It has been dry, dry, dry in the northwest. That is finally starting to change. We had a storm front come through midday today.
In the distance there was some lightning. Up close, some of the peaks looked like volcanoes fuming in anger.
Mid-storm, we got some hail. Yep, that’s what those white blurs and streaks are.
It began to pass – all too soon, returning sun to the east face of Mount Moran. We need a LOT more rain.
It left us with the familiar range with a crown of clouds – and a bit of ice on the ground.
For the past week, I have been hanging out at a snow plow turnaround off Buffalo Valley Road, overlooking Buffalo Fork. I have seen lots of haze, but did not do much photography.
Last night, a front came through, preceded by showers. This is what I saw just before going to bed.
And this is what I awoke to this morning, my day of departure.
Nice spot… but it is becoming “discovered”. I had it to myself twice during the week.
I am dry camping a few miles east of the Grand Teton National Park, above the Buffalo Fork, a tributary to the Snake River. Around me are fishing, camping and hunting access roads and wilderness trails. I started out near the campsite, following a two rut path down toward the stream.
You can see my RV and a neighbor, with whom I am sharing the site, in the photo above.
Next, I headed east along the road to a wilderness trail. The north leg headed up, and the south leg headed down. I went north.
About 50 feet later, having almost lost it three times, I turned around. The bike was fine – it wanted to climb, but the trail was perhaps a foot wide, with uneven edges, several inches of dusty, very loose dirt, and underbrush right up to the edge of the trail, which had sharp angles in it. The hoof prints showed it to be used primarily by horses. Maybe with the reflexes and balance I had 40 years ago, I could have done it, but I decided, not now.
I headed further east and found a fishing access “road”. It would be impassable for the Subaru due to deep ruts and sharp dips in places, but the bike enjoyed it.
Finally, the scenery I wanted was beginning to open for me.
OK, now THIS is NICE. This is what I was hoping to find with my new legs. I know, the light isn’t great. I am shooting toward the sun. There is haze in the air from wildfires to the west. The peaks are far away. Still – this put a smile on my face.
OK, it is 4:30. Time for a nap…
Wow – three months since my last post… I haven’t been dragging my feet. Honest. I have been really busy, looking for, and hopefully finding, a new way to get a bit off road for my photography. What I found was an electric moped.
I won’t belabor you with the path I followed, but it was challenging. Finally, at the end of June, I received the bike and licensed it. It will go 20 mph on the flat, but I wanted to see what it would climb. I headed off to Glass Butte in Oregon to try some hills.
This spot is one that was too rough for my car and too far for last year’s legs, so I have never seen this view. It isn’t spectacular, but it was new to me, a proof of concept, as it were, therefore exciting to me.
I learned that the bike will pull me up a 15% grade briskly, will get me up an 18% grade, but presented with a 22% grade, it said, uh uh, not gonna do it.
I took a very short ride along the road in Idaho at a spot I stopped at for the night.
Right now, I am close to West Yellowstone, in a nice little campground, so I took a tour with my camera.
OK, I COULD have reached these spots with my car, but I would have had to park on the campground road for them, which would have been a concern for anyone passing by. I wouldn’t have walked – too far. So, these are pics, again, that I got with the bike but would not have gotten without it.
I think (I hope) this will work for me.
Working my to the northwest, the next stop for me was Capitol Reef. Native Americans called this home long before Europeans saw it.
For two days, I too called this home.
My first day here was beneath grey skies. The sun sneaked out on the afternoon of the second day, so I headed out. I found the Capitol Dome…
Further west, the views were expansive.
This place is full of trails; it was frustrating to not be able to hike them. Still, there is a road, called Scenic Drive, that gives a nice experience.
I visited Monument Valley in 2010, and decided it was time to return. My buddy Jim jokingly urged me to get a sunrise shot, knowing that I tend to sleep in. Well, usually…
While sunrise was ok, the late day colors on the rock really do it for me.
Of course, given the chance, I put myself in the photo.
I opened the new year boon docking east of Las Cruces, near the Organ Mountains. Of course, the one week when I decide to camp off the grid, is the week the biggest snow storm in the memory of most folks down there came through. Before the storm, I was presented with a light show on some incredibly rugged peaks.
After the storm, which dropped at least 12″ of snow on my solar panels and I don’t know how much more on the ground around me, I spent a night at a commercial campground before returning to Caballo.
At Caballo, Jim and I found a new area to explore, the Gila National Forest. Unfortunately, my hiking has come to an end. That means my photos from here on out need to be locations near the car.
I think I can live with that…
With the snow and ice melting, the streams are flowing nicely. So, while Jim and Sweety go hiking, I find nice spots near the car to enjoy the sight and sound of these clean mountain streams.
And now, spring is just about here. The first signs are showing up.
Before long, it will be time to head northwest again.
Yesterday was a grey day here in the campground. There was not a hint of blue in the sky, the temperature was in the high 20’s and, surprisingly for New Mexico, it felt damp and raw. So, of course, Jim and I went hiking.
Actually, we went west into the Gila National Forest, looking for hiking and snow or ice photo ops. Well, surprise… As we drove west toward the Gila Mountains, we began seeing hints of blue near the horizon, behind the peaks. As we got closer, we began to see trees with a dusting of white. It didn’t look like snow, though.
It wasn’t snow. Clouds had come through the pass, spilled down onto the trees, and the sub-freezing vegetation encouraged the moisture to form tiny feathers of ice on every surface.
Finally, the sun hit the feathers, creating a magical few minutes.
Shortly, the temperature had climbed above freezing and those feathers turned into droplets. Pretty, but it couldn’t compare with what we had been seeing. A few minutes earlier, and there would have been no sun on the crystals. A few minutes later, and the crystals would have been gone. Serendipity.
For seven years, in the winter I have been hiking in the high desert near Elephant Butte and Caballo. I knew, intellectually, that the Gila National Forest was to the west, but I knew little about it. That changed when Jim and I went exploring for something new.
We found a wonderful area. The streams cut passages through the rock walls. With care, one can make their way along the stream bed. Sometimes it is all but impassable.
Sometimes, it is easy.
What we found there were treasures. Some were tiny falls dropping into pools.
Some were more substantial falls.
The REAL surprise, though were the ever-varying ice formations created along the stream. The varicolored rocks in the stream bed are joined by reflections on the frozen crystal forms from the canyon walls.
It seemed like there were new attractions every few feet.
The topper, for me, was this sculpture of a boot in ice. It’s all there – the sole, heel, laces and pants leg.
So, finishing out the year, here is one more unusual image for this area – snow in the mountains.
Happy New Year to all.
Combine the three…
I know it has been a while. I have gotten a few nice pics here and there, but I prefer to post several photos linked by a theme when posting here. Well, yesterday an opportunity presented itself.
It had been raining off and on, all day. Late in the afternoon, clouds darkened the sky to the east. The sun, screened by the edge of a storm cloud, was approaching open sky. The combination meant a rainbow might happen.
I got my camera and two lenses, went outside, and sat at my table, waiting. In a few minutes, the sun cleared that cloud, and my planning was rewarded.
As the sun dropped, the rainbow got more intense, forming a double arc of color.
It grew to form the most intensely colored rainbow I have ever seen.
This morning, I awoke to see another double rainbow, nowhere near as intense as the night before, in the western sky. Ahh, New Mexico light…