Friday, July 27, 2012

Sol Duc and the Lavender Festival

So the shot below is taken from the exact same location (tripod didn't move) as for the very specific shot I had alluded to in an earlier post. However, it still isn't the very specific shot. I need to remove the out of focus branch in the middle of the shot, but you can get an idea of what Sol Duc Falls looks like from downstream. I haven't seen too many photos from this location, probably because it is a bit scary standing at the top of the cliff and trying to find a good location to snap a photo.

This shot below is from Hurricane Hill. Finding deer there isn't much of a challenge, but if you look closely at the rocks, you'll see an Olympic Marmot sunning himself before the sun sets. I really like how every thing lined up here. I still need to work a bit on this shot to really make it pop, but I like it so far.

This photo may be one of my favorite abstract shots from the weekend. I just really like the repeating purples and greens. It almost looks like a checkerboard. A great-smelling checkerboard.

And what lavender field would be complete without a purple chair somewhere in the midst?

Okay. That's probably it from the past weekend in the Olympic National Park. It looks like I'll be staying local this weekend. Maybe a mad dash to Mt. St. Helens, but I don't think the snowpack has been melted long enough for the kind of photographs I am after. But it could be a fantastic bike ride!



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Olympic National Park, again?!?

This past weekend I went back to the Olympic National Park. AGAIN. This time I went to the northern most sections. The first night I spent at Sol Duc. I was looking for a very specific photo of these falls.

This isn't the very specific shot I was looking for. I have the photo, but I need to do some work in photoshop to make it extra special. I've not seen this composition before, though, so I still like it, especially since no one is on the bridge, which is no small feat.

I had a lazy morning in my tent/hammock - which I love - at Sol Duc. I headed out to Heart o' the Hills campground at the bottom of Hurricane Ridge and had my other camp site set up just before 11 in the morning. I was not prepared for the special day I had in store for me.

I was originally looking to just explore Hurricane Ridge and drive the Obstruction Point Road (which is scheduled to fully open from the snow this upcoming Friday - yeah!!!) and then run into Sequim for the Lavender Festival. No dice. I stayed the whole day on Hurricane Ridge. I walked the last half of the Obstruction Point Road, where I found this nice photo of some wildflowers in the foreground, with some of the Olympic Mountains in the background.

It was a bit too early for the peak of the wildflower season, so I decided to head back to Hurricane Ridge and take the short walk to Hurricane Hill and watch the sun set from there. It was worth the effort, and the sunset was beautiful. I'm glad I brought my cold gear, because once the sun started setting, it started to get cold! Not that the deer minded at all.

I'm still working on my photos from this weekend, so potentially look for more in the next several days or weeks. Have a wonderful day everybody!



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

This past weekend I took a much anticipated trip to the Enchanted Valley in the Quinault Rainforest in the Olympic National Park. It is in a remote corner and requires a bit of effort to get to, both driving and walking. I drove in Friday afternoon and got a bit of a later start than I wanted, but I still had plenty of time to make it to the halfway point and set up my camp for the evening. 

I briefly considered setting up camp here, at Pony Bridge, which is less than a quarter of the way to the Enchanted Valley. But since there was plenty of daylight left, I pushed the extra 3-4 miles to O'Neill Camp.

I haven't seen a proper thunderstorm in well over a year, since we don't really get thunderstorms here in the Olympia area. But Friday night I was awakened to some lightning and thunder. Luckily, I stayed dry. The sun came out early Saturday morning, which gave me a chance to dry out the tent while I enjoyed my coffee and packed up my camp. 

I headed out for the Enchanted Valley, another 6-7 mile hike from O'Neill Camp where I spent the night. Along the way I encountered this massive tree trunk. The trail runs right by it, so it is hard to miss. It had to have been one tall tree!

I finally made it to the Enchanted Valley a bit before 1 in the afternoon which was a touch later than I had hoped. That, and the fact that a landslide with high snow-melt river run off at a river crossing prevented me from walking up the Anderson Pass. Well, those couple of reasons and the fact that I don't own crampons, an ice ax, or possess mountaineering skills since the pass is still under snow!

So I decided to explore the Enchanted Valley a bit in my free time. There is a chalet there that works as the Ranger Station during the summers. The Ranger that works there has to pinch themselves daily that he/she gets to call this place "home" while they "work". The walls of the valley are pretty sheer, with waterfalls all over the place, Shrek and Fiona would feel right at home here.

I dipped my feet after my climb towards Anderson Pass in this glacier-melt river (East Fork of the Quinault River). COLD does not begin to describe it! Refreshing doesn't either, but I guess invigorating does.

Have a wonderful day everybody! I'm planning a trip to the northern part of the Olympic Park again this weekend, just in time for the Lavender Festival in Sequim. I'm planning on making a dash to Sol Duc, riding my bike from Hurricane Ridge to Obstruction Point (or as far as I can because the road hasn't opened from all the snow just yet), and hopefully making it up to Deer Park. That's a lot of places to see, so I'll probably have to scale that back a bit. I'll post photos next week as I have time. I hope you've enjoyed these photos, they were fun to take.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Leah Learns to Ride a Bike

I'm officially a geographic bachelor as Catherine and the kids have flown to Miami to spend some time with her family while I'm finishing up my duties with the ROTC Cadets. So I figured I'd upload one last shot of the kids before I go on some internet silence while they are gone. 

