Category Archives: Yellowstone National Park

It’s Waterfall Wednesday 5-27-2020!

It’s #WaterfallWednesday ! So here’s a bevvy of waterfalls, and if you click on each photo, you’ll read an interesting fact or two about each.

This image was captured during a winter in Zion National Park, in Utah, so the water is more of a trickle or a track, indicating it’s falling down the side of a hanging valley. According to the placard I read: “Side valleys began to form at the same time as the Virgin River Canyon. But, the main stream downcut faster than its tributaries, leaving them hanging high above the canyon floor. The mouths of hanging valleys are a likely place to look for waterfalls; they also indicate the river’s former level – a measure of the stream’s carving power.”

This image was captured after a bit of a sweaty trek for me, carrying a heavy camera pack (as per usual) and a heavy tripod, working hard to match the pace of my two new friends who insisted I hike with them to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone National Park, because of a bear frequenting the area. I enjoyed the hike more than the falls itself, because I had a pleasant time visiting with the very nice couple.

According to the NPS site page for this park: “Fairy Falls, 200 feet (61 m) high, is one of Yellowstone’s most spectacular waterfalls. From the trailhead, walk 1.6 miles (2.6 km) through a young lodgepole pine forest to the falls. You can continue 0.6 miles (0.97 km) to Spray and Imperial geysers, which adds 1.2 miles (1.9 km) to the hike.” I was too pooped to hike to the geysers, so I and the couple turned around after a short looksee at the falls. I saw that waterfall in October, so the falls wasn’t as “spectacular” in terms of water volume as it probably is during the late spring and early summer.

A waterfall that I *did* think was pretty spectacular was Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. There is a large parking lot for this next-to-the-road sight with several different vantage points you can walk to along a nice, wide, paved trail. If this is what the waterfall looked like during the autumn, I can only image how powerful it must look during times when the water volume is higher.

According to author Lee H. Whittlesey in his book Yellowstone Place Names: “Gibbon Falls is believed to drop over part of the wall of the Yellowstone Caldera, which is thought to be 640,000 years old.”

Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park, is reached via a very popular, less-than-2-mile hike on a trail that starts behind Storm King Ranger Station, a hop-and-a-skip from Lake Crescent Lodge. This long, narrow waterfall seemingly nestled within a bed of green ferns reminds me of a whiskey bottle, with a long, tall neck and a shorter, fuller, bottom. To get there, you cross a couple of neat log bridges then handle some steep stairs up to two different viewing areas.

If you ever have the opportunity to spend a few days in the remote community of Stehekin, Washington, located at the head of Lake Chelan in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, then take a hike (after visiting the Stehekin Bakery) or take a bus ride to popular Rainbow Falls. The waterfall cascades 312 feet down to Rainbow Creek, and there are a couple of vantage points from which to view this misty falls – near the bottom of the falls and a short hike toward the middle portion of the falls. It’s one of the most popular stops for day trippers to Stehekin (aside from the bakery, that is) 😉

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, National Parks, North Cascades Complex, Olympic National Park, Photography, Stehekin, Travel, Utah, Washington State, Waterfall Wednesday, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park

It’s Fun Fact Friday 5-8-2020!

Heart Spring

Heart Spring, Upper Geyser Basin, temperature > 190 degrees Fahrenheit

Belgian Pool

Belgian Pool, Upper Geyser Basin, temperature ~ >150 degrees Fahrenheit

Did you know that the colors of the beautiful hot springs you see at Yellowstone National Park indicate the water temperature? Make no mistake, you do NOT want to soak in any of these after a long day hiking. Rule of thumb: the bluer the H2O, the hotter it is. And the orange, yellow, and brown colors you see ringing the springs and leading away from them are thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Fun Fact Friday 4-24-2020

Black Sand Basin Landscape

“Bobby socks” around Opalescent Pool in Black Sand Basin, Yellowstone National Park

"Bobby Socks" At Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail

“Bobby socks” along the Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail, Yellowstone National Park

Hey folks, it’s Fun Fact Friday!

If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone National Park, you’ve seen these dead, desolate trees with the white rings around their bases. Those are called “Bobby socks” and are formed when the trees absorb the silica (natural glass) from the thermal waters. This, of course, kills the trees and “freezes” them to keep them standing.

And now you know!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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The Sounds Of Wild Yellowstone

Sunrise Over Old Faithful
When I visited Yellowstone National Park last year, I recorded all sorts of sounds of the park’s geology.  And, in today’s Podcast #60, the National Parks Traveler has captured other sounds of wild Yellowstone.
 
