As you wander along the trails, marveling at these very tall coastal redwood trees in Redwood National and State Parks, you’ll notice all sorts of interesting knots and bumps and “molten wood sculptures” around the bases of these trees. Those are burls and are another way for the redwoods to sprout new growth, in addition to growing from seeds the size of a tomato seed. The ranger told me burl sprouts occur usually during some sort of traumatic event like a fire.
So, if you find yourself roaming the trails in this series of parks, take a look at the bases of these trees, photograph those burls, and notice whether or not you see any sort of growth from those “bumps.”
They call this tree the “Penthouse Tree.” The damaged bark revealed the heartwood of this tree, which began to rot. In so rotting, it provided nutrients for other vegetation, such as the leather fern and evergreen huckleberry growing atop this redwood. This vegetation has a room with a view! If you ever have a chance to visit Redwood National and State Parks, you should definitely wander this 1.3-mile easy trail located in Redwood National Park. There’s a plaque dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson, who was there to dedicate this national park. Many of the sights you’ll see have numbered stakes beside them that correspond to descriptions in a brochure of this hike. The brochure used to be available at the trailhead, but due to Covid, the box is no longer stocked. You can, however, print out and read your own copy of the pamphlet by clicking on the image above.
On this Trivia Tuesday, did you know that you could once actually drive up to view Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park, instead of the 1.5-mile walk you take now? You can read about this and other interesting facts about this unique hot spring in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.
To read the story, click on either of the images above.
Thanks to people, this pool has changed its colors due to all the trash and coins folks have thrown into the water. Just a reminder: none of those colorful hot springs are wishing wells or trash cans, folks. They are unique, rare, and delicate geologic features that deserve our wonder, respect, and appreciation, not rocks, kleenex, snack wrappers, and coins.
A view of the Colorado River and Vermilion Cliffs from the Navajo Bridge in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona
The Colorado River begins in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and runs about 1,450 miles through several states and empties out (eventually) into the Gulf of California. I saw a very tiny segment of this river during my short, 1-hour visit to Navajo Bridge in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on my way to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
As part of the National Parks Traveler’s continuing series on the health of the Colorado River, a great article has been published today about how climate change is affecting the Colorado River water in Glen Canyon NRA. Definitely worth a read.
To read this article, click on the image above.
I know, I have lots of links to the National Parks Traveler, don’t I? If you are new to my blog site (or if you just don’t look at my site that often but still follow me), I am a writer and photographer and contributing editor for the Traveler. I also believe in what the Traveler does, which is to report on our national parks and protected areas on a daily basis, providing you with travel, photography, and news articles you wouldn’t find anywhere else – at least, not on a daily basis.
In retrospect, I wish I could have stayed a little longer at Navajo Bridge then driven the 6 miles down to Lees Ferry to hike along the river. But, having departed Petrified National Park early that morning (it was a little after 10 AM when I captured the image above), I was tired from driving and ready to get to my next destination (the North Rim) with time to explore *that* area.
It’s #waterfallwednesday ! So here’s a photo of a lovely, tall waterfall on an overcast autumn day, the trail of which nearly killed me to get to. Ok, I’m exaggerating. The trail to this tall waterfall is easy and well-maintained. I was just (as usual) lugging along a pack full of camera gear and a heavy tripod. I’d just finished photographing Grand Prismatic from that new overlook and was hiking onward toward Fairy Falls. Having never been there before, I didn’t have any idea (because I hadn’t done my homework) and checked to see how far it was from the overlook. As I was hiking down from the overlook, this very nice couple looked back at me and asked if I was continuing on toward the falls. I said I was and they invited me to hike with them because they didn’t feel right about me hiking alone, with a bear frequenting the area. So, I did, blithely hiking at or around their pace (I think they slowed down a little for me – both were veteran hikers). We had a lovely time talking and we finally got to the trailhead for the falls, itself, and the mileage was 1.6 one way. My brain hesitated but my legs did not. Had I been alone, I might not have hiked even that relatively short distance with all the stuff I was hefting with me, but I was enjoying my visit with this nice couple, so I kept on with them. You know, it’s always such a reward to see whatever sight it is at one’s end destination, when you are pooped and sweating and think the damned trail is never going to end 😆
A morning alone with Solitary Geyser, Yellowstone National Park
This pretty geyser is indeed, solitary, sitting all by itself and located a short hike from either the Upper Geyser Basin boardwalk or on the way up or down the trail from Observation Point. This is one of those geysers that people tampered with way back when they didn’t understand geysers or geology that well. They wanted to use the hot spring water so they put a pipe in it, which lowered the water level several feet and caused the then-hot spring to turn into a geyser that erupted every few minutes. They removed the pipe and the water level rose again, but it continued to be a geyser that now erupts every 5-7 minutes (give or take). It’s not a huge geyser, though. It sort of “burbles” and erupts about 3-4 feet (so the nearby sign says). It was difficult to even see it erupt on that chilly day because of all the steam. I could only tell it was going to erupt by watching for ripples in the water in the far left corner of the geyser, which occurred just before that “burble” of an eruption.