This first photo is just a snapshot from the park that I took yesterday. I have a couple of new (to me, they are actually quite old) lenses that I've attached to my digital camera that  I'm playing around with, this photo is from one of those lenses.

And just as the blog title exclaims, Leah has indeed learned to ride her bike and she deserves a couple of minutes of internet fame, too!

Minutes after I took this photo I put the pedals back on her bike and she actually pedaled her bike a bit, so she really can ride her bike. We'll be making a couple of bike trips to the park later this summer to help them get much better at riding - fun times!

Have a wonderful day everybody! I'm off to pack my backpack for this weekend's trip: The Enchanted Valley in the Olympic National Park! Cheers,


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Camp Thunderbird - Cub Scout Summer Camp!

Ian and I did the Cub Scout Summer Camp with the rest of our Den (and Pack) this past couple of days. To say we had a blast would be underselling it.

I brought the kids' waterproof camera, which I'm glad I did. Cut me some slack on the video, I was treading water for about 30 minutes getting a bunch of different cannonballs and group jumps prior to these. I'm (getting) old and was tired!

We'll definitely do this again next year, no doubt about it! The water was COLD, but very refreshing in the oppressive low 80's that we had to deal with...



Friday, July 6, 2012

Fourth of July photo

This is just a quick follow on to the last Fourth of July post. Last one for the year, I promise!

This was our vantage point with Mt. Rainier in the background. This is brought to you through photoshop magic, but does give you an idea of what we were looking at.

Have a wonderful day everybody!



Mt. Rainier redux

So after a late night at the fireworks show, I awoke at my usual (stupid) early time, which is before the sun has officially risen. I knew the tide charts for the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge reported high tide an hour after sunrise with enough water to completely cover the tidal flats. It had been sunny and clear the day before, and I was counting on it this morning. I wasn't disappointed.

The shot below was an off-hand shot, but has ended up as one of my favorites from this short jaunt (the Nisqually NWR is just 10 minutes from where we live). The boardwalk is always more enjoyable when the tide is up enough to completely cover the flats.

Since I had Thursday off too, I took Ian and Leah back to Mt. Rainier. Catherine made us our lunches so we could picnic there. Unfortunately, Paradise (as I've already reported) is still snowed in. This was a picnic table that we did not picnic at. We just chose a sunny spot by the visitor's center instead.

Just down the street from the snowed-in picnic table was this snow bank. It is not a snowplow-made bank, just all natural. I heard on the radio that Paradise still had 96 inches of snowpack - a far, far cry from the Clearfork Ski Area days. This is exciting because we had just under 140 inches this time last year and by the time snow-out had occurred it was already time for fall in the high (sub)alpine areas of the park. This area should be amazing once the snow melt is done and the alpine meadows are in bloom!

We completed our drive through the southern boundary of the Park and made our way to Ohanepecosh and walked the Grove of the Patriarchs trail. There was a suspension bridge that both kids just had to walk over by themselves.

I followed Leah very closely on the way over, but then dashed across (only one person at a time is recommended, mostly because of the swaying that occurs) to get photos of the kids coming across.

It was a long, sunny, glorious day. We escaped the oppressive heat of the lowlands (our car thermometer read 80 degrees Fahrenheit in direct sunlight after a break with the windows rolled up!!). It was in the low 60's at Paradise, but the sun coming at us from the glaciers and the snowpack was intense! All in all, a great day.



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Belated 4th of July

The Fourth was a busy holiday for us here in Washington. You'll remember from my previous post that I reported that Ian had learned how to ride his bike. If you look closely at the video, you'll notice that that was without pedals. Well, he decided he wanted me to put the pedals on, and he figured it out!

So Catherine, Leah, and I walked to the local park while Ian (proudly) rode his bicycle. 

Later on, we drove onto Post to catch the fireworks celebration. Not that we really needed too, what with all the Indian fireworks cheaply available (good ones too!). We arrived with plenty of time to spare, so the kids ran around for some time.

We even had to avoid the sprinklers, but our spot was pretty sweet.

Our spot was on the parade ground with Mt. Rainier in the distance. We saw a beautiful sunset followed by a moon rise just over one of Mt. Rainier's shoulders, pretty awesome.

They waited what seemed like forever to finally start the fireworks, but then they put on an enjoyable show. Both Ian and Leah agreed that this was the best night ever! They especially enjoyed the finale:

I hope you all had a great Independence Day! Cheers,


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ian Learns to Ride a Bike!!

I've been trying to teach Ian and Leah how to ride their bikes this summer. A friend told me to take off the pedals and get the kids to just kick and push themselves around a bit.

It worked! In less than 10 minutes Ian had found his balance. I'm going to let him do this a bit more until he is really comfortable, then I'll put the pedals back on. Plus his seat goes lower than Leah's, so it will help her get her balance too.

Enjoy! Oh, and if you get a chance to talk to Ian, make sure you tell him he's famous, that you saw him on the interwebs.