To listen to Yellowstone’s sounds of geology (plus running water and some birds), click on the image above.
To listen to the National Parks Traveler’s Podcast Episode 60 (with different sounds of Yellowstone), click on the image below.
Elk In The Distance
 
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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A Photographic Trip Down Memory Lane: 2019

Becky At Grand Prismatic Overlook

My usual look when in the field: sweaty, tired, and happy as hell

Earlier this morning, I read a lovely little blog post in which the photographer, stuck inside and unable to travel, decided she might as well take a trip down memory lane with her photos. It was a nice post with pretty pics, except there came a point when the enjoyment was ruined after this photographer mentioned that she and some pals had hiked up to a locked fire lookout and jimmied open the lock to get in. FFS, people! Please respect other agencies’ properties. If it’s locked, it’s locked.

Anyway, to get back to the gist of this post, I thought it would, indeed, be a nice idea to take a photographic trip down my own memory lane, as Washington state has a shelter-in-place order right now and I also can’t get out. Parks are closed, and since I have a compromised immune system and my sister with whom I live is 73, I’m just fine with staying at home. Heaven knows, I have lots of photographs and memories, so I thought I’d start with 2019 and work my way back.

In 2019, I was settled into my new home in central Washington. I’d FINALLY been able to move out of Texas and back to the mountains. I’m a mountain gal; I was born in northwest Montana and mountains are a part of my soul, not to mention I don’t much like the South’s politics or attitudes. Full disclosure, however, I do miss Big Bend National Park and Padre Island National Seashore. These two places are favorites of mine and I visited Big Bend 4 times and Padre Island twice. So, I suppose there actually is something I like about Texas.

Once totally moved, I wanted to explore National Park System units around my new neck of the woods. Washington is blessed with three national parks and several national recreation areas and national monuments, all between 2 – 6 hours’ (give or take) drive from my home.

I travel alone. I like it that way. I’ve always been a loner and prefer my own company. I don’t have to worry about whether or not anybody else is bored. I don’t have to deal with non-photographers who don’t understand why I want to stop every 10 minutes for a photo op. I can go where I want when I want, eat what I want when I want, buy what I want (or what I can afford), and basically do what I want, within the boundaries of decency and the law. That said, I wouldn’t mind hosting a photo workshop or photo tour – I do enjoy talking to fellow photographers and I do enjoy showing people different / better ways to get a beautiful shot. Other than that, though, I go solo, if I can manage it.

January 2019: Olympic National Park

Early Morning On Kalaloch Beach

A winter morning along Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park in Washington state

My visit coincided with the partial government shutdown, which meant national parks were open, but not staffed. Lodging was open so I spent a few days in an awesome cabin at Kalaloch Lodge, my base from which I explored and photographed Kalaloch Beach, Beach 4, and Ruby Beach.

A View Of Beach 4

The view at Beach 4, Olympic National Park

Ruby Beach Logjam

Log jam at Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

I was always mindful of the tides because I sure didn’t want to get caught in high water or squashed between beached logs, which can move around with the flowing water. I did make the mistake of wading through a beach stream only to get caught by an incoming tide that almost capsized me (and my cameras). Lesson learned.

A Winter Sunset Over Kalaloch Beach

A winter sunset over Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park

Winter weather creates terrific storms and clouds along the coast. Sunrises tend to be muted affairs, but winter sunsets can be blazingly colorful.

I really wanted to wander around the trails in the Hoh Rain Forest, but some roads were closed due to the season, and others were closed due to the shutdown, with nobody to make repairs to the storm damage or remove fallen trees in the road. So, I settled for driving to the national park portion of the Quinault Rain Forest, some 27 miles south of Kalaloch, where the road was open as were the trails.

My favorite photo spot was July Creek. There’s a parking lot and a trailhead to a very short loop which crosses over the namesake creek. Nobody else was there so all I heard were the sounds of birds, water dripping, and flowing creek water. The creek allowed me a great opportunity to practice my silky water skills. Because it was damp, the browns of the branches and tree trunks were dark and saturated, as were the greens, yellows, and reds of the foliage and fungi.

The Bridge Over July Creek

The bridge over July Creek in the Quinault Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

I’m a contributing writer and photographer (some use the slang “stringer,” but I like to think I’m more than that) for the National Parks Traveler. I’ve been volunteering my writing and photo abilities for this site since 2012. So of course, I wrote about my shutdown stay for the Traveler. Here’s the link.

May 2019: Mount Rainier National Park

Paradise And The Paradise Inn

“The Mountain” and Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state

When the Traveler wanted someone to report on the May Grand Re-Opening of Mount Rainier National Park’s Paradise Inn and its newly renovated Paradise Inn Annex, I raised my hand and volunteered to stay a few days up at The Mountain. FYI, there is still deep snow up there in May.

