Monday, September 26, 2011

Just foolin' around

Since I had my camera out yesterday, it made me think to grab my flash and such for some photos today.

Not my favorite photos I've ever taken, but I do enjoy them!

Leah was having so much fun with her photos that we had to stop literally after every shot so she could: a) chimp the LCD on the back of my camera and b) roll on the floor laughing. This was about as non-silly as it got.

Enjoy your day everybody, I know we will!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mt. St. Helens

We made a quick day trip to Mt. St. Helens yesterday afternoon. It's only about 2 hours away, and super easy to get to. The drive gets really pretty as soon as you leave the interstate with several pull-outs along the way.

We had originally planned to head to the coast for a camping trip, but the weather (as you can tell from the clouds) wasn't promising - and I'm glad we didn't go. We made our way to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which had a little walking path with phenomenal views of Mt. St. Helens which is five miles across that distant plain.

You can see the crater left behind from the 1980 eruption, which devastated Johnston ridge a mere 40 seconds after it blew. More than 30 years later the surrounding mountainsides, which used to be old growth forest, are littered with dead trees all lying in the same direction when they were flattened by the blast. Some areas show some trees struggling to make it back - but it is a very slow process. The immense scale of the devastation was fascinating and humbling.

I have some ideas of places I'd like to go to for some decent photographs, but that will be a trip for another day when I have time to sit and wait for the sunrise/sunset.

Have a wonderful day! Ciao,


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Photo Redux

Well, I said way back when that I'd post more photos from my trips to the Olympic National Park. I didn't mean for this to take so long, but there were hundreds of photos to weed out, then several were prettied up in photoshop and/or lightroom.

What I'm presenting here is just a couple of my favorites. You'll have to visit if you want to see the rest...

This first photo was from my trip to Point of the Arches at Shi Shi beach near the far northwestern edge of Washington. This was taken at sunrise on my walk back to the car.

This next photo is from the meadow of the mountain goons. I mean goats. If you look hard, you can see my camping spot where I didn't sleep, on those rocks in the middle right of the photo.

And this last one is a photo of the alpenglow from my camping spot over Lake of the Angels.

We've been very busy here at Fam Skinner (that's Deutsche!). Ian has started the second grade, and Leah has started Kindergarten. And now Catherine has landed a part-time job teaching cooking in Olympia. My work has been crazy busy, and I've just started back into school for my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree!

You know what they say, a rolling stone gathers no moss...

Have a wonderful day everybody. I'll try to prod Catherine into uploading some photos of the kids getting on the school bus this weekend. If only things would slow down, sheesh!



Sunday, September 4, 2011

Attack of the (Deranged Killer Mutant) Mountain Goats

I've been wanting to visit either Upper Lena Lake or Lake of the Angels in the Olympic National Park for some time now. On very short notice, I arranged to make the trip this past weekend. I would have stayed home had I known all of the shenanigans that followed . . .

I brought my bike so that I could ride from a road wash-out a mile or so to the trailhead. Once I arrived I discovered that the tube had blown (shredded is more like it), so I had to walk to the trailhead. No big deal.

Immediately upon starting the trail, I headed uphill. That wouldn't change for the next 4 miles as I gained almost 4000 feet in elevation. It was like a 4 mile/4 hour stairmaster carrying a 50 pound backpack! About halfway up, I encountered a guy heading down and we exchanged notes. I was already a sweaty mess and remarked about what a tough climb this had been. He told me that there were a couple of "headwalls" to get through prior to arriving at Lake of the Angels. Seems "headwall" is a hiker euphemism for "cliff". Going up wasn't the hard part on those headwalls - it was the going down that was scary!

I lost the trail at a couple of places, but really lost maybe only 5 minutes total. The trail wasn't well marked, and with all the stream crossings and alternate campsites/trails, I got on the wrong one a time or two. Again, no big deal.

I slogged my way up the second headwall, after crossing and climbing up a decent snowfield first. Once I got to the Lake of the Angels I was greeted by the resident herd of mountain goats. Those goats have absolutely no fear of human beings, and pretty much view us as walking salt licks. This, combined with a forewarning about their aggressiveness here, and the fact that a hiker was killed by a mountain goat in the Olympic National Park had me a bit nervous.

Those goats followed me around everywhere and kept me up literally all night long. I didn't realize until the next morning that those beggars were really thieves - they took my hat!! I hope that goat has a nasty stomach ache from eating my hat.

Anyways, the location was stunning. I saw an amazing sunset, watched the stars come out and light up the sky. It was so clear there I think I saw every star that is visible to the naked eye. Then I got to watch a pretty sunrise. I started my walk out pretty early, since I didn't want to share my breakfast with the goats (like I almost did with dinner). At the bottom of the first headwall, my left foot slipped, my knee buckled, and I pinwheeled down the slope. To make matters worse, the snowfield that I wrote about earlier was at the bottom of my fall (only about 6 feet or so). Which means I got to slide a bit downhill before coming to rest. I'm super lucky I didn't sprain my knee or ankle on that tumble. There were a couple of others on the way down (like I said, it was steep!) but nothing major.

All in all, I enjoyed Lake of the Angels. It was a beautiful alpine meadow and lake ringed in by mountains. I won't be going back though - those goats made the time there thoroughly unenjoyable. I'll look for another lake and alpine meadow that doesn't have a resident goat population!

Have a great day out there everybody. And sleep well, I know I will!