I first visited Black Sand Basin in Yellowstone National Park during the evening on the previous day from this shot. It was overcast and getting dark and I didn’t even notice this little side area next to the entry drive to the parking lot. I didn’t see this until I visited the next morning, a lovely, sunny day. I’ve been reading: TravelBrains’ “Yellowstone Expedition Guide” and learned this interesting fact: the trees you see here are dead, of course. The bottoms of their trunks are white because they absorbed the hot water in the area, which is filled with silica in solution. That silica comes out of solution and is what has colored those trunk bottoms. It’s the first step in petrification of the trees. Oh, and Black Sand Basin gets it’s name from the black obsidian sand grains in the area. Cool, huh?
The National Parks Traveler has published Part 3 of my Armchair Photography Guide to Olympic National Park. Part 3 deals with traveling to and photographing the mountains of this amazing park. To read the article, click on the photo above.
Artist Paint Pots Geothermal Basin with Mount Holmes in the distance, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
It’s a short walk along a well-trod path to get to the boardwalk beginning the loop around the Artist Paint Pots basin. As I stepped onto the boardwalk, I passed a couple of men talking to each other. Another friend approached and they told him that their wives were off looking at the sights while they remained there, since they were not that enthused about the area. Lo and behold, as I passed the men, their wives returned and one of them said sarcastically “Well, that was a blast.” They were not impressed, either.
I don’t know what those two couples were expecting, but I have a feeling they have not been reading my photo column in the National Parks Traveler, where I urge people to 1) keep their expectations on the low side since it’s likely they will not see exactly what they expect to see, and 2) observe what is around them. Really *look* at where they are and what they see. I am assuming that the couples, like many other people who come to this area, were a little jaded and didn’t stop to think about what they were standing upon: thin crust with a busy geothermal system beneath them. It’s amazing that we can enter a national park that is so geologically active. How many other places in the world can you see so many active geysers, hot springs and fumeroles all in one area? How many other places can you actually hear the hissing of the steam and see the bubbling water and mud pots? I know there are some, but I’ll wager not that many that you can actually get to. When you are someplace like Artist Paint Pots, you are walking beside geysers and hot springs with boiling or near-boiling water.
These couples probably did not appreciate the many colorful hot springs around them (hence the name “Artist Paint Pots”), or the panoramic view that included a snow-iced Mount Holmes in the far distance.
I brought with me the mindset of a geologist and photographer, so I saw beauty everywhere I walked in that small basin. As a matter of fact, that’s what I told a retired gentleman and his wife as he approached the trailhead, with a daughter and active 6-year old in tow. He stopped me and said: “Two questions: how far to get there and is it worth it?” I told him I thought it was worth it but I was seeing everything through a geologic and photographic background. I then told him about the reactions of those two couples. I told him that I’d also seen another couple with their 4-year old child who was managing the walk and the uphill climb to the bridge overlook (which is where I stood to take this photo) with no problems. I said to him that they’d have to judge for themselves as to whether or not the hike and the view were worth it. I certainly thought both were.
Usually, I don’t travel to any national park with high expectations. I even wrote an article in the National Parks Traveler about the rewards of lowered expectations. I know it’s going to be rainy, overcast, snowing, probably the roads will be slick, and there might even be another f***ing government shutdown while I am there. Nonetheless, I am stoked to be returning to Yellowstone National Park in a few days for 8-1/2 days of fall photography. For a portion of that time, I’ll be staying at the historic Old Faithful Inn, and will definitely get some interior architecture images of that beautiful lodge. I so wanted to do this during my short summer stay (2-1/2 days) during my road trip move from Texas to central Washington, but the inn was full, the crowds were YUGE, and I ultimately needed to get back on the road again to my sister’s home.
I’ll be taking 3 cameras with me and an assortment of lenses: my Canon 5DSR, Canon 1DX Mk II, and Pentax 645z. I’ll take the Canon 16-35mm, 14mm, 24-70mm, 24-105mm, 100-400mm with a 1.4x extender, Pentax 28-45mm, and Pentax 55mm lenses. No need to tell me it’s going to be a heavy backpack I take onto the plane with me. I already know that. I had to pack one of my lenses into my laptop bag, which will also be carried onto the plane. Hey, I don’t know when I will be able to return to Yellowstone, so might as well bring as much as I can carry and that’s allowable on the plane, because I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Plus, I’ve broken lenses before while traveling (Hawaii comes to mind), so I’m being a little redundant with one of the lenses. I decided on this instead of trying to work around taking my Canon 500mm lens. As it is, I’ll probably forget something, even though I’ve written a list of things to pack.
Soon, soon, I will be back inside America’s first national park. Can’t wait!
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