Tag

snow

Our Journey, Photography

Week of Waterfalls

Week of Waterfalls
Week of Waterfalls
Week of Waterfalls
Week of Waterfalls
Week of Waterfalls
Week of Waterfalls

After a lovely week in Bandon, we headed further up the coast and inland to the town of Silverton. It was a pleasant place for me to spend my time while Brandon went back to Virginia for work. Downtown Silverton, while quite compact, was full of numerous restaurants and was a nice place for an evening stroll. The RV park was also only a 20 minute drive from Silver Falls State Park, which is a beautiful park with well maintained hiking trails. The main trail was just a little over 10 miles and boasted nearly a dozen waterfalls. I wasn’t able to finish the full trail but was able to hike far enough to see two of the falls. One of which has a trail that lets you walk behind the waterfall for a refreshing view from behind as the mist swirled about in the air.

While at the RV Park, I also learned about the local birds. There’s a local species of starling that particularly likes to build nests in the hitches of RVs. After clearing out the nest that they had built, I left the materials nearby so that they could use them to build the nest elsewhere. Instead, I returned to find them building the nest in the hitch again. After removing the nest I used a plank of wood to block the hitch so that they couldn’t get back in. The starlings were persistent though, and somehow managed to move the wood out of the way to build yet another nest! Another RV patron was amused by my frustration and told me that the only way to stop them was to completely seal off the hitch using a garbage bag. That seemed to do the trick but what a pain.

It seemed like no time at all before Brandon was back at the RV again. It was time to move again, and this time we were heading back south to Roseburg. The area was beautiful with the campsite right next to a lazily flowing river. Although it was well out of the way, it provided us relatively close access to Umpqua National Forest. The first trip into the forest was a late afternoon visit to the famous Toketee Falls. The trail down to the falls led us past several smaller falls that fed into a deeply channeled gorge. After a short half mile or so we reached the larger falls which carved their way through a layer of basalt columns. There was a side path that descended down to the bottom of the falls using ropes but it was already late in the day and we didn’t have time to visit. It is definitely a must though the next time we are in town as the views from the top are obstructed by an assortment of pines. Instead, we took out the drone and tried to get some footage but it was very difficult with all the trees. A small loss of signal caused the drone to plunge through the branches of one of those trees. We were quite certain that it would be damaged but the resilient little machine managed to escape unharmed. Unfortunately, none of the footage turned out. It seems like the incident with the tree must have smudged the lens because everything captured after was completely blurry and unusable. Despite the mishap, the whole place was serene and worth coming back to visit.

Our next trip out was to Crater Lake. It was much further away so we took our time, driving out to stay at a hotel so that we were much closer for more opportunities to take photos. We were surprised to find that despite the warm weather in the valley we would be trekking through deep snow covered ground. In places the snow drifts were more than five feet deep. Due to the snowfall, most of the roads connecting into the park were closed. This limited where we could visit to exclusively the southern-most rim. The crater rim was covered in streaks of snow going downwards into the icy blue waters of the caldera. Wizard’s Island, the only cinder cone that protrudes high enough to be visible above the water line was covered in pines nearly all the way to the top. The wind was whipping us in the face, sometimes gusting hard enough to cause us to stumble as we looked out at the view. Even during the day the temperature was probably a good 20-30 degrees cooler than the valley.

After the sun set we descended the mountain and headed back into the valley to find food. The only thing that was open was a tiny drive-in shack that sold hot dogs and hamburgers. After dinner we drove back another hour to return to the mountain again to try for some astrophotography. Unfortunately, the wind made it rather difficult even with the tripod. The wind had become a howling gale since we had been there only a few hours before. Trembling in the cold and struggling to stay standing, we decided not to trek into the woods to our previous location, and stay near the truck. With so much wind and the need to keep the shutter open to let in the starlight, there was only so much we could do before giving it a rest. When we finally retreated back into the truck, I could hardly feel my legs, and was very grateful to turn the heated seats on full blast. As we drove back to the hotel to get some rest, what appeared to be a young wolf trotted across the road in front of us, and disappeared into the darkness of the trees.

The next morning we began the drive back to the RV and decided to hike to National Creek Falls. Since we had the dogs with us and the trail seemed largely empty, we thought they might enjoy the exercise and took them on the hike with us. Most of the trail was a series of switchbacks making the descent downwards much easier. Paatos was happily trotting along in the lead, eager to smell everything he could and enjoying the nature. Loki was a different story, not liking to be behind, she pulled and tried to take any short cut she could to try and take the lead again. Once we made it to the falls, Brandon had to cross some logs to make it across the stream to get below the waterfall. This made both of the dogs rather anxious and on multiple occasions they nearly dragged me into the water as they tried to cross the logs. After Brandon had captured his shots and crossed back over they relaxed and just enjoyed the fresh air.