A Little Spring Snowshoeing For Becky CROP

Going for a little spring snowshoeing, Mount Rainier National Park

It was nice to see the turnout for this event. I’ve stayed in the Annex when it was in big need of renovation, and a tour through the newly-refurbished building showed a world of difference. It was also great to hear about the history of the inn and to meet all sorts of national park / public lands luminaries.  Here’s the link to my story.

June 2019: Mount Rainier National Park

Adventure Awaits

Adventure awaits along the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

I live about 1-1/2 hours’ drive from Mount Rainier National Park’s boundaries, so it’s easy to make just a day trip now and then. I decided to take a trail I’d never hiked before, and chose the Grove of the Patriarchs trail. This relatively short trail ventures into the forest to a group of tall, old-growth trees that are, indeed, patriarchs of Nature.

Bridge Over The Ohanapecosh

The suspension bridge over the Ohanapecosh River, Grove of Patriarchs Trail

1000-Year Old Twins

1,000 year old twins, Grove of Patriarchs Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

July 2019: Stehekin

The Landing

Approaching Stehekin Landing, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, in Washington

In the early 90’s, I lived in Seattle. I’d once read about this community called Stehekin, out in the middle of nowhere within the North Cascades. I distinctly recall scoffing that I’d never want to visit such an out-of-the-way place.

Enjoying The Ferry Ride Uplake

Enjoying the ferry ride to Stehekin, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

Fast forward to 2019. I took a scenic, 4-hour ride on the Lady of The Lake ferry up to the headwaters of Lake Chelan in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area to stay for a few days in Stehekin. It’s beautiful up there, peaceful, realllly out of the way, and has one of the best bakeries around (Stehekin Pastry Company – their lemon bars and pizzas are to die for). You really can’t get there from here, unless you take a boat, plane, or hike about 24 miles into this isolated community near the Pacific Crest Trail and North Cascades National Park. As a matter of fact, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area is a part of what is called the North Cascades Complex.

The Stehekin River At High Bridge

The clear, cold water of the Stehekin River, North Cascades National Park

A Place To Sit And Meditate

A nice place to sit and meditate, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

Of course, I wrote a story about my stay for the Traveler. Suffice to say, I’d be more than happy to revisit Stehekin again. No more scoffing.

July 2019: Ross Lake National Recreation Area

Sunrise Over Diablo Lake

Sunrise at the Diablo Lake Overlook, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, in Washington

I’d told the Traveler I planned on writing an article or two about places within the North Cascades Complex. Having already visited Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, I made plans to travel to Ross Lake National Recreation Area and North Cascades National Park. Here’s the thing: there are not that many places to lodge within this vast area of wild forest land, cold, clear rushing waters and rugged peaks. Most of the trails are for long-distance backpackers and there aren’t that many view areas into which you can drive in, look, then drive out. With that in mind, I opted for a short stay at the North Cascades Institute, which turned out to be perfect for exploring and photography.

A Place To Sit And Rest And A Surprise Visitor

A nice place to sit and rest, plus a little surprise visitor (can you spot it?), North Cascades Institute

Enjoying A Morning Snack

A furry little visitor in the garden at the North Cascades Institute

Pearly Everlasting

Pearly Ever Lasting, Ross Lake National Recreation Area

A Dam Fine View

Diablo Dam and the mountains of the North Cascades

With these July visits, I was able to put together my Armchair Photography Guides for the North Cascades Complex. I have rheumatoid arthritis. As such, I don’t really do much – ok, I don’t do any – long backcountry trips. I’ll hike at least 5 or 6 miles if the trail is relatively easy, but really, I am firmly of the opinion that anybody can photograph WOW-worthy images from view areas, shorter trails, and pullouts without ever having to go far from their car, camper, cabin, or tent. Thus, my Armchair Photography Guides were born. These guides have photographic tips and techniques for all, regardless whether you use a smartphone, point-and-shoot, or tricked-out SLR. If you go into the Traveler’s site and use the search engine to type in “Armchair Photography,” you’ll pull up all these guides pertaining to national parks I’ve visited.

