Friday, September 30, 2011

Sunrise at Arches National Park

Arches NP is the location of many natural sandstone arches carved by wind and water into the rocks.  Some are large, some small.  Some attract a crowd of photographers in the early mornings and late afternoons when the light is best.  (Me too...)

Just before sunrise, the rocks glow with a red-orange luminance.  THIS is why the photographers are there.

As the sun touches the rock, the vivid orange color is so strong that it almost washes out detail on the rock surface.

The area has much more than just arches.  Fantastic shapes formed of rock are everywhere.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Scary Road

Shafer Trail, dropping into the canyon at Canyonlands National Park, is a two way roadway that, for most of what I saw of it, is only 10 to 12 feet wide.  It follows the cliff face, with a drop from the edge of the road of up to 700 feet.  In some places the road is actually undercut so that the rock below the road bed curves in until there is nothing but air below the road.


How Close is Too Close?

Well, this may be a hint...

As I was leaving Grand Teton National Park, I was somewhat disappointed that I had seen no bears, and a far-off glimpse of a moose.  Ahead, I saw a lot of cars parked at the side of the road.  This usually means a critter is near by.  I slowed, and saw a nice bull moose a few hundred yards off in a field.

The majority of the photographers who elected to get out of their cars maintained a safe distance, and the moose paid them token attention, but was not really focusing on them.

One lady, however, went closer and stayed longer.  The moose never took his eyes off her until she was almost back to the road.

She got away with it, but I seriously was wondering if she would get charged.  She had no place to run, no place to hide.

Where was I?  Sitting in the driver's seat of a 14,000 pound vehicle...

Friday, September 23, 2011

More Teton Dawn and Wildlife

I once again was at an overlook before sunrise, this time looking for critters.  I had seen a cow moose and calf a few days ago, briefly, and went back trying for a shot.  I did not see them, but I did see a bull moose but from too far away for a photo.  Instead, I got to watch another grand sunrise.  First, the range before the sun is up...

Then, the sun is just kissing the tops of the peaks.

The light works its way down the face until it finally reaches the valley floor.

With the coming of sunlight, the moose disappeared but a herd of elk made an appearance.  In the meadow, about a mile from me, I watched two bull elk getting a bit aggressive with each other.  The confrontation, if there was one, happened behind the vegetation.  I saw the elk on the right backing up, head lowered, before turning and trotting off.

The other stood in the meadow and repeatedly bugled his challenge across the valley.

Heading north, I had two sightings fairly close by.  The first was a mule deer.

The second was an elk, only about 100 yards from me.

I finished the early morning watching a pair of otters playing at the water's edge.

Then, I headed home for coffee and breakfast.  Thanks for joining me for this sunrise.  What a great way to start a day!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

So Just HOW "Lonely" Were They...

... for those French trappers, the Europeans who named the Grand Tetons, to see the soft curves of a woman in these craggy peaks?

In any event, looking upon these peaks was breathtaking then, and still is now.  It takes a lot for me to get up before 8:00, but I have been out at dawn several times now.

Early morning, the mist rises off the Snake River as the sun paints the foliage.

Early morning and late afternoon are when the animals are most viewable.  Just after sunrise, I saw a bull elk from less than 50 feet.

This bison stood at the edge of the herd, warming in the afternoon sun.

What I will take away from here in a few days, however, is the memory of these magnificent dawns painting the eastern face of the Teton Range.

Friday, September 2, 2011

North Cascades Parting Shots

It is time for me to head down to Oregon before driving east to the Grand Tetons.  So, here are a few final shots of the North Cascades.

First, Mount St Helens.  It continues to emit gases.  (But then, so do I...)
(I know the camera looks like it is on an angle above, but it is not.  That is just the slope near St Helens.)

From the slopes of Mount St Helens, wildflowers overlook Mount Adams in the distance.

From my campground, I can see dusk casting its shadow in the crater of Mount St Helens.
A few statistics - Mt Rainier is a giant among giants.  It is 14,410 feet high.  Its slopes form a cone that is about 16 miles in diameter.  The surrounding rivers flow directly away from the peak until dropping to about 2000 feet elevation, the base land elevation.  The peak has a rise of more than 12,000 feet above that base land elevation, compared with 7,700 feet of rise for Pikes Peak. 

Wandering around Mount Rainier, I drove up the road to Sunrise, a viewpoint that I never saw at sunrise.  I did, however, get some spectacular views of the surrounding Cascades wilderness, some with Mount Adams in the distance.
(You will need to click on this one...) Even though I am at more than 6,000 feet, Mount Rainier in the distance rises another 8,000 feet above me.

South of the Rainier peak, Reflection Lake was too ruffled by breezes to provide much of a reflection.

On the way out of the Rainier area, one more view of Mount Adams was offered.