We Sent A Photographer To Alaska — His Pictures Reveal The Last American Frontier

We’re big fans of Baldemar Fierro’s photography. We had him shoot our trip to Vernon, CA (the inspiration for Vinci in True Detective, Season 2), we shared the story behind his favorite photo, and he even gave us advice on how to take better pictures for ourselves.

So when we got invited to go touring the far reaches of Alaska in a souped up Toyota Tundra, we let Baldemar take the gig. The images he came back with filled everyone with jealousy and showed one of the last wild places.

“The whole trip was a reminder that there’s still a frontier worth fighting for,” Baldemar said upon his return. “There’s a wilderness we need to protect.”

Being outside in Alaska was the coldest I’d ever been. My core was warm, with all the layers, but I couldn’t keep my hands (with two layers of gloves), or my feet (with two layers of wool socks and heavy boots) warm.

The only fix I found was jamming my hands deep in my pockets with pocket warmers and stuffing more pocket warmers in my boots. 

Y’know, just a bear and a beaver hanging on the street in negative temperatures. 

A group of Japanese engineers and designers were there taking a caravan of Toyotas through the outback to see how they handled. I just loved imagining what these guys were thinking arriving straight from Japan and getting hugged by someone in a bear costume.

We met an Iditarod musher — Jerry Sousa — and these are the boxes he keeps his dogs in. I love this dog staring right at the camera, afraid of nothing in the world. 

The guy is a top twenty musher and listening to him was just fascinating, because it’s something I had literally no idea about.

He’s preparing dinner for the dogs here. Dealing with the cold is a constant part of in his life. He has no gloves — I had two pairs and I could hardly click the shutter on the camera. 

We moved our flight with K2 Aviation up a day because a storm was rolling in. I got to go first, as a photographer, so I figured I’d die flying right into the weather and everyone else would be fine.

The wings are so small on those planes — you feel every bit of the turbulence. 

The pilot had such a joy of flying — I could see how someone would fall in love with it. 

The flight was another thing that gives you scale and puts you in your place a little bit. It reminds you that we’re very small when it comes to the planet…

You remember that the world’s not revolving around social media. 

That we’re a part of this massive system. 

There’s still hope, there is still this wild space. 

You could imagine it being like the Wild West — people living at the edge of civilization. 

I haven’t seen anything like this from the air before — the color of the blue just caught me. 

…You could hunt and trap and… you could get away. 

This guy is going to get his plane because he landed it on a lake and it fell through the ice. So he’s retrieving it with a snowmobile. That’s what I saw over and over — people being independent and figuring it out.

We went to a local bar — everyone knew each other and they all knew the bartender. I had this idea that people go to Alaska to disappear, but everyone was so so hospitable. Straightforward, too — no ass kissing.

It gave this big town [Anchorage] a small town feel. This man in particular felt like a microcosm of the local nightlife. 

We ended up having Alaskan halibut fish and chips after a few drinks and, of course it’s fried, but you could taste how fresh it was. It was the best thing I’ve had in a long time — I got two orders.

You’re kind of on your own out there in the wild. You have to handle your sh*t. But if you can do that, you’ll also get help from friends and neighbors. I appreciated that duality: you have to manage alone, but there’s help when you really need it.