The static pages on my website have remained, well, pretty static in recent years! Over the winter, though, I went back and reprocessed images from my hiking trip to Kluane and the Tombstones in 2010, which I’ve now put together into a brief Yukon hiking page.
I’ve been enjoying the quiet trails in Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest, about a 30 minute drive from home. Wildlife here seems to be pretty elusive, and it’s by no means a spectacular landscape, but it’s peaceful and a good escape from the general built-up environment on Long Island.
Looking back at images from a winter trip to Yellowstone ten years ago. These were all taken with a Canon 5D Mk2, which was not known for its weather resistance. In fact, mine gave up the ghost in wet conditions on the Berg Lake trail later that same year! But it did fine in the cold and snow.
An image from way way back! I spent part of summer 1996 working in Tokyo, and toward the end of my stay joined a group for an ascent of Mount Fuji. We climbed overnight with the goal of making it to the top for sunrise, though that turned out to be a bit optimistic and the sun rose a bit before we reached the top. It was a holiday weekend in Japan and the crowds making the climb were more extraordinary than any of the scenery! (Though, just before dawn, there was quite an impressive fireball.)
Wednesday brought the first snowstorm of the Long Island winter. Compared to other places on the East coast it wasn’t too bad – about 6-8 inches – and by Thursday afternoon the skies had cleared and I went down to West Meadow beach to see how the sand, snow and sea looked. (“Sand” here is a bit of an optimistic description, but there is some and it’s always a good spot for a walk or run.) It was deserted! Sunset was quite special.
Comet NEOWISE did not, alas, brighten into anything that could be mistaken as a Great Comet. That said, it’s probably been as good as anything we’ve seen since Comet Hale-Bopp back in 1997, which I saw easily from downtown Toronto. This week it’s been visible, with a bit of effort, from moderately dark locations, and (much) easier to photograph.
After my first attempt earlier in the week, I followed up with a wider time-lapse sequence from the harbor at Port Jefferson, and then images at 200mm this evening. From a darker location I finally got a glimpse of the comet with the naked eye! The image below is a composite median filtered (using the excellent Starry Sky Stacker) from 13 frames, shot with an iOptron SkyTracker at ISO 1600, f/4.0, 20s.
I made a first attempt to see Comet NEOWISE after sunset this evening. It’s already easy to photograph, but from a brightly lit location at the side of the road I couldn’t really see it with the naked eye. Weather permitting, I’ll try again over the next week as it rises higher into darker skies.
THE WHEELER GEOLOGIC AREA, in Colorado’s La Garita Wilderness, is something of an oddity. Twenty five million years ago, vast volcanic eruptions – among the largest to have occurred on Earth during the last 500 million years – created the La Garita caldera and laid down a hundred meters or more of volcanic deposits. The eroded remains are visible over just a small area in the Wheeler Geologic area, where they form a landscape of spires that resembles a less colorful version of Bryce Canyon National Park. The area was Colorado’s first National Monument (somewhat amazing when you think of all the other spectacular landscapes in the state), but visitation never took off and it now sees relatively few visitors. In summer 2019, my brother and I explored the area on a day hike.
It remains possible to drive to the base of the Wheeler formations, but the road is in poor condition and genuinely reserved for high-clearance 4WD vehicles and ATVs. Alternatively, you can hike from the Hanson’s Mill trailhead along the East Bellows trail (#790). Hanson’s Mill is about 10 miles from Highway 149, along Pool Table Road (unpaved, but in good condition). The nearest town is Creede. From the trailhead it takes about 7 miles of hiking to reach the Wheeler Geologic Area, and the start of a loop around the formations that’s about 3 miles long. (If you just want to see the best part, or are short of time, go clockwise and stop at the overlook where there’s a bench.)
I’d rate this hike as recommended. The Wheeler is not one of Colorado’s most immediately spectacular locations, but it’s a unique landscape with an interesting geological and human history. Hiking there gives the feel of having reached an out-of-the-way spot (notwithstanding the presence of a handful of jeeps and ATVs), and makes for a good day out.
Last week I went back to Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park. I first visited the dunes back (I think) in 2002, when it was still a National Monument, and for a long time one of the favorite photographs of mine was the image below. It’s from a pullout on the road opposite the park entrance sign, shot on Fuji Provia and then drum scanned.
Seventeen years on the tree is still there, though it doesn’t seem to be growing in the harsh environment. This time around I framed a wider shot against a summer sunset sky.