheers, Gina

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Scott  d'Almeida
    Scott d'Almeidaover 4 years ago

    stunning image

  • Thank you, Scott.

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Bogdan Ciocsan
    Bogdan Ciocsanover 4 years ago

    nice long exposure mate, good job

    a BW version or a Sepia would be interesting to see too :)

  • Hmmm, I’ll have to give that a go, Bogdan. Sepia could indeed work well, considering the ancient vs modern world mood I wished to create. Thank you for the good suggestion.

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • ourjrny
    ourjrnyover 4 years ago

    Aloha Gina, I love your wonderful story :)))))) This is a lovely shot. I always wanted to see the beautiful Totems Sitka is famous for but unfortunately never had a chance.

  • Ah, Sharon, that state is so massive that it’s hard to take it all in during an entire lifetime. When we daydream of living in Alaska, Sitka is one of the places that comes to mind. If we move there, come on up and visit, okay?? :-))

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Betty Mackey
    Betty Mackeyover 4 years ago

    Thanks for a wonderful trip on the park trail!

  • Betty, thank you for your kind comment!

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Béla Török
    Béla Törökover 4 years ago

    Excellent work, Gina!

  • Thank you, Bela. Always very sweet of you to stop by!

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • ourjrny
    ourjrnyover 4 years ago

  • Sharon, thank you very much for this nice recognition of one of Sitka’s imposing and mysterious totems. I appreciate it very much!

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • Trish Meyer
    Trish Meyerover 4 years ago

    Beautiful Totem and great story :)
    Congrats on the feature!

  • Thank you, Trish for your welcome words. All the best to you! G

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

  • akaurora
    akauroraover 4 years ago

    A fabulous capture and story (must add this to my visit wish list). HUGE CONGRATS on your well deserved feature!! Take Care ~ Rick & Deb ~ ☺

  • Well, as I wrote to Sharon above, if we ever move to Sitka, you will have no reason to NOT come and visit! Who knows if this will ever happen but spending extended time in your state appeals so much to us. Thank you for your continued cheery support!

    – Gina Ruttle (Whalegeek)

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