Although the Alaska wildflower is the Forget-Me-Not, it would be easy for visitors to the state to assume it was Common Fireweed given its pervasiveness. It is even depicted on the Alaska Scenic Byway Route road signs. Its name derives from the fact that it is among the first plants to reappear after a wildfire due to its deep roots. Blooming in mid-summer, local lore also believes that fireweed is a harbinger of winter; snow is said to arrive six weeks after the blooms top out.
The summer of 2022 was a banner year for fireweed. It was especially widespread and brilliant along the western shore of the Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet in Southcentral Alaska. For residents and tourists alike, popular landscape photos are the “fire and ice” compositions that juxtapose colorful wildflowers with snow covered mountains. In this photo, “fire” carries a second meaning in that Mount Iliamna (10,016 feet) is a stratovolcano in the Aleutian Range of Alaska. This active volcano regularly emits plumes of steam and other gases from its many fumaroles. Several glaciers radiate from the summit.
I scouted this location the evening before in the hopes that sunrise the following morning would bring color to the sky and some interesting cloud formations. I was not disappointed.