August 2019: Olympic National Park

That short partial shutdown visit in this national park whetted my appetite for a longer trip, so I booked stays at Kalaloch Lodge (in a cabin, again), Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, and Lake Crescent Lodge. Using each of these places as a base, I explored further into this national park, from beaches to rain forests to rugged mountains. Olympic National Park has a little bit of something for everybody. While it’s usually pretty wet – particularly in the rain forest portion – I managed to luck out with dry, mostly sunny days and gathered enough material for three separate Armchair Photography Guides:

Part 1 – The Beaches

Sunset scenery at Ruby Beach

A Ruby Beach sunset, Olympic National Park, in Washington

Part 2 – The Forests

The Trail Into The Rain Forest

The trail into the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

Part 3 – The Mountains

Olympic Mountain Scenery

Hurricane Ridge scenery, Olympic National Park

September – October 2019: Yellowstone National Park

Morning Glory Pool

Viewing the beauty of Morning Glory Pool, Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming

I’d only visited America’s first national park for a period of about 2 days, and that was during my 2018 road trip move from Texas to central Washington. That first, short August stay almost put me off ever returning – well, at least, during the summer. Talk about crowds! Talk about stupid people doing stupid stuff! Talk about no parking spaces whatsoever! Definitely no social distancing. I only saw maybe 1/10th of 1% of what I wanted to see.

A return trip was in order and I made my plans for the autumn, which is a perfect time for a little holiday. There were fewer people, plenty of parking space (well, except at Grand Prismatic), and the photo ops were incredible. I totally understand why Yellowstone is a huge favorite among so many people. Of course, I wrote an article about my 9-day visit to this national park for the Traveler.

Sunlight And Shadow On The Landscape

A view of the mountains at Swan Lake Flats on a chilly autumn afternoon, Yellowstone National Park

Black Growler Steam Vent And Ledge Geyser

Black Growler steam vent and Ledge Geyser, Porcelain Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Basking In The Sun

Resting in the golden grass, Yellowstone National Park

A View Of Lower Falls From Artist Point On A Snowy Day

The lower Yellowstone Falls on a snowy autmun morning, Yellowstone National Park

Watching Old Faithful From Observation Point 2

Watching Old Faithful erupt from Observation Point, Yellowstone National Park

That sums up my 2019 photo travels. Do check out the various links in this post. These links helped keep this post from becoming a long-assed tome.

Next up: A Photographic Walk Down Memory Lane: 2018.

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Waterfall Wednesday

Gibbon Falls

It’s Waterfall Wednesday! I took a quick look through all the photos I’ve posted and I didn’t see this one listed, so here it is. If I missed it and have posted it before, my apologies. I just lose track, sometimes.

Anyway, this is Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone has plenty of beautiful, photogenic falls, reached either by view area right off the road, or via a hike along a trail. Gibbon Falls has its own large parking lot and view areas (yes, multiple spots to view different angles of this beautiful waterfall).
 
Waterfalls make great subjects for silky water shots, you know. Yes, some people like their water to “look like water”, as one fan told me, but others like that dream quality of smooth, silky water that a slow shutter speed gives you. The key to getting a shot like this, where the lighting for the composition is good and the highlights in the waterfall are not too very blown out (overexposed) is to use a tripod (required, really) and a neutral density (ND) filter. ND filters come in verying sizes, shades (densities) and prices. Some of the fancier (and super-expensive) ones, like the Singh-Ray brand, can be adjusted to various densities of darkness with a twist of the outer filter ring. The darkness of the filter allows you to use really slow shutter speeds while still capturing a well-exposed image. If you don’t have a ND filter (and every SLR photographer should have that filter in their gearbag), a circular polarizer (CPL) can do a decent job, too. To be honest, I can’t remember if I used a CPL or a ND filter for this shot. If you have both filters in your camera gear arsenal, then try experimenting with each one to see which result you like best.
 
I also shot at a focal length that would allow for a decent cutoff of the trees at the bottom of the shot. Taking your compositional details into consideration (rather than just getting a grab shot), can mean the difference between a good image and a great image. Think of it as akin to trying to figure out where to (figuratively) chop off the arms and legs of someone you are photographing. Sometimes you just don’t have enough room to get everything in your shot, so you need to make that cutoff somewhere. Rule of thumb on that is to NOT crop off at the joints so it doesn’t look like they’ve been amputated.
 
And that concludes our photo lesson for Wednesday, folks. You are halfway through the week!
 
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Can Lessons Learned From The White Island Eruption Be Applied To Yellowstone?

Geyser Eruptions CROP

Each of the two times I’ve visited Yellowstone National Park, I stood on the boardwalks of Upper Geyser Basin, marveling that I was standing above turbulent geothermal activity right beneath my feet, covered by fragile ground. I think people forget that, sometimes, which is why they do stupid shit like go off the boardwalks and try to get closer to the geysers and hot springs.

Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has the latest Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles column about New Zealand’s White Island eruption and the lessons learned that might be applied to Yellowstone. It’s a pretty interesting read, written by a U.S. Geological Survey research hydrologist.

To read the article, click on the image above

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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