The waterfall itself was a gushing torrent of water that sent up spray, cascading down the rocks and tucked away in the forest, surrounded by undergrowth. The whole area had a surreal, almost fantasy feel as you gazed up at it through the forest. The whole area was alive with green growth, whether it was the trees, vines, or the moss that covered everything else. The hike back up was a bit slower, but both of the dogs were content to pull us up the trail and it seemed to take no time at all. Once we made it back to the truck, Paatos and Loki hopped in, and took a long nap on the trip home. While we didn’t get to cover all the areas we had hoped to cover and actually discovered some new ones, we enjoyed what we were able to see and look forward to the next visit. In the meantime, we are heading back to the coast to continue our goal of making it all the way up 101.

Our Journey, Photography

Zion & Kolob Canyons

Zion & Kolob Canyons
Zion & Kolob Canyons
Zion & Kolob Canyons
Zion & Kolob Canyons
Zion & Kolob Canyons
Zion & Kolob Canyons
Zion & Kolob Canyons
Zion & Kolob Canyons
Zion & Kolob Canyons

When we arrived at Zion we had high hopes for the week. We were put on a site that was next to a lovely group of people visiting from California. The campground was fairly empty and backed up to the Virgin River that flowed down from the mountains and created a tranquil place to sit and relax. The only major downside was the massive amount of construction that the town was undergoing. All of the roads were being torn up and repaved before the busy tourist season commenced. Unfortunately for us, this meant that going anywhere, whether to the grocery store or to the park, became an easy thirty minutes of waiting for the one way road to clear.

Each day after work we would head into the park and wait patiently for the sun to set over the nearby mountain range. The weather was in the 60’s and was a nice change of pace from the freezing nights the past few weeks. One oddity we discovered in attempting to get sunset shots was that there must be some sort of weather anomaly for the area. The valleys surrounding Zion would have perfect, wispy, high altitude clouds, but as you get closer to and into Zion valley, the clouds completely clear away and you are lucky to even get a single tiny cloud in the sky. We can’t be sure if this is an actual weather pattern or just our misfortune but it made getting ideal sunset shots impossible.

The first couple of nights we went to one of the more iconic points for sunset photography, the Canyon Junction bridge over the Virgin River. This is the stereotypical, postcard view but for good reason. The river bends at just the right angle to create a nice foreground with the Watchman in the background painted with the last glows of sunlight. The downside of course is that everyone knows this and there tends to be a large conglomerate of tourists and photographers alike jostling over the limited space. On our third visit to Zion however, we decided to head further down the river to a second bridge. While more overgrown than other parts of the river we were pleased to discover a small amount of glow reflected off the water. Additionally, there was a smaller stream that merged with the river at this point creating a waterfall. While it wasn’t the postcard view, it was at least something a little different from the run of the mill shot and was quiet enough to just sit and enjoy the sunset.

The daunting traffic in town had caused us to overlook the nearby Kolob Canyon that we should have considered earlier in the week. The canyon itself is not as remarkable or as well-known as Zion, but at this time of year it had a rather unusual advantage: snow. Just after the last snows of winter and before the warmth of spring, small amounts of snow can be found clinging to the North facing parts of the canyon that don’t receive as much sunlight as the rest of it. This, coupled with the dark orange and red textures of the rock and the bright green of the pines, gave the area an even greater contrast. Together it created a visual appeal that we hadn’t found in Zion Canyon. After the sun had set, we proceeded down into the small town of Cedar City to grab some food and a bit of dessert. The latter, Sub Zero Ice Cream, was quite a discovery. Despite having locations across the country, neither of us had been there before. Unlike other ice cream vendors, their claim to success was using liquid nitrogen to freeze a custom mix of base dairy and toppings. The end result was possibly the best ice cream we have had.

After our excursion to town, we returned back to Kolob Canyon to attempt a bit of astrophotography. Despite our best efforts, the excessive light pollution from nearby Cedar City and Hurricane completely ruined any efforts. Where there should have been stars instead lay gaps of dark, empty spaces. Instead, we decided to head back to the Canyon Junction bridge in Zion since it was far enough away from civilization to have the light pollution of Kolob. There was a different set of difficulties to getting an astro-shot there though. Due to the fact that the road through Zion is still a main road for the area, cars cross over the bridge even in the dead of night. Careful timing could end up leading to nothing if a car came around the bend unexpectedly, and ruin an entire shot. As was the case, this happened frequently and it proved that patience was the key to getting any results.

With the week at an end, we packed up and once again hit the road, this time to Las Vegas. Though neither one of us is particularly thrilled with being back here, it is a necessary evil as it is one of the major transportation hubs in the region. Brandon will be heading back to D.C. for a week and half and this is one of the cheaper places for him to fly back. Once he returns we will be heading through Death Valley and up to Yosemite.

Photography

Chamonix & Manarola

Chamonix & Manarola
Chamonix & Manarola
Chamonix & Manarola
Chamonix & Manarola
Chamonix & Manarola
Chamonix & Manarola
Chamonix & Manarola
Chamonix & Manarola

Finally getting around to going through photos from our trip in Europe last year. Here’s a batch from Chamonix, France and Manarola, Italy.